The United States and China recolonization of the Congo

Kaysha Stjwd4ci8wy Unsplash
Masina Kinshasa (photo: courtesy of Kaysha)

The power of China in the world in general and developing countries in particular is not new. The Chinese are now having their turn in the colonization process in the world. What European powers did in the nineteenth century after the Berlin Conference of 1884 unleashed the possession of Africa by Europe, a phenomenon that was simply termed colonization. Very few nations in Africa, Asia and the Americas escaped that subjugation. In Africa, only Ethiopia and Liberia were not colonized and in South East Asia, the French and the British failed after numerous attempts. The Thai people love their sovereignty so much that they preferred to let go of a portion of their territory to France, in order to remain free. That explains why Laos became a French protectorate and then colony between 1893 and 1953 and Thailand never experienced colonization.

It is needless to repeat that colonization brought upon Africa all types of exploitation, humiliation and destruction of nations’ ego. The natural resources were pillaged and enabled the industrial take-off of Western countries like the UK, a country whose resources are coal and the sea only, and used the mineral and other natural resources of her colonies to kick-start their industrial revolution. In the same vein, France that produces no gold happens to have a large repository of gold, that comes from the territories that were colonized by France; it contributes to attach those countries economically to France. Colonization caused several scholars like the Guianese Walter Rodney to utter seminal statements like: “Africa developed Europe at the same rate that Europe underdeveloped Africa”. China was not a superpower when Europe was at the peak of her domination in the world. China was busy drafting development plans and strategies at that period. Chiang Kai‐shek, Mao Ze Dong and other leaders with vision were working to establish a road map that would lead to the repositioning of China, from the margin to the centre.

The power that China gained is now being used for the Chinese colonization in the world. Every nation owes China in one way or another. The US takes into consideration the economic and geopolitical weight of only one nation: China. But what China is doing these days is a special colonization that deserves serious thought. The rule of that country over nations whose natural and human potential she covets is multifaceted and complicated. The whole world seems to watch, in a state of powerlessness, the progress of Chinese hegemony which has among others, cultural negative effects on the countries that are victims. An example is the Chinese instructor who was seen in an African country teaching children extremely self-deprecating sentences and phrases in a video in February 2020. Teaching Chinese language for free and allocating scholarship to students in Africa and other developing continents to train in China is the new and strongest educational and cultural phenomenon. What makes this Chinese domination special is the unfair, unjust, near-slavery form that it takes, coupled with the neutralization of the governing system and powers especially in the case of Africa. An observation that perfectly illustrates the real flavour of Chinese hegemony is the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the firm power that China imposes over this country, in the exploitation of the mineral resources of the country.

We could start by pointing out that the DRC is known to have the most precious mineral resources of the world and two other factors emerge in this case, also. The US is losing her grip over several  countries to China, and, strangely enough,  a mineral-rich country like the DRC has a population that lives in  utter misery. The Democratic Republic of Congo is torn between war camps, and the fertile lands of the country are left untouched since most citizens prefer to migrate to the cities (of the DRC or neighboring countries) to sell their skills and use their income for a luxurious life style which is totally fake, a sad truth that leaves many development experts aghast.

If one decided to explore or experience the natural riches of the DRC, this is what the trajectory of that path might be.set You might want to start your journey from the mountains of North Kivu where the mines of Rubaya are, in a very beautiful area called Masisi. The next set of mines, still in the same area, are called the “Mines of Walikale” and there, one comes face-to-face with the untouchable power of an American mining company, Alphamine  that usurps the governance of all the Congolese institutions. An authorization of the presidency of the country and all the institutions that regulate the mining sector, plus the presence of some MPs and a flight in a national airplane do not grant access to the site. That makes you wonder what the American company has to hide and also leads one to accept the information that contends that in those mines, Americans extract gold, tin, cassiterite which is the source of tin metal, coltan, a heat resistant powder that can store electrical charge and niobium, a very rare and special mineral used in the stabilization of rockets.

The company is accountable to no one, although it is situated on Congolese territory, with its own airstrip, the highest Congolese authorities are not welcomed there. Moving forward, it might be difficult to access North Kivu, an area under siege and ruled by a sovereign military governor whose status is close to that of a king. These two cases blatantly undermine the concept or idea of an independent DRC.

