Opinions Tue, 29 May 2007

21st Century Sino-Imperialism

21st Century Sino-Imperialism: The Dragon’s Neo-Colonial Adventures to Vapourize Ghana’s Remaining Resources

Contemporary post Cold War Ghanaian politics is becoming another déjà vu. Sino-Ghanaian economic co-operation, and the many sweet investment deals offered by communist China to the Ghanaian government must be scrutinized with some degree of moral apprehension. While China’s attractive investment offers are considered by the Ghanaian leadership to be less overbearing on the nation’s insolvent economy, Ghana(ians) should not be wheedled by the charms of an Oriental Dragon whose voracious appetite for natural resources dwarfs 21st century America’s.

Chinese loans baits and our nation’s proclivity to getting easily addicted to “freebies” without foreseeing the long-term consequences in courting an asymmetrical “friendship” with China could weaken Ghana’s fledgling recovery from a crippling debt. Secondly, it could also diminish the nation’s ability to negotiate exceedingly benign loans and contracts from semi-core economies that are truly committed to Ghana’s development, and empathetic to her present misery. And, thirdly, it will encourage a subset of nostalgic political tyrants to resuscitate political monocracy, reject political pluralism and institutional reforms to undercut Ghana’s promising democratic initiative. Our nation’s growing dependence on Chinese investments could also encumber our weak economy with a gratuitously-acquired debt burden. Our nation, I believe, remembers vividly the continent’s acquisition of a crushing debt in the aftermath of independence, and the petro-dollar era; a stage in nation’s political evolution which converted Ghana into a proxy battlefield for Cold War politics in return for foreign aid.

Can Ghana afford the luxury of undergoing another cycle of debt-acquisition after the West had grudgingly cancelled (a portion of) her debt? Do our leaders ever invoke the eidetic imageries of the Ethiopian famine, the Ogaden War, Apartheid South Africa’s repression of Black South Africa(ns) among postcolonial Africa’s many tribulations? In my judgement, post Cold War Ghana must not replace America, or the defunct Soviet Union, with another foreign power. Communist China is no better, and Ghana(ians) must reject China’s mutated intentions, and subtle imperial ambitions.

China’s choreographed photo-opportunity with our nation’s desperate leaders doesn’t make the Asian powerhouse a model country. Matter of fact, beneath the veneer of China’s non-aggressive investment policy, and gentle attitude, is a country with unparallel mastery in diplomatic cunningness. For example, China investment in Sudan oilfields is partly to be blamed for Khartoum’s war of attrition against Southern Sudanese and West Darfurians. Despite professing to be a friend of Africa, China continues to lend support to General Al-Bashir’s repressive regime. Not only has China stationed soldiers in Sudan to protect Petro-China’s (i.e. China National Petroleum Corporation’s) “bloody” investments, she remains a major supplier of military hardware to the Sudanese army. Many of fact, China has allowed the Sudanese Air Force to use Chinese-made Sheyang jetfighters to bomb rebel positions in Southern Sudan and West Darfur. In defiance of universal morality and international law, China has used her veto at the Security Council (UNSC) to undercut international efforts to address the crisis in West Darfur. Royalties from Chinese oil companies have also enabled Khartoum to repulse the international community from settling the Sudanese crisis. Ghana noble standing as a defender of Africa’s rights, and nucleus for Africa’s liberation will be called into question if she continues to cavort with China without ever raising the afflictions of West Darfur.

Just as the West have done, and failed, China cannot salvage Ghana’s infirmed social programs. Schooled in the tricks of oriental exploitation, China is experientially versed in dissecting the psychology of Ghanaian leaders, and their penchant for technological anthills, European-tailored suits, eye-popping gifts, unnecessary foreign travels, and kickbacks. By offering loans to Ghana with few conditionalities, if any, China is slowly expanding her global reach, and influence over our nation’s foreign policy. With an insightful knowledge of African leaders’ fascination with autocratic rule, China has cultivated the unremitting habit of invoking “national sovereignty” and “non-interference clause” against repressive African regimes as long as these corrupt leaders commit to preserving China’s continuous exploitation of their resources.

To forestall 21st Sino- imperialism, Ghanaians must redirect their globetrotting leaders to encourage their citizens to invest in the domestic economy, and not make irrelevant their overtures to be part of growing the nation’s economy. The promotion of domestic entrepreneurship won’t put Ghana into any further debt than she already has. Rather, it will generate badly needed revenue from the socially-responsible and wealthy Ghanaian investors to fund social programs and developmental projects. Unlike foreign Multinational Corporations, Ghanaian investors won’t repatriate ninety percent of their annual profit to foreign banks.

The time is perfectly right for the present government to initiate a productive dialogue with Ghanaian investors. The state and the government must adopt investment policies that are legally binding; laws that protect local investments from unfair practices, destructive competitions, political takeovers, and an unnecessary interference from a criminal justice system which is infiltrated by wealthy criminals who masquerade as legitimate business partners, and use their political connections to swindle their investment partners. 21st century Ghana can, and must, take the driver’s seat. These are tentative alternatives worth examining, and not solutions as some would call them. Good day and cheers.

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Obenewaa, Nana Amma