There is a war going on between France and China, a war with battles, but … not against each other. A war with words being said and deals being done, but … not with each other. A war between two powerful countries, but … not in either of their own countries.
France is the former colonial power in many of the countries in west and central Africa and it has tried desperately to maintain close links with businesses and politicians but Africa as a continent has come to realize what British people have known for centuries. The French are lame.
France launched a military intervention into Mali in January, they say it was to try and stop the al-Qaeda-linked fighters advancing north but really this is just one of several lame tactics to try and show Africa their doing something. France is now preparing to reduce its troop presence and hand over control of the situation to the ill-equipped Malian army and a regional African force. Has the French 4 month intervention changed much so far? Not really, in fact the whole operation has been quite lame.
The Chinese are everywhere in Africa. Over the past sixteen years China has made a determined effort to strengthen its trading, military and political ties with over forty African countries. Chinese projects include hotels and a railway in Nigeria, hotels in Algeria, telephone networks in Tunisia, hotels in Sierra Leone, supermarkets, boat construction and hotels in Liberia, aircraft production in Egypt, hotels in Tanzania, oil drilling and production in Sudan and hotels in Ethiopia. In fact one guy somewhere might predict by 2020 90% of hotels in the whole of the African continent will have been funded by China.
Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Since trading began between China and South Africa in January 1998, the amount traded between the two countries has grown from a puny $1.6 billion to a grand $25.7 billion. China is now the top destination for South Africa’s exports, followed by the US, Japan and Germany. In the game of international chess this was an important move, or is it international monopoly, if that’s the case China is definitely winning on hotels.
So how has France reacted to this invasion that isn’t really an invasion by the Chinese? How can the economically weak French react to the road, rail but mostly hotel building Asians. France Telecom. The agreement to manage the 2,000 towers for Orange across Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon in a move to cut costs and improve its networks in often difficult areas to operate. It may sound like another lame move by the French but it’s sneaky, sneaky and slippery like … someone French. They may not have the money to build stuff but they have the knowhow to send stuff via stuff to stuff (telecommunications).
A less sneaky, slippery approach to gaining presence in Africa is Frances deployment of over 500 French troops in Bangui to support the Central African Republic’s (CAR) new regime headed by Michel Djotodia.
So to equal such deals as the Free Trade Agreement who the Chinese People’s Republic of China made with the Southern African Customs Union, the French made a deal with the Multinational Force of Central Africa a combined force of Rebel militia made up of two major groups based in north-eastern Central African Republic, the Union of Democratic Forces for Unity and the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace, as well as the lesser known Patriotic Convention for Saving the Country. A deal which was made between the Bangui Ministry of External Affairs and the Chief of Staff of the French Army. So In other words the to match the CPR’S FTA with SACU Frances’s CEMAT made a deal with Bangui’s MEA to work with FOMAC who are made up of the UFDR the CPJP and the CPSK. Now you know.
So has the astronomically acronymed tactic worked? Or has it turned out to be a bit lame?
Leader of CAR Djotodia said that he will review the CAR’s mining and oil contracts with China, signed by the old Bozizé government, “to see whether things were badly done, to try and sort them out.”Djotodia also said that he would invite France, along with the United States, to retrain the untrained official military. Djotodia cemented the expectation that he is going to embrace French presence by saying: “We will rely on the European Union to help us develop this country. When we have been sick, the European Union was at our bedside. It will not abandon us now.”
So the slippery, slimy French are squeezing back in among their old African chums and edging the Chinese off the bed.
“It was an unfamiliar scene in the Libyan capital’s upscale residential neighbourhood, which left many confused,” wrote Tripoli resident Rana Jawad, following a bomb which wounded two French guards and several others. “People know what has happened, but they don’t understand why, or who did it.” A very unreliable source in my head said …. It was the Chinese … O snap!