Then, moving to South Kivu, one finds the Lihuhu mines, in the Kabare territory, niched in a breathtaking beautiful environment. Unfortunately, modern day slavery is present, workers were made to dig profound holes on a surface situated at an altitude of 2, 200 meters, where only heather grows. From Bukavu, the capital city of that area, the next place to visit in such a mission should be the mining area of Kamituga. Due to the insecurity on the roads in that war-torn country, little airplanes are the means of transportation. But a plane cannot land in that mining area, without the authorization of the Chinese. There is, therefore, a Chinese territory in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The most baffling aspect is that no one knows what minerals are extracted there, what the quantity is and what is really done in the area. The Nobel peace laureate Denis Mukwege laments the fact that the Chinese trade in gold by selling it on the black market, under the protection of their own militia. Nobody can say, for sure, where their authority comes from. So, they pay no tax and pocket the dollars they get from the sales and leave. Moving further, one lands on Kitutu little airport. The surprise there is the fact the Chinese demolished the road leading to the mine, making it impossible to access the site without their control or agreement. The mining area is labelled a “non-authorized” one, belonging to a Chinese company whose name remains secret. A phone call from the minister in charge of the mines cannot move the Chinese. In fact, such a phone call would accomplish only one thing: the Chinese closing all their offices, doors, gates, and vanishing (temporarily of course) from the scene. Be it journalists, tourists or ministers, access to the site is not granted.

All this is revolting to the famous international Cameroonian-born political scientist and journalist, Alain Foka, who asks the younger generation of Africans not to repeat the mistakes made by their seniors, which is to remain amorphous and watch foreign companies pillage all the natural resources of the nation, with no respect for countries that are said to be independent.

Moussa Traoré is Associate Professor at the Department of English of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

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  1. China as a Hegemonic Hyena, A Reading of Traore’s Piece

    Allow me a space to constructively comment on your piece both as commenting and constructively critiquing. First, I am enthused with your writing prowess. Your sense of Pan -Africanism is riveting. The issue of Chinese imperialism in Africa was long written on the war especially the turn of the millennium. The administration of Huu Jin Tao started sniffing entry possibilities of African. I am happy you anatomized the Democratic Republic of Congo. Beyond DRC, Chinese colonialization is prevalent in almost all African countries especially the Western, Eastern and Central cardinal points. Today in Ghana, in the western region, specifically, Wassa Akropong, we have China Town where inscriptions on stores are all written in China. Begging for answers is, how did this China invasion of African start?
    Our over dependency on foreign aid beyond the mere rhetoric of independence has done Africa no good. With the pregnant nature of resources in DRC, one wonders why the country will continue to be on sick bed like the sickle cell Ghana. We have not taken steps in resourcing our human resources. We have been hunters of grant from China.
    But I humbly think, you left the African leaders of hook in this Chinese hegemony. The thousand dollar question is who first gave them entry? When many of our African leaders sat your political puppets in Beijing on the infamous, China-Africa, Beijing Conference and nodded like colonial lizards to China’s foreign policies for African, did they think twice? Did our political grafters masquerading as political Messiahs thought of what China stood to gain in granting grants and scholarships to Africans. China is the worse form of the Britain Wood institutions, IMF and IBRD (World Bank). They give loans with stringent conditions that benefit them. You should have hit hard on corrupt African leaders whose looting with their apparatchiks have always joined hands with imperial bandwagon. From independence in 1960, that is 63 years now, Democratic Republic of Congo has been ruled by only 5 leaders. Yes, I know my readers are flabbergasted by it, only five leaders. Both former African bestiality, Mobutu and Kabila ruled a combined 48 years of the 63. Why won’t Chinese colonize DRC when Mobutu was worst than colonialism itself?
    I admire your extensive research into the nooks and crannies of Africa but I dare say in all humility that China will no sooner control the entire continent if our leaders continue to open their arms like impoverished children of Mogadishu to beg for their daily bread from Beijing.

  2. I think to the so called super powers, African states have not gotten their independence but ‘in dependence’ because of bad and absent leadership. Even Ghana, the first west African nation had to secure an IMF intervention through the help of China, making the Chinese government controlling half the returns of certain state owned enterprises.

