China’s African Front
DAKAR – China’s sacred text is not a holy book like the Torah, the Bible, or the Koran. Instead, it is The Art of War by Sun-Tzu. Sun’s core belief is that the “ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting.”
So it is no surprise that cunning and deception form an essential part of Chinese diplomatic and corporate culture. Indeed, down through the ages they have served as the touchstone for Chinese leaders’ survival and success.
Nowadays, we are witnessing the application of Sun’s ideas in Africa, where China’s prime objectives are to secure energy and mineral supplies to fuel its breakneck economic expansion, open up new markets, curtail Taiwan’s influence on the continent, consolidate its burgeoning global authority, and clinch for themselves African-allocated export quotas. (The Chinese takeovers of South African and Nigerian textile industries are good examples of this strategy. The textiles exported the world over by these industries are deemed African exports when in reality they are now Chinese exports.)
We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.
To continue reading, subscribe now.
Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.
Already have an account or want to create one? Log in