China just wants to secure resources and get out


China had embarked on a focused economic campaign to expand ties and secure natural resources throughout Africa but it had little interest in providing meaningful investment. It just wanted to secure resources and get out.

This was said by South African representative Horst Brammer at the American Institute in Taiwan seven years ago long before China had become the world’s second largest economy.

Brammer said China was aggressively seeking resources and raw materials for its growing economic needs and was looking to Africa for crude oil, base metals, and other minerals.

He also noted that Beijing had pressed African governments facing economic problems to sell a controlling stake in national resources in exchange for loans and cash.

For example in Zimbabwe, he said, President Robert Mugabe went to China to seek a US$1 billion loan. Beijing refused the loan but instead arranged a deal in which in exchange for assistance, Mugabe promised Beijing co-ownership of various mining rights in Zimbabwe.

Ed: Brammer was saying what the Americans and the West want to hear. But the question is: if the West was doing such a good job in Africa, how did China creep in when all it wanted was to exploit

these poor African countries? And in Zimbabwe, there are a lot of people singing the same hymn.


Full cable:



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Reference ID






2005-08-08 01:21

2011-08-30 01:44


American Institute Taiwan, Taipei

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 07 TAIPEI 003262






E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/04/2015




Classified By: AIT Director Douglas Paal, Reason 1.4 (b/d)


1. (C) Summary: The PRC is promoting an economic and

political campaign in Africa to expand its regional

influence, secure natural resources, and pressure Taiwan’s

diplomatic partners. Taiwan officials and African diplomats

resident in Taipei state Beijing is offering economic

incentives to governments in exchange for mining rights and

is actively pursuing energy deals throughout the continent.

The PRC is also using its growing international influence,

wielding its UN Security Council membership for national

gain, and using regional organizations to expand its presence

in Africa and entice opposition leaders and government

officials to derecognize Taiwan. The diplomats further

assess that Taipei’s African foreign policy strategy is

inadequate and does not address the current global realities

in light of the PRC’s growing international clout. They note

that Taiwan officials themselves see little hope for

countering Beijing in Africa. End summary.


Beijing’s Economic Campaign



2. (C) Beijing has embarked on a focused economic campaign to

expand ties and secure natural resources throughout the

continent. South African Representative Horst Brammer told

AIT that the PRC is aggressively seeking resources and raw

materials for Beijing’s growing economic needs and is looking

to Africa for crude oil, base metals, and other minerals. He

told AIT that while Beijing’s influence across Africa is

increasing, there is no good will in the PRC’s efforts to

promote its interests and noted that there is very little

substantive PRC investment reaching African communities or

promoting the long term interests of the region. Brammer

argued that the PRC is focused on its long term goal of

securing political influence through its economy, but has

little interest in providing meaningful investment. It

primarily wants to secure resources and get out.


3. (C) Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Deputy

Director General for African Affairs, Jacques Wu, told AIT

that the PRC’s economic campaign in Africa includes a myriad

of economic incentives and trade pacts to promote Beijing’s

interests. Wu noted that Beijing is using Free Trade

Agreements (FTA) to expand trade tries with several African

nations including Uganda, Nigeria, and Kenya. South Africa’s

Brammer reported that there have been many PRC sponsored

trade delegations throughout the continent and said that

Beijing is pushing an FTA with the Southern Africa

Development Community (SADC), which is composed of thirteen

nations in Southern Africa. He told AIT that Pretoria

anticipates Beijing will try to pressure South Africa

demanding that Swaziland must derecognize Taiwan before

PRC-SADC FTA talks can move forward.


4. (C) Brammer also noted that Beijing has pressed African

governments facing economic problems to sell a controlling

stake in national resources in exchange for loans and cash.

Brammer likened this to a new form of colonialism and

lamented that some countries were essentially selling off

their independence to the PRC as Beijing becomes entrenched

in various sectors of their economies. For example in

Zimbabwe, he noted that President Robert Mugabe recently went

to the PRC to seek a USD one billion dollar loan. Beijing

refused the loan but instead arranged a deal in which in

exchange for assistance, Mugabe promised Beijing co-ownership

of various mining rights in Zimbabwe. In Senegal, MOFA’s Wu

said that Beijing is pursuing a similar strategy and has been

trying to buy rights to iron mines.


Actively Pursuing Oil Deals



5. (C) A major focus of the PRC’s campaign in Africa is its

drive to secure oil resources. Oman Commercial Office

Director in Taipei Sulaiman Bin Sultan Al-Mughairy told AIT

that the PRC is aggressively pursuing oil exploration

projects in the Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Ghana, Chad and

a number of other countries. Chad Embassy First Counselor

Guedmadingar Masdongar confirmed to AIT that Beijing is

actively pursuing oil projects in Chad – a diplomatic partner

of Taiwan – via joint ventures with Canadian and other energy

firms. Oman’s Al-Mughairy told AIT that Taiwan has only

recently begun making efforts to sign oil deals, largely in

response to the PRC, but he remarked that Beijing already has

a substantial advantage in Africa because it has the

influence to block Taiwan. The Director of the Forum on

African Studies at National Chengchi University’s Institute

of International relations (IIR), Chen Shen-yen, added that

Taiwan has been left out of the oil race in Africa because

Taipei has mainly focused on maintaining African partners

instead of pursuing ventures that benefit Taiwan’s economic



PRC Migration Also Helping Beijing



6. (C) Large scale PRC migration to Africa is also advancing

the PRC’s economic reach. South Africa’s Brammer told AIT

that there are large numbers of illegal and legal PRC

immigrants residing in South Africa. He said that Pretoria

estimates there are 50,000-80,000 illegal PRC nationals and

possibly as many as 100,000 legal Chinese residents in South

Africa. IIR’s Chen noted that in addition to South Africa,

West Africa is also seeing many PRC immigrants, who are

helping advance Beijing’s business interests by investing and

seeking joint ventures with African firms. Brammer lamented

that the influx is also bringing PRC organized crime

elements, which are involved in trafficking, smuggling, and

other illegal activities. He noted that there have been

instances where Chinese tour groups visit South Africa but

only the tour leader returns to the PRC.


