March 23, 2012
As the Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise of China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an increased US military presence in Central Africa threaten deepening Chinese commercial activity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, widely considered the world’s most resource rich nation.
Since the time of the British Empire and the manifesto of Cecil Rhodes, the pursuit of treasures on the hopeless [sic] continent has demonstrated the expendability of human life. Despite decades of apathy among the primary resource consumers, the increasing reach of social media propaganda has ignited public interest in Africa’s long overlooked social issues. In the wake of celebrity endorsed pro-intervention publicity stunts, public opinion in the United States is now being mobilized in favor of a greater military presence on the African continent. Following the deployment of one hundred US military personnel to Uganda in 2011, a new bill has been introduced to the Congress calling for the further expansion of regional military forces in pursuit of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an ailing rebel group allegedly responsible for recruiting child soldiers and conducting crimes against humanity.
As the Obama administration claims to welcome the peaceful rise of China on the world stage, recent policy shifts toward an American Pacific Century indicate a desire to maintain the capacity to project military force toward the emerging superpower. In addition to maintaining a permanent military presence in Northern Australia, the construction of an expansive military base on South Korea’s Jeju Island has indicated growing antagonism towards Beijing. The base maintains the capacity to host up to twenty American and South Korean warships, including submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers once completed in 2014 – in addition to the presence of Aegis anti-ballistic systems. In response, Chinese leadership has referred to the increasing militarization in the region as an open provocation.
On the economic front, China has been excluded from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), a trade agreement intended to administer US-designed international trading regulations throughout Asia, to the benefit of American corporations. As further fundamental policy divisions emerge subsequent to China and Russia’s UNSC veto mandating intervention in Syria, the Obama administration has begun utilizing alternative measures to exert new economic pressure towards Beijing. The United States, along with the EU and Japan have called on the World Trade Organization to block Chinese-funded mining projects in the US, in addition to a freeze on World Bank financing for China’s extensive mining projects.
In a move to counteract Chinese economic ascendancy, Washington is crusading against China’s export restrictions on minerals that are crucial components in the production of consumer electronics such as flat-screen televisions, smart phones, laptop batteries, and a host of other products. In a 2010 white paper entitled “Critical Raw Materials for the EU,” the European Commission cites the immediate need for reserve supplies of tantalum, cobalt, niobium, and tungsten among others; the US Department of Energy 2010 white paper “Critical Mineral Strategy” also acknowledged the strategic importance of these key components. Coincidently, the US military is now attempting to increase its presence in what is widely considered the world’s most resource rich nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The DRC has suffered immensely during its history of foreign plunder and colonial occupation; it maintains the second lowest GDP per capita despite having an estimated $24 trillion in untapped raw minerals deposits….The DRC holds more than 30% of the world’s diamond reserves and 80% of the world’s coltan, the majority of which is exported to China for processing into electronic-grade tantalum powder and wiring.
China’s unprecedented economic transformation has relied not only on consumer markets in the United States, Australia and the EU – but also on Africa, as a source for a vast array of raw materials. As Chinese economic and cultural influence in Africa expands exponentially with the symbolic construction of the new $200 million African Union headquarters funded solely by Beijing, the ailing United States and its leadership have expressed dissatisfaction toward its diminishing role in the region. During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton herself has irresponsibly insinuated China’s guilt in perpetuating a creeping “new colonialism.”
At a time when China holds an estimated $1.5 trillion in American government debt, Clinton’s comments remain dangerously provocative. As China, backed by the world’s largest foreign currency reserves, begins to offer loans to its BRICS counterparts in RMB, the prospect of emerging nations resisting the New American Century appear to be increasingly assured. While the success of Anglo-American imperialism relies on its capacity to militarily drive target nations into submission, today’s African leaders are not obliged to do business with China – although doing so may be to their benefit. China annually invests an estimated $5.5 billion in Africa, with only 29 percent of direct investment in the mining sector in 2009 – while more than half was directed toward domestic manufacturing, finance, and construction industries, which largely benefit Africans themselves – despite reports of worker mistreatment.
China has further committed $10 billion in concessional loans to Africa between 2009 and 2012 and made significant investments in manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as Zambia and Tanzania. As Africa’s largest trading partner, China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day, approximately accounting for 30 percent of its total imports. Over the past decade, 750,000 Chinese nationals have settled in Africa, while Chinese state-funded cultural centers in rural parts of the continent conduct language classes in Mandarin and Cantonese. As China is predicted to formally emerge as the world’s largest economy in 2016, the recent materialization of plans for a BRICS Bank have the potential to restructure the global financial climate and directly challenge the hegemonic conduct of the International Monetary Fund in Africa’s strategic emerging economies.
China’s deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications industry and much needed infrastructural projects is creating “deep nervousness” in the West, according to David Shinn, the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. In a 2011 Department of Defense whitepaper entitled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”, the US acknowledges the maturity of China’s modern hardware and military technology, and the likelihood of Beijing finding hostility with further military alliances between the United States and Taiwan. The document further indicates that “China’s rise as a major international actor is likely to stand out as a defining feature of the strategic landscape of the early 21st century.” Furthermore, the Department of Defense concedes to the uncertainty of how China’s growing capabilities will be administered on the world stage.
