U.S. Worries Over China’s Influence in Africa –WikiLeaks

The US is worried over increasing influence of China in Africa. China has been investing in Africa for minerals and other resources keeping its own resources untouched. Wikileaks released a cable yesterday on November 9, which revealed how Shell oil company infiltrated into Nigerian government and how US is worried about growing influence of China in Africa. The US ambassador is concerned that China will soon develop strategic relations such as military training and communications development.

A February cables quotes a senior US official in Nigeria’s main city, Lagos, describing China as "aggressive and pernicious with no morals". US diplomatic cables sent from Africa also reveal Shell oil company’s claims that it infiltrated Nigerian ministries. The cable quotes Johnnie Carson, US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, who had been meeting oil company representatives in Lagos.

Carson says China is in Africa for its own gains. He also opines that China is in Africa for securing votes in United Nations from African countries. Carson’s opinion is that the US is working in Africa to secure democracy and capitalism where as China has authoritarian capitalism. He criticised China for dealing with Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and Bashir’s Sudan.

Another US cable talks about China’s military and intelligence support for the government of Kenya. A Chinese enterprise is said to have won a contract to supply telephone-monitoring equipment to Kenya after bribes were paid while on a trip to China. Its influence in Kenya is said to have grown rapidly, with Chinese involvement in a host of infrastructure projects as well as collaboration with Kenya’s National Security and Intelligence Service.

The secret cables also say that Shell’s top executive in Nigeria at the time, Ann Pickard, told US diplomats that Shell Oil Company has good access to government information. A cable dated 20 October 2009 reveals a conversation Ms Pickard had with the then US ambassador to Nigeria, Robin Renee Sanders.

Ms Pickard told Sanders that she knew that Nigerian officials had found Chinese offers not good enough. Pickard said, Nigeria government had forgotten that Shell had seconded people to all the relevant ministries thereby gaining access to everything going on in the ministries, Ms Sanders reported. The dispatches also show that Shell exchanged intelligence with the US about militant activity in the oil-rich Niger Delta, where activists allege local people have suffered environmental damage because of the oil industry without extending the benefits to the local communities.

Environmental activists have long alleged that the oil giant Shell sponsors a powerful political group in Nigerian government. Their argument has got supporting evidence with Wikileak’s revelations. However, a Shell spokesperson was quoted by BBC as denying any comment over a private conversation revealed by a leaker cable.

U.S.’ hypocrisy of boasting itself as a supporter of democracy and democratic governments is once again manifested with Wikileaks’ leaked cables. It is well known that the US is only interested in establishing its influence in any region in the world. It has a long history of supporting authoritarian regimes simply because those regimes were subservient to the US interests. US supported Pinochet’s government of Chile, General Jia’s government in Pakistan, Suharto’s government in Indonesia several such authoritarian governments in Africa.

The US owns a history of toppling democratically elected governments in several countries. Recently, it has toppled Honduras government. It sponsored an unsuccessful coup in Venezuela and bombed Grenada’s government buildings killing its president. Encouraging Shell Company to infiltrate Nigerian government is not an act of supporting democracy. Influencing Spain government to cancel the contract awarded to Rolls-Royce and forcing to shift the award to General Electric Company cannot be taken as encouraging democracy.


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