The biggest headline from November’s FOCAC meeting was China’s pivot away from infrastructure funding. But like many FOCAC headlines, it needs several asterisks. In the first place, the pivot might actually be away from a particular infrastructure model (massive projects funded with large bilateral Chinese policy bank loans and built by Chinese state-owned enterprises) rather than from infrastructure-building itself.
The larger question is what China is pivoting to. Instead of ...
Some new data is now available regarding Chinese military and police forces who now operate under UN command in African peacekeeping operations.
China is also the second-largest contributor to UN's peacekeeping budget, accounting for 15.22% of the $7 billion 2019 budget, up from 10.28% in 2018.
Florida governor Rick Scott is by no means an important voice on foreign policy matters but he does offer some insight here on how a lot of senior US politicians now consider China to be an "adversary" who's determined to exert influence around the world.
It is interesting nonetheless to see how an issue like China's engagement in Africa is now making its way into the broader political discourse in the United States about China.
New data from the National Treasury in Nairobi revealed a dramatic surge in borrowing from Japan, up 162% to more than $1.3 billion during the period of June 2018 to June 2019. The increase in Japanese loans comes as China is slowing its lending to Kenya. "China’s bilateral loans to Kenya, which stood at $6.4 billion by June had only grown 16 percent from $5.5 billion in the same period last year," reported Kenya's Business Daily newspaper.
Citing "difficulties beyond its control" (translation: they haven't been paid), China’s state-owned Sinohydro has stopped work building the 750mw Kafue Gorge hydroelectric dam in Zambia, dealing a major blow for the country's drive for energy self-sufficiency and the livelihoods of thousands of workers on the project.
The Kafue Gorge Lower Power Station (see graphic above) was among a number of Chinese-funded energy projects underway in Zambia. In this particular case, the Kafue plant is funded through a public-private partnership (PPP) between the Zambian government and the country's power company ZESCO and financed through a $2 billion loan from China's Exim Bank.
In an article that recently appeared in the Paris-based magazine The Africa Report, Andrew McGregor, Managing Director of the independent research organization Who Owns Whom, and Marthinus Havenga, Director of Cathkin Consulting, provided some interesting data on the top five export and import categories that dominate the bulk of China-Africa trade.
In short, China sells heavy equipment and other machinery to African countries and in turn, buys a lot of natural resources. While that's not a tremendous surprise, it is interesting to note the volumes and how they've changed between 2001 and 2018.
Read the full article on The Africa Report website that includes a number of other compelling charts and data points.
Russia is stepping up its engagement in Africa with a new focus on trade. Although Russia does considerably less trade with Africa than China, less than a tenth the volume, in fact, it nonetheless remains an important actor on the continent. Although Russia and China are often put together as representatives of Africa's new trading partners, breaking the hold that the U.S. and European countries long had, they are different in one fundamental way.
Charles Robertson, Global Chief Economist at Renaissance Capital, explained that while China needs to buy Africa's resources, Russia does not. The Russians have sufficient supplies of oil, gas, and timber while lacking China's industrial capacity that depends on raw materials to build the phones, cars and countless other products we all buy from the Chinese.