Is China’s African reach crumbling? The first signs are now visible that Beijing’s decision to attract African countries to its supply chain as part of its ambitious Belt and Road (BRI) initiative over the past decade is emerging. wade. There has been a wave of cancellations of major projects undertaken by China on the African continent, with governments citing the debt trap that accompanies Beijing’s billions of injections, the quality and transparency issues around megaprojects and the hegemonic and “exploitative” approach of the Chinese.
It all started with Ghana’s cancellation of Beijing Everyway Traffic and Lighting Tech Company’s contract to develop an intelligent traffic management system for the country. This was followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which announced a review of mining contracts signed with China dating back to 2008. DRC President Felix Tshisekedi reportedly said: “Those with whom our country has signed agreements. contracts get richer while remain poor. Chinese state-owned companies Sinohydro Corp and China Railway Group were to build roads, hospitals and bridges in the DRC in exchange for a 68% stake in the country’s Sicomines company. Lack of transparency around the deal reportedly led Congo to review China-led projects in the country, while Ghana canceled the traffic management system project citing substandard work. Last year, a Kenyan High Court ordered the annulment of a $ 3.2 billion contract between Kenya and China for the construction of the standard gauge railway, calling the project “illegal. “.
According to the China-Africa Research Initiative at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, China signed 1,141 loan commitments worth $ 153 billion with various African governments and state-owned enterprises between 2000 and 2019. Massive loans, as experts have warned for some time, are becoming increasingly difficult to insure for developing countries, dragging them headlong into the debt trap.
The fact that most of the Chinese projects under the scanner in Africa are part of the BRI which aims to connect Asia to Africa and Europe via land and sea trade networks, has sounded the alarm in Beijing. But the Chinese political establishment can rejoice in the fact that neither the US-led West nor aspiring regional powers such as India have the will ~ or, indeed, a comprehensive plan ~ to bridge the gap. strategic vacuum that these developments can create. For now, Beijing hopes its approach of reaching out to African governments ostensibly informed by humility but underpinned by implicit threats will be enough to overcome the crisis. The math is that most of the retreating countries are already too far advanced for any substantial policy to move away from China.