Sunday, March 2, 2014

China filling the void left by an increasing impoverished West ? From Zero Hedge -- While the developed world is focusing on the rapidly deteriorating developments in the Crimean, China, which has kept a very low profile on the Ukraine situation aside from the token diplomatic statement, is taking advantage of this latest distraction to do what it does best: quietly take over the global periphery while nobody is looking ....... Focus on China increasing business , economic and security ties with Africa

Meanwhile, China Quietly Takes Over Zimbabwe

Tyler Durden's picture

While the developed world is focusing on the rapidly deteriorating developments in the Crimean, China, which has kept a very low profile on the Ukraine situation aside from the token diplomatic statement, is taking advantage of this latest distraction to do what it does best: quietly take over the global periphery while nobody is looking. 
Over two years ago we reported that none other than Zimbabwe - best known in recent history for banknotes with many zeros in them - was bashing the US currency, and had aligned itself with the Chinese Yuan. This culminated last month with the announcement by Zimbabwe’s central bank that it would accept the Chinese yuan and three other Asian currencies as legal tender as economic relations have improved in recent years. "Trade and investment ties between Zimbabwe, China, India, Japan and Australia have grown appreciably," said Charity Dhliwayo, acting governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Exporters and the public can now open accounts in yuans, Australian dollars, Indian rupees and Japanese yen, Dhliwayo said. Zimbabwe abandoned its worthless currency in 2009.

It accepts the US dollar and the South African rand as the main legal tender. Their use has helped to stabilise the economy after world-record inflation threw it into a tailspin.

Independent economist Chris Mugaga said the introduction of the Asian currencies would not make a huge difference to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

"It is Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy, which has forced this, and nothing else," he said.
And now, as a result of the "Look East Policy", we learn that China has just achieved what every ascendent superpower in preparation for "gunboat diplomacy" mode needs: a key strategic Air Force base. From the Zimbabwean.
China is planning to set up a modern high-tech military base in the diamond-rich Marange fields, says a German-based website, Telescope News.

The news of the agreement to set up the first Chinese military airbase in Africa comes amid increasing bilateral cooperation between Zimbabwe and China – notably in mining, agriculture and preferential trade. China is the only country exempted from the indigenisation laws which force all foreign investors to cede 51% of their shareholding to carefully selected indigenous Zimbabweans.

The airstrip at Marange has sophisticated radar
systems and ultra-modern facilities

The Marange story quoted unnamed military officials and a diplomat admitting knowledge of the plan to set up the base. Efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces were fruitless, as spokesperson Lt Col Alphios Makotore was consistently unavailable and did not respond to emails by the time of going to press.

The website speculated that China could be positioning itself for future “gunboat diplomacy” where its military presence would give it bargaining power against superpowers like the US. It would also be safeguarding its significant economic interests in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa.

Veil of secrecy

“Military officials in Zimbabwe said details of the airbase plan were sketchy and mostly classified due to the veil of secrecy around President Robert Mugabe’s relationship with China’s Red Army. A sizeable number of Chinese troops are reported to have their boots on the ground in the Marange diamond fields, which have since been cordoned off as a high level security zone,” said the publication.

It added that a senior Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer based in Harare confirmed that there were rumours of the impending establishment of the airstrip as a “follow up to a military treaty signed between China and Zimbabwe in July 2005”.

Telescope News has made sensational claims in recent weeks, among them that Defence Minister and Zanu (PF) Secretary for Legal Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was secretly anointed by the military to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

Key battleground

It quoted a former Asian diplomat deployed to Zimbabwe for almost a decade as saying: “Haven’t you heard that Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today? As such in terms of geo-politics Zimbabwe is already a key battleground, for various competing powers. During my stay there, we heard about many military agreements being signed between the two countries.”

Chinese companies are heavily involved in diamond mining, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Government. They are believed to have constructed the airstrip at Marange that many suspect is being used to clandestinely haul diamonds to unknown destinations. It has sophisticated radar systems and ultra-modern facilities.
At this point expect to see a prompt, and unexpected, escalation in hostilities in southern Africa, most likely due to latent ethnic conflict of some kind (and brought back to the surface with the help of a few CIA dollars), which in turn will be the justification for US drones to begin operations in proximity to Zimbabwe to keep up with China's encroaching take over of Africa, now from the south.

Perhaps most interesting is the finding that Zimbabwe's president-cum-dictator, Robert Mugabe, so widely despised by the west, is in fact on China's payroll:
Confidential Central Intelligence Organisation documents leaked last year suggested that China had played a central role in retaining President Robert Mugabe in the July 31 elections, indicating that high level military officers had worked closely with the local army in poll strategies while Beijing bankrolled Zanu (PF).