Although a US military presence in Africa (under the guise of fighting terrorism and protecting human rights) specifically to counter Chinese regional economic authority may not incite tension in the same way that a US presence in North Korea or Taiwan would, the potential for brinksmanship exists and will persist. China maintains the largest standing army in the world with 2,285,000 personnel and is working to challenge the regional military hegemony of America’s Pacific Century with its expanding naval and conventional capabilities, including an effort to develop the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile. Furthermore, China has moved to begin testing advanced anti-satellite (ASAT) and Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) weapons systems in an effort to bring the US-China rivalry into Space warfare.
The concept of US intervention into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Uganda under the pretext of disarming the Lord’s Resistance Army is an ultimately fraudulent purpose…
…An increasing US presence in the region exists only to curtail the increasing economic presence of China in one of the world’s most resource and mineral rich regions…
…Since colonial times, the West has historically exploited ethnic differences in Africa for political gain….
In 1980, Pentagon documents acknowledged shortages of cobalt, titanium, chromium, tantalum, beryllium, and nickel; US participation in the Congolese conflict was largely an effort to obtain these needed resources. The sole piece of legislation authored by President Obama during his time as a Senator was S.B. 2125, the Democratic Republic of the Congo Relief, Security, and Democracy Promotion Act of 2006. In the legislation, Obama acknowledges the Congo as a long-term interest to the United States and further alludes to the threat of Hutu militias as an apparent pretext for continued interference in the region; Section 201(6) of the bill specifically calls for the protection of natural resources in the eastern DRC.
The Congressional Budget Office’s 1982 report “Cobalt: Policy Options for a Strategic Mineral” notes that cobalt alloys are critical to the aerospace and weapons industries and that 64% of the world’s cobalt reserves lay in the Katanga Copper Belt, running from southeastern Congo into northern Zambia. For this reason, the future perpetration of the military industrial complex largely depends on the control of strategic resources in the eastern DRC…
…Under the younger Joseph Kabila, Chinese commercial activities in the DRC have significantly increased not only in the mining sector, but also considerably in the telecommunications field. In 2000, the Chinese ZTE Corporation finalized a $12.6 million deal with the Congolese government to establish the first Sino-Congolese telecommunications company; furthermore, the DRC exported $1.4 billion worth of cobalt between 2007 and 2008. The majority of Congolese raw materials like cobalt, copper ore and a variety of hard woods are exported to China for further processing and 90% of the processing plants in resource rich southeastern Katanga province are owned by Chinese nationals. In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies were granted the rights to mining operations in Katanga in exchange for US$6 billion in infrastructure investments, including the construction of two hospitals, four universities and a hydroelectric power project.
The framework of the deal allocated an additional $3 million to develop cobalt and copper mining operations in Katanga. In 2009, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) demanded renegotiation of the deal, arguing that the agreement between China and the DRC violated the foreign debt relief program for so-called HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) nations. The vast majority of the DRC’s $11 billion foreign debt owed to the Paris Club was embezzled by the previous regime of Mobuto Sesi Seko. The IMF successfully blocked the deal in May 2009, calling for a more feasibility study of the DRCs mineral concessions.
The United States is currently mobilizing public opinion in favor of a greater US presence in Africa, under the pretext of capturing Joseph Kony, quelling Islamist terrorism and putting an end to long-standing humanitarian issues. As well-meaning Americans are successively coerced by highly emotional social media campaigns promoting an American response to atrocities, few realize the role of the United States and western financial institutions in fomenting the very tragedies they are now poised to resolve. While many genuinely concerned individuals naively support forms of pro-war brand activism, the mobilization of ground forces in Central Africa will likely employ the use of predator drones and targeted missile strikes that have been notoriously responsible for civilian causalities en masse.
The further consolidation of US presence in the region is part of a larger program to expand AFRICOM, the United States Africa Command through a proposed archipelago of military bases in the region. In 2007, US State Department advisor Dr. J. Peter Pham offered the following on AFRICOM and its strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.” Additionally, during an AFRICOM Conference held at Fort McNair on February 18, 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller openly declared AFRICOM’s guiding principle of protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,” before citing the increasing presence of China as a major challenge to US interests in the region.
The increased US presence in Central Africa is not simply a measure to secure monopolies on Uganda’s recently discovered oil reserves; Museveni’s legitimacy depends solely on foreign backers and their extensive military aid contributions – US ground forces are not required to obtain valuable oil contracts from Kampala. The push into Africa has more to do with destabilizing the deeply troubled Democratic Republic of the Congo and capturing its strategic reserves of cobalt, tantalum, gold and diamonds. More accurately, the US is poised to employ a scorched-earth policy by creating dangerous war-like conditions in the Congo, prompting the mass exodus of Chinese investors. Similarly to the Libyan conflict, the Chinese returned after the fall of Gaddafi to find a proxy government only willing to do business with the western nations who helped it into power…
…The ostensible role of the first African-American US President is to export the theatresque [sic] War on Terror directly to the African continent, in a campaign to exploit established tensions along tribal, ethnic and religious lines. As US policy theoreticians such as Dr. Henry Kissinger, willingly proclaim, “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World,” the vast expanse of desert and jungles in northern and central Africa will undoubtedly serve as the venue for the next decade of resource wars.
Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou
Full article link: http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=29919