Courting Political and Government Leaders



7. (C) Beijing is also utilizing its economic leverage to woo

political and government leaders to switch ties from Taiwan

to the PRC. MOFA’s Wu told AIT that Beijing has been

focusing in particular on Taiwan ally Sao Tome and Principe’s

ruling party, the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and

Principe (MLSTP). In February 2005, the PRC invited MLSTP

head Manual Pinto to Beijing for talks on the prospects of

Sao Tome switching diplomatic ties to Beijing (Note: Pinto

was President of Sao Tome’s Socialist Government from

1975-1991. End note). Wu speculated that Beijing’s interest

in Sao Tome and Principe is Sao Tome’s large oil reserves

believed to be off-shore. South Africa’s Brammer opined that

Sao Tome and Principe would be the next Taiwan diplomatic

partner that will be lost to the PRC because of Beijing’s

heavy pressure.


8. (C) MOFA’s Wu told AIT that in Malawi and Swaziland the

PRC is courting opposition leaders and political parties with

promises of economic aid and kickbacks in exchange for

encouraging the government to recognize Beijing. IIR’s Chen

noted that Taiwan partner Senegal is also wavering because

President Abdoulaye Wade is seeking to expand Dakar’s

international exposure and influence within the region and

has approached global organizations for assistance. Chen

speculated that President Wade will need the PRC’s support if

he hopes to realize his aims of additional aid for Dakar and

thus, will seek to open ties with the PRC.


Using Multilateral Diplomacy



9. (C) Beijing has sought to promote a foreign policy that

utilizes multilateral organizations and its position on the

Security Council to expand its influence in Africa and exert

pressure on Taiwan. South Africa’s Brammer pointed out that

in 2002 Beijing threatened to use its Security Council veto

to block the peace keeping budget for Liberia if Monrovia did

not switch diplomatic ties to the PRC. (Note: In response,

Liberia recognized the PRC in October 2002. End note).

MOFA’s Wu added that the PRC is also using regional

organizations such as the Africa Union, SADC, and the African

Development Bank to pressure Taiwan’s diplomatic partners.

Chad’s Masdongar told AIT that during African Union meetings,

the Presidents of Senegal, Chad, and Sao Tome and Principe

were encouraged by other African Union members to break

relations with Taiwan. IIR’s Chen added that Beijing has

also developed the Sino-Africa forum, which meets every two

years, and uses this forum as a tool to build influence by

forgiving debt and offering aid only to governments that

recognize the PRC.

Taiwan Unable to Combat Beijing



10. (C) Taipei has been slow to adopt, or even face the need

for a new long-term diplomatic strategy and has been content

to rely on outdated policies to counter Beijing. Taiwan

government officials admit that Taipei’s position in Africa

is worsening, although MOFA’s Wu said Taiwan is trying its

best to maintain its small foothold in Africa by

differentiating itself from Beijing with various aid projects

that benefit the people rather than support corrupt

officials. He said that most of Taiwan’s aid projects are

focused on agriculture, health, education, and sanitation

while Beijing typically builds large infrastructure projects

such as soccer stadiums or bridges.


11. (C) South Africa’s Brammer agreed that Taipei has many

excellent aid projects that do much for the region, but he

argued that Taiwan is losing ground to the PRC because Taipei

is still using “conventional diplomacy in an unconventional

world.” Brammer argued that Taiwan should adopt a different

diplomatic strategy and that Taipei is wasting resources on

inconsequential nations that do not give Taiwan anything in

return. He said that Taipei should focus on nations that

play a larger role in Taiwan’s stability and its commercial

interests and contends that the Chen administration must not

link independence rhetoric and Taiwanese identity to its

diplomatic strategy. He further asserted that Taiwan’s

obsession with diplomatic recognition has only reduced its

international credibility because of the type of countries

that Taipei supports.


Comment: Little Taiwan Can or Will Do



12. (C) Taiwan has been unable to counter the PRC’s challenge

in Africa because Beijing has the resources and the strategy

to outmaneuver and outbid Taipei. On the home front in

Taiwan, legislators and the public are growing weary of

generous aid packages being offered to African nations simply

to maintain symbolic diplomatic ties that offer little in

return. Taipei does have much to offer in the technical and

humanitarian assistance arena, but new strategies that

promote this experience can only go so far against the array

of economic incentives Beijing is offering to African

leaders. Moreover, the majority of nations in Africa that

recognize Taiwan are not overly concerned about Taipei’s

democratic values and, more often than not, the biggest

factor in the recognition game is simply how much aid flows

into the government’s pockets. As long as Taiwan continues

to refuse to address this reality and relies on traditional

diplomatic strategies, Taipei will continue to be

marginalized in Africa and around the world.




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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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