Paul Trewhala gives an interesting perspective to China's historical role in the ANC and current events. I particularly don't agree with his conclusion where he gives the ANC only two options to choose from. In my view there are far more than two options. However his his choice to narrow the ANC's options down to two, gave me the impression of a kind of 'good cop, bad cop' routine, pretending to project two opposing points of view, but in essence both cops have exactly the same goal.
I also don't think his observation and historical analysis of the ANC's motives are impartial or accurate reality, more like wishful thinking; but irrespective.
I read once that one of the most fundamental contributions the British Empire made to its colonies was the Jury system of law; imagine if the upcoming Chinese Empire colonialists would educate Africans to adopt a one-child only procreation policy? Now that would be one cultural revolution!
Malema, China and the 'Mugabe turn'
Paul Trewhela says the ANC faces a stark choice as to which path to follow
Paul Trewhela, Politicsweb
18 April 2010
The president of the ANC Youth League, Julius Malema, has positioned himself at the confluence of the imperial interests of China in southern Africa and those of a faction in the ANC, indicating the possibility of a new Cold War in the sub-continent.
In a speech at Colesburg in the Northern Cape on Saturday, Malema repeated previously made threats to white-owned and western property interests in South Africa and added that "if investors were to leave, the Chinese would come in. 'The Chinese will work with anybody,' he said".
This adds a sharp focus to Malema's positioning of himself as the political representative in South Africa of the regime of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe, which is in debt economically, politically and militarily to China.
Should Malema's drive to set the policy agenda of the government succeed, this ‘Mugabe turn' in the ANC would represent a massive threat to the sovereignty, economic welfare and democratic heritage of South Africa, and to the continent.
It represents a radical widening in the fault-line that has opened up within the ANC, between an Africanist tendency represented by Malema (backed by the ANCYL) and that of the South African Communist Party (backed by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu): a division which is fundamental to the survival or collapse of the Tripartite Alliance between the ANC, the SACP and Cosatu. In its turn, the SACP now faces the most severe challenge to its leading influence within the ANC (in terms of the 'dual membership' of CP members within the ANC) since the breakaway of the Pan Africanist Congress in 1959, fifty years ago.
The matter can be understood with a brief historical review.
The SACP became the most powerful single organised force within the ANC from the mid-1950s, following the banning of the old Communist Party of South Africa by the apartheid regime in 1950 and the secret recruitment to the SACP, its successor, in 1955 of Walter Sisulu (former secretary general of the ANC, and before that a leading member with Nelson Mandela and Anton Lembede of the ANCYL), followed by his appointment in 1956 to the CP Central Committee. (See Elinor Sisulu, Walter and Albertina Sisulu: In our Lifetime, David Philip, 2003, pp.180-182)
Nelson Mandela's secret recruitment to the SACP, and to the Central Committee, followed a few years later. This lasted until mid-1962, when the Central Committee agreed on Mandela's cosmetic withdrawal from formal membership of the CP immediately after his return from his illegal journey to Britain and several independent African states, when African political leaders expressed concern over the ANC's close relation to the CP. (See Padraig O'Malley, Shades of Difference: Mac Maharaj and the Struggle for South Africa, Viking/Penguin, 2007. Note, p.63)
The relation between the two parties grew even stronger however when the SACP and the ANC embarked jointly on a violent struggle against the apartheid regime in 1961, following the massacre at Sharpeville the previous year. Becoming ever-closer, the ANC's connection to the SACP placed it in a strategic relationship to Russia as a world power, in terms of funding, global political support, armaments and military training. This relationship had already provoked a breakaway of the Africanists in the ANC, beginning in 1958, who accused Mandela, Sisulu, Duma Nokwe (a relatively recent member of the SACP), Govan Mbeki (a long-standing member of the old CPSA) and Oliver Tambo (never a CP member, but an ally) of forfeiting the independence of the ANC to a foreign power, and also of subordinating it to white and Indian leaders of the CP.
