Africa and China: Strategic Partnership or Crypto Imprialism?

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INTRODUCTION
As global demand for energy continues to rise, major players like the United States, European Union (EU), and Japan are facing the challenges of China as a new competitor in the race to secure long-term energy supplies. As its economy booms, China is intent on getting the resources needed to sustain its rapid growth, and is taking its quest to lock down sources of oil and other necessary raw materials across the globe. As part of its effort, China has turned to Africa, an oil-producing source whose risks and challenges have often caused it to be overlooked economically. Some reports describe a race between China and the United States to secure the continent’s oil supplies while others note that Chinese interest in Africa have surged considerably though Western States still make the vast majority of investments in Africa and remain highly influential.

China’s booming economy, which has averaged annual 9% growth for the last two decades, requires massive levels of energy for sustenance. Though China relies on coal for most of its energy needs it is the second largest consumer of oil in the world behind the United States. Once the largest oil exporter in Asia, China became a net importer of oil in 1993. The international Energy Agency (IEA) projects China’s net oil imports will jump to 13. 1 million barrels per day by 20301.            The extent of the country’s energy demand has compelled China to push into new markets from the Middle East, and particularly Africa2. Africa holds a fraction of the world’s proven oil reserves, 9% compared to the Middle East’s nearly 62% but industry analysts believe it could hold significant undiscovered reserves. As a result, China is seeking to increase its oil imports from the continent as it now receives about one third of its oil imports from Africa. China’s biggest suppliers in Africa as of 2006 were Angola, the Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Sudan. It has also sought supplies from Chad, Nigeria, Algeria and Gabon3.           The study is motivated by the observations that the rapid and sustained expansion of the giant economy of China has been associated with a robust and increasing intensification of its economic relations with various African countries. And that these relationships are, in turn, associated with both opportunities and challenges for both parties. For China, it is opportunity to explore and exploit the abundant natural resources in the continent and for Africa, the challenges of contending with some level of exploitation which scholars and analysts alike have come to view as crypto-imperialism instead of strategic partnership. It focuses on trade, investment and aid flows as the key channels through which the impacts of China may be transmitted to an African economy. In fact, some scholars and analysts alike have come to the conclusion that China has consumed so much oil and other resources such as timber, coal and copper, which it has become a glutton and is battling with the process of dieting to prevent obesity. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

The basic problem of this study lies in the inability of scholars to understand the real intention of China in her relations with the African continent. While some scholars are of the opinion that they are in the continent as partners in the process of development and as such strategic partners with a promise of mutual benefit, others view her venture in Africa as purely exploitative and something akin to a hidden imperialism designed to benefit the Asian country to the detriment of Africa. It thus becomes an interesting exploit by researchers and scholars to attempt an analysis of their relationship in a bid to establish the nature of partnership between them. Again this study attempts to fill the yawning gap by many other researchers who have severally analysed China’s African policy without a clear cut examination of the strategic nature of their relationship, this gap we intend to...
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