A rising China and a rising Africa? This is doubly frightening to the imperialist powers

What follows below is the text of a speech given by Fiona Sim on behalf of the Black Liberation Alliance at the recent Friends of Socialist China event Africa, China and the Rise of the Global South, held at the Marx Memorial Library on 16 March 2024.

Fiona describes the blossoming relationship between Africa and China – which even extends to South Africa and China collaborating to build a research base on the moon – and contrasts it with the “playbook of neo-colonial extraction and political puppeteering” that the West has used to exploit Africa for centuries. The China-Africa partnership is inspiring fear and loathing in the West, representing as it does a challenge to the global hegemony of the US and its allies:

“A rising China and a rising Africa? This is doubly frightening to the imperialist powers. It is the precursor to the fall of western hegemony altogether.”

The West’s response has been to ramp up its propaganda war against China and to try to drive a wedge between China and Africa – most obviously by denouncing Chinese “imperialism” and slandering its investments as “debt traps”. But the reality is that “China’s loans to African countries have some of the lowest interest rates, no political strings attached, mass debt relief programmes, and the massive infrastructure projects they fund and build result in positive net growth.” Chinese loans and investment are paving a road out of poverty and underdevelopment.

Fiona concludes by calling for solidarity with China and Africa in their struggle against imperialism, for countering the lies and distortions of the Western media, and for resolutely opposing the New Cold War.

It is my great honour to be included in this panel alongside our esteemed comrade from the Communist Party of Kenya and all these powerful organisers and activists. There is nothing more powerful than being united in struggle with comrades who are not only from across the diaspora but from around the globe. 

It is a reminder of the importance of internationalist, anti-imperialist solidarity that transcends borders and bureaucracy. Our struggles are connected by the chains of imperialist domination and sown from the seeds of destruction left by colonial conquest. But our joint history stretches back centuries further. 

While Europe was in its so-called Dark Ages, Africa, Asia and the Islamic world were experiencing their Golden Ages. The renowned Chinese Muslim naval navigator Zheng He led peaceful expeditions along the ancient Silk Road, with voyages as far as East Africa, where the seas connecting the two continents would go on to establish trade routes and friendly relations for years to come.

Now, centuries later, with the Silk-Road-inspired Belt and Road initiative, we are seeing the rebirth of Africa-China relations and establishment of South-South cooperation at an unprecedented scale. The relationship between Africa and China could not be stronger. Kenya is China’s number one trade partner in East Africa. South Africa and China are collaborating to build a research base on the moon. After the uprisings in the Sahel, the coup governments formed were quick to affirm their relations with China, which reiterated its policy of non-intervention and non-interference in African politics. Burkina Faso’s President Traore declared that he considered China an important trade partner early on, and Niger’s interim President General Tchiani has reportedly met with the Central and North African representative for BRICS in the last few weeks.

It is no wonder that the countries of the West – where whole civilisations have been built on the foundations of plunder and pillaging of the global South – see this as a threat. The West has seen that Africa has taken great interest in the rise of China especially in the last decade and it is running scared. Scared that its playbook of neo-colonial extraction and political puppeteering is no longer going to work on its former colonies. 

Let us be clear. The West only sees China as a threat to its hegemony because it cannot conceive a country that less than a century ago was one of the poorest in the world is now a global powerhouse whose economy rivals the US. Since the 1990s, China has been the only country whose GDP has grown exponentially, increasing on average by 9 percent a year. In 2023, China’s GDP increased by 5.2 percent – the highest among the major powers, with the US in second place at 1 percent. 

And so the West cannot fathom how a developing nation such as China, with such a different model to the capitalist hegemons, could have possibly done this – all while lifting over 800 million out of absolute poverty – without rigging the system as the West has done for centuries and continues to do. China’s achievements challenge the narratives of Red Scare and Yellow Peril that the global capitalist hegemony has been pushing.

Remember it is Europe who sent Nigeria millions in near-expired Covid vaccines, not China. 