From its formation in 1921 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union seventy years later, the CPSA/SACP never once separated its political line from that of the governing party of the Soviet Union, that is, of the Russian state. That political line, with its emphasis (however flawed) on non-racial political organisation, became the most important advocate of civil polity in South Africa, and was crucial to the settlement and Constitution of 1994.
With its supreme expression in Mandela's policy of reconciliation between the races, this conception is now under threat.
The new turn by Malema and the ANCYL recalls a previous crisis of orientation affecting the SACP and the ANC. Until the outbreak of acute political conflict between the ruling Communist parties of the Soviet Union and China that began about 1963, the illegal SACP had been emboldened and strengthened by the alliance between these two huge Stalinist states, forged after the military triumph of the Chinese Communist Party under the leadership of Mao Zedong in 1949.
Sisulu and Nokwe together visited the Soviet Union and China in 1953, the year of Stalin's death, while Sisulu was secretary general of the ANC.
Six members of the SACP were then sent to China in September 1961 for military training at Nanjing Military Academy as part of preparation for the launch of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), lasting about six months, during which time they were visited by Mao Zedong for a discussion about the prospects for guerrilla warfare in South Africa. This was the first formal group sent abroad by MK for military training. No evidence about this military training in China emerged in the subsequent Rivonia Trial of Mandela and his colleagues, however, even though two of their co-accused (the late Raymond Mhlaba, first commmander of MK, and Andrew Mlangeni) had been members of the delegation sent to China, as well as one of the witnesses for the prosecution, Abel Patrick Mthembu (later assassinated by MK).
The outbreak of the Sino-Soviet split, which took place soon after the secret return of the delegation to South Africa, forced the SACP to sever all ties with China. Leading members of the SACP who refused to conform, such as Vella Pillay (in London, an official at the Bank of China) and Rowley Arenstein (in Durban ), were expelled. The ANC and MK similarly cut off ties with China.
This then offered up an opportunity to the PAC, which turned to China for funding, political support, arms and military training. In exile, the PAC foreign representative, Ahmed 'Gora' Ebrahim, was jubilantly present in 1967 at the burning of the British embassy in Beijing by Red Guards supporting Mao Zedong's faction in the so-called Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution which convulsed China at that time, at the cost of many lives.
There then followed a political and military line-up in southern Africa which took the following form:
PRO-SOVIET. (South Africa) SACP and ANC, with their military arm, Umkhonto we Sizwe, in a strategic alliance with (Zimbabwe) the Zimbabwe African People's Union (ZAPU: mainly isiNdebele-speakers, under the leadership of Joshua Nkomo, with its military wing ZIPRA armed and trained by the Soviet Union ). [See a critical appraisal of the PAC by the ANC published in 1998.]
PRO-CHINESE. (South Africa) The PAC, with its military arm, the Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA), in sympathetic alliance with (Zimbabwe) the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU: mainly Shona-speakers, led by Robert Mugabe, with its military arm, the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army, ZANLA, armed and trained by China). [See RW Johnson, "How Mugabe came to power", London Review of Books, 22 February 2001].
In 1991, after 30 years central involvement in southern and central Africa, Russia suddenly ceased to play any further meaningful role when the Soviet Union came to an end, following the downfall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The end of the Cold War, involving the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola and of Soviet and East German military advisers, led simultaneously to the unbanning of political organisations in South Africa, the release of political prisoners and return of the exiles, the dismantling of apartheid, the drawing up of a democratic Constitution in 1994 and the accession of the ANC to government as the hegemonic political authority in the country.
Over the same period, the Communist Party of China scrapped its failed statist economic programme while retaining a totalitarian political dictatorship over the whole country, permitting China to develop capitalistically but despotically into a premier world power. Its massive and sudden capitalistic development as a global economic power transformed its previous political and military interest in central and southern Africa into a major economic interest. This took the form of Chinese investment in its own direct production of mineral and other natural resources for export to China , and of acquisition of a further regional market for Chinese manufactured goods.