  3. Thank you for bringing up this Chinese mineral constructions.
    Let me state without mincing words that, Democratic Republic of Congo is not the only country in Africa suffering in the hands of these Chinese. Many countries including my country Ghana suffer on daily basis.
    The only pathetic issue of Congo is where her sovereignty is sold to these Chinese.
    Meaning, you haven’t learn anything from colonization?
    The 1884 Berlin Conference should have been your guide.
    Admittedly, Africa has rich mineral resources but they cannot be sufficiently exploited and utilized.
    Due to the advanced technology of the Chinese, several countries in Africa welcome them.
    Africa can never be independent of the whites due to poor technological know-how. A couple of years ago in Ghana,a certain small Chinese girl was in Ghana for mining concessions. The question is, how did she get into the country in the first place?
    Our political heads and traditional leaders,take their stippens and pave the way for such destructions.
    My problem with DRC is, so from the 19th century to this 21st century, you still haven’t gained independence?
    Why colonization?
    Finally,the issue of Chinese schooling in Africa and even chinese as incorporated into our schools curricular,is a calculated plan to understand the African culture dynamics and which will consequently lead to colonization as it’s happening in the DR Congo.
    I’m very grateful,Traoore for your quick notice of the Chinese hidden agenda.
    Thank you so much.
    ……sakara Mumuni….

  4. An eye-opening read on the complex ties between China, the US, and the Congo’s mineral resources. Looks like same thing is happening in Ghana too. Let’s stand against exploitation and advocate for responsible resource management. #GlobalIssues #SustainableFuture

  5. The mechanisms the Chinese are using is serious than the US. The AU could’ve been of help but they ain’t that strong cos the associates (presidents) are not ready to join hands… tragic!

  6. Thank you. That’s the fact I was expecting to hear. Many African people think that some of these powers are more or less better than others; no, they are the same, fishes in the same lake. As we said ” a leopard cannot change its spots but it can change its strategies”. So, crying this country is better than this one or change a partner is Fallacious it can not rockets the Africa’s development. I think the best way for we africans is to put ourselves in use, stop being consuming continent, place emphasis on both of technical and agricultural training. These powers are pillaging us only to cater for their population while we africans are lamenting the lack of infrastructure and amenities in our countries. We should always put in our mind:” the charity begins at home” so these powers are not mistaken for what they are doing.

  7. Very interesting paper that could really rise the awareness of the African government.
    what is happening in Congo RD is like what is happening in other African countries. Very sad.

    As you mentioned in the paper, the power of China is the *leadership* which today coupled with the population makes china economically strong.

    This leadership lack African countries, where none of them did have a vision of their development road map in 50 or 100 year plans.

  8. This is so heartbreaking and outrageous. How can all the heinous acts be going on, on one’s own land yet nothing is done about it? The whites have stepped on Africans for a very long time and this must stop. Enough is enough

  9. This is serious oo…. possessing such authority over DRC on their own land…wow… Africa must think

  10. I am shocked by this article. That an African country has natural resources but has no control over its utilization: Rather, foreign countries as USA and chines have the control and can do what they like and no one can question their operations. This is absolutely madness and even worse than direct colonization.
    We must really rise up as Africans and resist this re-colonization, for it is encompassing as my own country is struggling to even keep our water bodies safe because of illegal mining which the media have reported that Chines and other foreigners and not leaving out some of our own people, are behind it. What is Ghana getting from AngloGoldAshante ?

    The youth must rise up, think differently and change the trend of recolonization.

  11. Mmm, will Africa be free from this domineering from other countries?Our leaders must realized the evil intention of West freebies and persue visions that would liberate the continent of Africa from these colonial menacles. Thank you for given me insight into the happenings about Africa.

  12. Thank you for your wonderful article always.
    This situation is very sad. As said Alain Foka, is now new generation fight against this kind of situation.
    I think also this almost the same situation which is happened in Guinea at Boké region where they extract bauxite. While nobody can tell what are amount, quality are they extract. There are training the students and workers in this region to learn Chinese.
    Now, is adpt to new generation to change our mindset and fight for our right.
    Thomas Sankara said ” Un esclave qui n’est pas capable d’assurer sa révolte ne mérite pas qu’on s’apitoy sur son sort.
    Thus, it is now time for the new generation to fight.
    Many thanks for your wonderful article.

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