Remember it is France who sends French guards to steal and escort Senegal’s gold back to Paris, not China.

Remember it is the US which suspended millions in food aid to Ethiopia and kept food hostage from starving communities, not China.

The late great Burkinabe revolutionary Thomas Sankara spoke wisely on the drawbacks of the dependency model: “The person who feeds you also imposes his will on you. Those who come with wheat, millet, corn or milk, they are not helping us. Those who really want to help us can give us ploughs, tractors, fertiliser.” Decades later, Sankara’s criticisms of aid still hold true. In the book “Dead Aid”, Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo illustrates the ineffectiveness of the billions of aid and structural adjustment programmes poured into the African continent every year. There is a trend of negative growth in Africa and “Dead Aid” argues that Western aid is a cause of mass poverty and underdevelopment on the continent. 

And this is why we get narratives of debt traps and “Chinese imperialism”. The debt trap narrative distracts from the fact that the aid development model spearheaded by the Western powers is dead, if it ever were alive to begin with. 

But let’s talk about debt.

Debt as issued by imperialists is, again in the words of Sankara, “a skillfully managed reconquest of Africa”. The IMF and World Bank are renowned for the brutal repayment schemes and conditions attached to their loans to the poorest countries in the world. Their programmes offer capital in exchange for austerity and mass privatisation, leaving countries to orient their budget around debt instead of prioritising the people, driving countries deeper into debt. 

As for China, it is true that China issues loans and debt is accrued. China does not operate as a charity, nor is the Belt and Road Initiative a charitable programme. Instead China interacts with Africa in the spirit of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. As a result, China’s loans to African countries have some of the lowest interest rates, no political strings attached, mass debt relief programmes, and the mass infrastructure projects they fund and build result in positive net growth. 

The alternative that China offers is one that does not patronise its African counterparts. China is rollout out mass infrastructure programmes across the Global South – in Africa, China’s investments are some of the only sources of infrastructural development across the continent. We must all remember that it is trade – not aid – that leads to infrastructure like schools and hospitals and hospitals, and infrastructure that is the foundation for any country’s development. 

China has since become Africa’s largest trading partner, with a total trade volume of $170 billion in 2017.  Even the World Economic Forum admits that there is a correlation and that the Africa-China partnership could be the 21st century’s “most powerfully transformative economic relationship”.

A rising China and a rising Africa? This is doubly frightening to the imperialist powers. It is the precursor to the fall of western hegemony altogether.

We have been subordinated for centuries by the racism that dehumanises us and the imperialism that underdevelops our motherlands. Even now, we face a world where the stakes are high, with the West stoking World War 3. Where the West is supporting the genocidal actions on Palestine and letting the climate breakdown run rampant, it is the Global South spearheading the resistance against the “status quo”. South Africa led the charges against Israel at the International Courts of Justice (ICJ) and China leads the world in renewable energy.

The Black Liberation Alliance believes in the unity of all people of African, Asian, Arab, Caribbean and Indigenous descent. It is the rising Global South that holds the hope that the Black Liberation Alliance stands behind. So it is our belief that it is in the interests of all anti-imperialists – whether in the homelands or in the diaspora – to defeat the disinformation drive against China and oppose the new Cold War as much as it is to support the uprisings in the Sahel against French imperialism and neo-colonial rule across Africa. That is the primary contradiction that we must seek to resolve in our lifetimes before all else. 

And we must do it together.

Remember. If they cannot divide us, they cannot conquer us.

2 thoughts on “A rising China and a rising Africa? This is doubly frightening to the imperialist powers”

  1. I am from Vancouver,Canada and i wanted to say That China and Africa can make changes in the world that will help all of Humanity. That is something the Collective West never did anytime in its history. They made problems worldwide and nothing else. The New World Order will be welcomed worldwide and the Collective West condemned. Things are beginning to change for the better.
    In 1848 in Europe there was a similar struggle.The fight for a better world against those who don’t want change will continue until there is a better world.

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