China's long-standing political and military relationship with ZANU and ZANLA in Zimbabwe - more than 40 years in existence - now placed it in a prime position to extend credit to the Mugabe regime as an essential lifeline for its survival, in addition to provision of weapons and political support. In return, Mugabe appears to have offered China first choice for plunder of the country's natural resources such as diamonds, with labour relations conducted by the regime through massacre and the helicopter gunship and by the destruction of Zimbabwe 's elephants for ivory
When, for the first time, the Chinese embassy in Harare hosted the geriatric dictator's 86th birthday party last month, the ambassador and his staff delighted Mugabe with a rendition of the Zimbabwean national anthem - 'Simudzai mureza wedu weZimbabwe' - sung "in flawless Shona", with a trail of government debt reportedly stretching "all the way to China ". Entering a foreign embassy for the first time in 30 years, the beaming birthday boy said: "We treasure this friendship. It's not really the relations that count, but the love, alliance and understanding".
In a manner characteristic of 19th century imperialism rather than the national liberation discourse of the last century, China - with no forum for an independent public opinion of its own - ruthlessly pursues its own economic and political interest in southern Africa through the brutalism of the Mugabe regime, now held up for emulation in South Africa by Malema and the ANCYL. In their assault on the influence of Western economic interests, parliamentary practice and civic culture in South Africa, Malema and the ANCYL conceal from the audience which they set out to excite both the extent of mass impoverishment in Zimbabwe and its rule by massacre, as in Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi of the 1980s and at the Chiadzwa diamond fields, where hundreds were killed two years ago.
Their repudiation of the previous culture of the ANC entails a war to the death with its earlier ethic, which entailed its founding revulsion at tribalist bloodshedding and a respect for the non-racial vision in which Umkhonto we Sizwe was founded. Seeking a reversal of loyalties in South African political culture, the ANCYL and Malema adopt the psychology of the totalitarian regime in George Orwell's classic, 1984, which proclaimed: "IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH....WAR IS PEACE.... FREEDOM IS SLAVERY", and which instructed every citizen: "BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU".
Their rancour and resentiment, their anti-intellectualist demagogy and rubbishing of the best traditions of the ANC - in tones reminiscent of the climate of European fascism - serve as a warning of the possibility of a new Cold War in southern Africa. Every institution and political current will be put to the test.
There is a choice.
Either the ANC, as the party of government of South Africa, takes active steps to bring its traditional approach to bear on the character of government in Zimbabwe, perhaps best summed up in the concept Mhlabazihlangana (unity of the peoples) as taught by the prophet Ntsikana among the amaXhosa in the early 19th century, and fundamental in the founding ethic of the ANC a century later.
Or ZANU-PF, as the tribalist and racially-driven party of state in Zimbabwe, brings its own politics of tribal oppression, race hatred, economic ruin, state violence and loss of sovereignty to South Africa.
» » » » [Politicsweb]
China's Quest for Resources: A ravenous dragon
Mar 13th 2008
Edward McBride, The Economist print edition
China's hunger for natural resources has set off a global commodity boom. Developed countries worry about being left high and dry, but the biggest effects will be felt in China itself.
BESIDE the railroad track, between two hillocks of rust-red soil in the midst of Congo's mining belt, three Chinese labourers appear as if from nowhere. There are lots of Chinese around these days, explains one of their compatriots, Harvey Lee, who is driving through the scrub to the nearby copper plant he runs for a Canadian metals firm. On his way, he points out several rudimentary smelters. “That one”, he says, waving at a clump of corrugated-iron sheds and belching chimneys, “is owned by a man from Shanghai.” Moments later, when another ramshackle compound comes into view, he adds, “and that one belongs to two ladies from Hong Kong.” In all, he reckons, Chinese entrepreneurs have set up half of Lubumbashi's 50-odd processing plants.