China is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner after South Africa and has strategic economic interests in many African countries to guarantee raw materials, job sources and markets for its huge population.

The new Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, recently said trade between the two countries last year exceeded the $1 billion mark. Yet Zimbabwe is only 26th on the list of China’s 58 biggest African trading partners.

The Asian country has supplied Zimbabwe with military hardware, including MIG jet fighters, tanks, armoured vehicles and rifles, since Independence.
In other words, while nobody was looking, China just took over one more nation without spilling a drop of blood. And now back to the regularly scheduled Crimean War part X.

China-Africa trade surpassed $200 billion in 2013Publish Date: Feb 23, 2014
China-Africa trade surpassed $200 billion in 2013
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The Kampala-Entebbe expressway is being constructed with the help of the Chinese government
BEIJING - China-Africa trade totalled more than $200 billion last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, highlighting the Asian powerhouse's burgeoning trade and investment ties with the continent.

"In 2013, Chinese-African trade surpassed the $200 billion mark for the first time, making China Africa's biggest trading partner," Xi told visiting Senegalese President Macky Sall, adding that Chinese direct investment in Africa grew 44 percent.

"That all stands witness to the endlessly renewed vitality of Sino-African friendship, to the scale of the potential for co-operation and the excellent outlook for the new kind of Sino-African strategic partnership," Xi said at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

Xi did not give an exact total.

But China-Africa trade has boomed in line with the Asian country's rise to become the world's second-biggest economy, which has been accompanied by a thirst for African natural resources to help fuel its growth.

Underscoring the continent's importance, Xi visited Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo as part of his first overseas tour after he become president in March last year.

But China's growing role has also sparked tensions in some countries.

In February last year, for example, the Zambian government seized control of a Chinese-owned coal company due to poor compliance with safety and environmental standards, its mines minister said. In 2012 workers at the mine killed a Chinese manager during rioting over work conditions.

Acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall told AFP in a recent interview that China was exploiting Africa's resources just as European colonisers did, with disastrous effects.

Zim-China trade tops $1,1 billion

via Zim-China trade tops $1,1 billion – DailyNews Live by Roadwin Chirara and John Kachembere  24 FEBRUARY 2014
Trade between China and Zimbabwe grew to over $1,1 billion last year as the southern African country’s reliance on the emerging Asian giant grows.
Lin Lin, the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, last week said business traffic between the two countries ballooned from $310 million in 2003 to $1,1 billion last year.
“According to statistics from the Chinese side, bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe has reached $1,102 billion in 2013, up by 8,53 percent compared to the previous year, of which Zimbabwean export is worth $688 million and import is $414 million,” he said in an exclusive interview with the Daily News.
China has emerged as Zimbabwe’s closest international ally after Western countries imposed sanctions on President Robert Mugabe, a decade ago over alleged violations of democracy and human rights abuses.
Relations between the two countries deepened further after Zimbabwe adopted a “Look East Policy” in 2003, and since then, China has become a major source of imports as the southern African country’s economy recovered from a decade of contraction.
Trade volumes have largely been driven by China’s growing appetite for raw materials while Zimbabwe has mainly exported tobacco and precious minerals.
Although trade between the two countries has been increasing steadily over the years, it spiked around 2010 when the country started enjoying economic stability under the hybrid government of Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Lin said the Chinese government has also provided support through donations to various initiatives in the country worth over $50 million since 2009.
In 2003, trade amounted to $197 million, $275 million in 2006, before quickening to $842 million in 2011 and $915 in 2012, breaching the billion-mark last year.
“Since 2009, bilateral trade between China and Zimbabwe has been on a fast track of development and trade volume has kept rising.
“I believe that in the next five years, with deepened cooperation between the two sides, the trade volume will continue to grow,” said Lin.
Despite the increase, Zimbabwe is ranked a distant 26 out of 58 of African traders with China.
Total Africa-China trade amounted to $198 billion with South Africa topping the list at $59 billion for 2012, more than half of the combined Sadc region figure of $107 billion.
“South Africa’s trade with China has been boosted by its membership in the BRICS group which comprises
Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
As a way of strengthening trade between the two countries, Zimbabwe in January announced the addition of the Chinese yuan, Indian rupee, Japanese yen, and Australian dollar to a cocktail of foreign currencies officially allowed to trade in the country.
The southern African country ditched its currency in 2009, after it had been rendered useless by hyperinflation which peaked at 231 million percent and began using a number of currencies including the United States dollar, the South African rand and the Botswana pula among others.
Zimbabwe faces a crippling liquidity crisis and allowing the new currencies to trade could be seen as a way of improving the country’s cash crisis.
Market experts, however, question the feasibility of the introduction of the Australian dollar and the Japanese yen.