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HomeLaw and ordercorruptionChina’s corruption spreads to Africa

China’s corruption spreads to Africa

…….Conduct undermines dignity and freedom of local populace

The Corruption of Africa by China Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times
 The Corruption of Africa by China Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

By Jianli Yang and Carbone Beni

China‘s diplomatic and economic engagement with Africa can be dated back to the period of African decolonization (the mid-1950s to 1975), when African countries started to gain independence.

In recent years, however, the Chinese government, through state-owned and state-funded enterprises, has poured massive sums of money into sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to more than 1.1 billion people — over 75% of China’s estimated population.

This was further accelerated by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s launch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2013 to create more “international collaboration.”

Africa’s rapidly growing population and increasing urbanization have increased the demand for development, particularly in the infrastructure industry.

In 2020 alone, it is estimated that Chinese companies were responsible for 31% of infrastructure projects on the African continent. 

China continues to pour billions of dollars into Africa in efforts to dominate the continent’s natural resources sector and use its presence in Africa to promote the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-Western foreign policy agenda.

In the decades that followed the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, China’s rapid economic growth was virtually unparalleled in the history of human civilization.

Pundits sometimes refer to this as the “China miracle.” This “miracle,” however, would not have occurred without the following four features — one high and three lows of China’s system of autocratic governance: high corruption, low human rights, low environmental regulations and low morality (i.e., an absence of, disregard for, or inability to discern right from wrong).

In a sense, China has disseminated the same model to Africa. This makes the CCP much more competitive in Africa (in terms of its ability to engage in influence peddling) than in Western democracies such as the United States and Canada.‌

Beijing’s involvement in Africa raises several red flags, not only because of the Chinese government’s exploitative intentions but also because of the “China model,” in particular serious human rights abuses and corruption against Africans.

According to a recent report by the London-based nonprofit Business and Human Rights Resource Center, of 1,690 allegations of human rights abuses related to Chinese investments worldwide, 181 were reported in Africa.

Most of these human rights abuses occurred in Africa’s mining and construction sectors. In every single case, the Chinese companies involved either denied the allegations or simply ignored them.

When the Chinese government published its first African policy paper in 2006, China described its relationship with Africa as one of “sincerity, friendship, and equality.”

But the reality of Chinese government-owned or -sponsored companies operating on the African continent suggests otherwise.

According to a 2017 report, 60% to 87% of Chinese companies admitted paying “tips” or “bribes” to obtain licenses.

In 2019, a federal court in New York sentenced former Hong Kong Home Affairs Secretary Patrick Ho to three years of incarceration for his role in a scheme to bribe African officials to boost a top Chinese energy company that was part of Beijing’s global Belt and Road initiative.

As evidence in the case showed, Mr. Ho paid off top African officials to support the operations of CEFC China Energy and China National Petroleum Corp. in Uganda and Chad.

As it turns out, the governments of China and the Democratic Republic of Congo reached an agreement in which the two parties would not exchange actual money but instead would operate in accordance with China’s preferred African policy, which involves Chinese companies acquiring substantial equity stakes and operational control of companies in strategic sectors in Africa.

This infrastructure-for-minerals deal between the Chinese and Congolese sides later became known as the “deal of the century.” Chinese companies, financed by state-owned banks, seized control of cobalt deposits in the DRC.

According to documents obtained by the independent French investigative online newspaper Mediapart and the Platform to Protect Whistleblowers in Africa, state funds were siphoned from the Central Bank of the Congo and the state-owned mining company Gecamines to former Congolese President Joseph Kabila’s family and associates.

The documents revealed that Mr. Kabila, his family, and his associates embezzled more than $138 million between 2013 and 2018.

China’s nefarious conduct in Africa and the DRC particularly undermines the dignity and freedom of the African people. China’s practice of using corruption to exploit and gain an unfair advantage in Africa reinforces a system that imposes significant burdens on ordinary people, contributes to poor governance, and fuels conflict.

Furthermore, China, along with Russia’s presence through the Wagner mercenaries in Central Africa, poses a serious threat to international peace and security.

For these reasons, we urge democratic nations, especially the United States and Canada, to prioritize the fight against corruption and human rights abuses in Africa by increasing support for civil society groups and frontline human rights defenders.

The international community’s lack of a coordinated response to China’s egregious behavior in Africa could undermine any efforts to promote democracy, freedom, and the rule of law in the world’s second-most populous continent.

• Jianli Yang, a former political prisoner of China and a Tiananmen Square Massacre survivor, is founder and president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China and the author of “For Us, The Living: A Journey to Shine the Light on Truth.” Carbone Beni, a human rights defender and former political prisoner of Democratic Republic of the Congo, is executive director of the Icon initiatives for Alternatives institute.

Source: The Washington Times

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