All around Lubumbashi, the capital of Congo's copper-rich province of Katanga, there are signs of a sudden Chinese invasion. Chinese middlemen have begun buying ore from the area's many wildcat miners and selling it on to processing plants like Mr Lee's. Locals point out several villas in the city's leafy colonial cantonment that are occupied by mysterious Chinese businessmen. Katanga Fried Chicken, hitherto Lubumbashi's most popular restaurant, now has three busy Chinese competitors.
If all goes according to plan, these fledgling businesses will soon be overshadowed by Chinese investment on a much grander scale. In late 2007 the Congolese government announced that Chinese state-owned firms would build or refurbish various railways, roads and mines around the country at a cost of $12 billion, in exchange for the right to mine copper ore of an equivalent value. That sum is more than three times Congo's annual national budget and roughly ten times the aid that the “consultative group” of Western donors has promised the country each year until 2010. The Chinese authorities, it seems, are so anxious to obtain enough minerals to sustain their country's remarkable economic growth that they are willing to invest billions in a dirt-poor and war-torn place like Congo—billions more, in fact, than Western governments and investors combined are putting in.
And Congo is not the only beneficiary of China's hunger for natural resources. From Canada to Indonesia to Kazakhstan, Chinese firms are gobbling up oil, gas, coal and metals, or paying for the right to explore for them, or buying up firms that produce them. Ships are queuing off Australia's biggest coal port, Newcastle, to load cargoes destined for China (pictured above); at one point last June the line was 79 ships long. African and Latin American economies are growing at their fastest pace in decades, thanks in large part to heavy Chinese demand for their resources.
China's burgeoning consumption has helped push the price of all manner of fuels, metals and grains to new peaks over the past year. Even the price of shipping raw materials recently reached a record. Analysts see little prospect of an end to the boom; the prices of a few commodities have fallen on the back of America's worsening economic outlook, but others, including oil, wheat and iron ore, continue to set new records. China, with about a fifth of the world's population, now consumes half of its cement, a third of its steel and over a quarter of its aluminium. Its imports of many natural resources are growing even faster than its bounding economy. Shipments of iron ore, for example, have risen by an average of 27% a year for the past four years. Western mining firms are enjoying a sustained boom.
But China's sudden global reach is generating as much anxiety as prosperity. In 2005 America's congressmen, citing nebulous national-security concerns, scuppered the proposed takeover of Unocal, an American oil firm, by CNOOC, a state-owned Chinese one. The opposition candidate in Zambia's presidential election in 2006 made a point of attacking the growing Chinese presence in the country. Residents of Russia's far east fear that China is planning to plunder their oil and timber and perhaps even to colonise their empty spaces.
Some non-governmental organisations worry that Chinese firms will ignore basic legal, environmental and labour standards in their rush to secure resources, leaving a trail of corruption, pollution and exploitation in their wake. Western companies fret that the Chinese state-owned firms with which they suddenly find themselves competing have an agenda beyond commercial gain. The Chinese government, they say, is willing to pay over the odds for mining or drilling rights to secure access to physical resources. It also intervenes unfairly on its companies' behalf, they claim, by offering big aid packages to countries that welcome Chinese investment. All this, it is feared, will dent the profits of big oil and mining firms, stoke inflation and imperil the West's access to resources that it needs just as much as China does.
Diplomats and pundits, for their part, fear that the West is “losing” Africa and other resource-rich regions. China's sudden prominence, according to this view, will reduce the clout of America, Europe and other rich democracies in the developing world. China will befriend ostracised regimes and encourage them to defy international norms. Corruption, economic mismanagement, repression and instability will proliferate. If this baleful influence spreads too widely, say the critics, the “Washington consensus” of economic liberalism and democracy will find itself in competition with a “Beijing consensus” of state-led development and despotism.
