“Today, China is increasingly authoritarian at home and more aggressive in its hostility to freedom everywhere” (Mike Pompeo’s speech at Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California, July 23rd, 2020).
Simply put, the USA Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, wants the rest of the world to know that China is a threat to the Sovereignty of Nations everywhere.
From Pompeo’s statement, vis-à-vis the prevailing circumstances in Chinese controlled territories like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Myanmar, one can imply that China is in a new drive towards the recolonisation of other Nations.
China may have succeeded in this new movement in some countries of the world, including some African countries; and with Nigeria’s borrowing history from China, our country may not be exempted in this regard.
Many believe that the US is not in the best position to make negative claims about China, considering that both are strong economic rivals. There are also growing concerns in some quarters that with the increasing growth of the Chinese economy, the United States is under threat of being overthrown as the most powerful economy in the world; hence the accusations and counter accusations against each other.
Perhaps one indication of this rivalry is seen in President Donald Trump’s insistence on calling the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” since it originated from China. Trump has often gone further to accuse the WHO of collaborating with the Chinese Government to withhold vital information from the public, leading to the death of many. So undoubtedly, there has been an economic Cold War between China and the United States of America.
While the USA is dominating other Nations of interest to them by fire arms deals, as well as the presence of their military personnel in those countries, China on the other hand, is making inroads through humongous loans to vulnerable, and third world countries of the world, especially in Africa.
Whichever way one decides to look at it, what’s clear is that both countries are out for their selfish interests – bordering on the need to gain power dominance through economic strength.
My attention in this article is focused more on China, and its selfish drive towards mortgaging third world economies, in such a strategic manner as to make those countries gradually cede their sovereignty to them.
China is on this mission no longer by way of conquering territories with military might, but by giving huge loans to struggling economies, with memoranda of understanding that are written in Chinese language, with nebulous and tricky clauses that are carefully drafted to eventually land those unsuspecting countries in big trouble.
However, a few questions come to mind. Did China mortgage her sovereignty to rise from abject poverty in decades past to be the second largest economy in the world today? If not, why is Nigeria and other countries of the world, particularly some African countries, rich in human and natural resources capable of putting them ahead of China and other countries of the world doing just that? To answer the second question, one would simply say that it is the implications of visionless, or myopic leaderships.
The rise to economic strength by China was not a bird of roses. It was due to the collective interests of all her citizens, fueled by her visionary and purposeful leaders. As evil as the current agenda of China may seem, one cannot deny the fact that it fits into their vision of becoming the biggest economy in the world.
It’s preposterous that African leaders, despite all the resources at their disposal, would rather take China’s bait, and take loans with hooks because of an abject lack of vision. Why do most African leaders want to perpetually remain under the control of other countries who do not have their interests at heart?
Fellow Africans, do we fold our hands and allow these visionless leaders continue to impoverish us? Is it not time that Africa wakes up from her slumber and takes her collective future into her hands?
It is in the public domain that some African countries due to outrageous loans from China, have already ceded part of their sovereignty to China. The Chinese now control some of those countries’ ministries; Zambia is a case in point. Now, the biggest target is Nigeria; Africa’s ‘big brother.’
To begin with, what happened to the recovered 400million USD Abacha loot? Why does the Federal Government of Nigeria (through the Ministry of Transportation) want to borrow the equivalent of that sum from China, when proper account has not been rendered regarding the former? Why was the loan agreement allegedly written in Chinese language?
The minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has come out to refute the allegation that the loan agreement was in Chinese. According to him, the loan was written both in Chinese and English. This means that he is not oblivious of the implications therein.
Amaechi had told the house committee on transportation that with the way they are over reacting, China may not give out the loan. Amaechi, “who appeared as a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on August 4th, 2020 explained that he told the National Assembly members not to probe the loan issue too much in order not to scare the lender”(“China Loans: Why I Told Reps Not To Probe Too Much-Amaechi,” Channelstv.com, by Ignatius Igwe, August 4, 2020).
On the allegation of ceding Nigeria’s sovereignty to China, Amaechi said, “The terms contained in the agreement is not as if we are signing off the country’s sovereignty. What we do is that we give a sovereign guarantee, which is an immunity clause. The clause is that in case the country defaults, China will come to collect the items agreed upon” (“Chinese loans: We’re not ceding sovereignty to China— Amaechi,” Guardian News, by Joke Falaju and Segun Olaniyi, August 2nd, 2020).
Reacting to Amaechi’s insistence, let us consider this obvious fact. The issue here is not about China taking over Nigeria’s assets. It is about mortgaging Nigerian’s sovereignty in the terms of a loan that we seem not to fully understand. What are the chances that Nigeria will not default? With the way Nigeria is going, what economic miracle will suddenly make us able to repay such huge amounts of money? Isn’t our sovereignty already as good as sold?
If our leaders across Africa are not visionless, won’t they look inwards for possible solutions to our economic crises? We cannot be so rich, and yet so poor. As responsible citizens of this great continent, let us rise to the occasion, and set up a road map for a better continent.
We can achieve this, by relentlessly and collectively setting our leaders on their toes. Together, we can define a better future for our future generation. Thus, let us say no to humongous loans. Let us not mortgage our collective futures because of greed. The right time is NOW!
© Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI, August 20, 2020
Israel GodsPower ANAWEOKHAI is a Catholic Priest of the Missionary Society of St Paul. He is currently on mission in the Archdiocese of Douala, Cameroon.