Such fears are not entirely groundless if the recent conduct of some of Congo's neighbours is anything to go by. Angola, to the south, has been receiving so much aid and investment from China that in 2006 it decided it had no need of the International Monetary Fund's billions and all the tiresome requirements for transparency and sound economic management that come with them. Sudan, to the north, has shrugged off Western threats and sanctions over the continuing atrocities in Darfur, thanks in large part to China's readiness to invest in Sudanese oilfields and buy their output. Farther afield, China's eagerness to do business in Myanmar, and its consequent reluctance to chide the tyrannical generals that run the place, helped to prevent a forceful international response to the violent repression of peaceful demonstrations there last year.
Nonetheless, this special report will argue that concerns about the dire consequences of China's quest for natural resources are overblown. China does indeed treat some dictators with kid gloves, but it is hardly alone in that. Its companies do not always uphold the highest standards, but again, many Western firms are no angels either. Fifty years of European and American aid have not succeeded in bringing much prosperity to Africa and other poor but resource-rich places. A different approach from China might yield better results. At the very least it will spur other donors to seek more effective methods.
For all the hue and cry, China is still just one of many countries looking for raw materials around the world. It has won most influence in countries where Western governments were conspicuous by their absence, and where few important strategic interests are at stake. Moreover, as China is becoming more involved in places such as Congo, its policies are beginning to change. It has promised to co-operate with the World Bank in its development efforts in Africa. It no longer seems prepared to back its most objectionable allies in the face of international opprobrium. Its diplomats, for example, did eventually stop parroting their line about unwarranted interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and allow United Nations peacekeepers to be deployed in Sudan.
The saga over Sudan shows how sensitive the Chinese authorities have become to criticism, despite their impassive reputation. When Steven Spielberg resigned as an adviser to the Beijing Olympics in protest at China's failure to do more about Darfur, a shrill chorus of criticism arose from China's official media—suggesting that such gestures do indeed have an impact.
Chinese companies will inevitably find themselves in fierce competition with Western ones for natural resources, as they must if global markets are to work efficiently. For the most part, however, they do not operate very differently from their peers. To the extent that the Chinese government does subsidise oil production, it helps to bring down the price for everyone else (its subsidies for oil consumption are another matter). As the world's biggest consumer of many commodities, China naturally wants to ensure a steady supply of them to keep its economy going. But markets for commodities are global, and the risk of any one consumer cornering supplies, or securing them at a lower price, is negligible.
The worst fallout from China's quest for natural resources will be seen not in the countries they come from, nor in the countries that are competing for supplies, but in China itself. Over the past few years the volume of raw materials it consumes per unit of output has risen sharply. In particular, China has gone from miser to glutton in its use of energy, and is now struggling to diet. That has involved bigger imports of oil, gas and coal, and so more foreign entanglements. But it has also led to the rapid depletion of resources that China cannot import, such as clean air and water.
China is building a huge stock of grimy heavy industry, just as its coastal provinces are getting rich enough to care about the consequences. Protests about environmental issues are on the increase. There is not enough water in the Yellow River basin, which covers a huge swathe of northern China, to supply both farmers and factories. Acid rain from coal-fired power plants is reducing agricultural yields, raising the spectre of increased rural unrest. As it is, the authorities are struggling to ensure that the air will be fit for athletes to breathe at the Olympics in Beijing this summer. All the while, the number of noxious steel mills, cement kilns and power plants relentlessly increases. Global warming, which is fed by their fumes, will make all these problems even worse.
Environmental concerns are unlikely to bring down the Communist regime, or even to stir as much resentment as the arbitrary confiscation of land currently does among China's poorest. But those concerns are certainly prompting the government to reflect on what sort of economic path it wants to pursue. So far, its efforts to temper economic growth, encourage energy efficiency and wean the country off heavy industry have had little effect. But continued failure would eventually make China a less prosperous and more unstable place.
» » » » [The Economist]