Africa News � 22nd December 2008

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Africa News � 22nd December 2008 Powered By Docstoc
					Africa News – 22nd December 2008.

Go East, old man

The meltdown in Harare means that Beijing is no longer prepared to bail out President
Robert Mugabe - diplomatically or politically

Asia is responding to President Robert Mugabe's calls for solidarity in the time of
cholera - but not in the way that Harare had envisaged. The economic meltdown and
spread of cholera across Zimbabwe and into South Africa has emboldened China,
India and Japan - which have been promoting the virtues of Asia's non-intervention in
African politics - to make increasingly direct criticisms of the Zimbabwe African
National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) regime.

His former Asian allies have concluded that Mugabe's political exit - along with a
possible internal implosion - is looming, and they have no wish to be caught on the
wrong side of the argument. Asian diplomats are closely monitoring the growing
sentiment against the Mugabe regime and adjusting their statements accordingly. Yet
Asia will not join the loud condemnations of Mugabe by European and United States
politicians... The rest of this article is available FREE! Go get it from

Never mind the yuan, feel the ideology

Ideological rather than commercial motives led to the 2003 launch of Zimbabwe's
'Look East' policy, but as the country's economic position has deteriorated, Harare has
tried to woo Chinese capital and companies. In 2000, China established the China-
Africa Cooperation Forum with 44 African nations to promote free trade and
investment. But by then, trade with Zimbabwe was already in decline.

The power of the provinces

The devolution of decision-taking on trade and foreign relations allows regional
governments and companies to form their own ties with Africa

The provincial leaders who have driven China's economic boom and commercial
charge into Africa insist that history is on their side. Ancient China's Emperors -
powerful as they seemed - still had to negotiate their powers and authority with the
provincial barons of the day. It was only under Mao Zedong's communist rule that
Beijing seemed able - albeit temporarily - to impose its writ across China.
The waiting list

The diplomatic battles between China and Taiwan - often played out on African soil -
are on hold. There is no formal truce yet because China's strategists believe that they
are well ahead in the bigger game, the plan to recover Taiwan. There is some good
news for those African states that have stayed loyal to Taipei. Taiwan's President Ma
Ying-jeou has promised a new White Paper on foreign aid, one that would bring
Taiwan's foreign aid closer to Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development standards.

Crumbling cement

Worsening international economic conditions, tighter credit lines and Nigeria's weak
industrial policy have led to a sharp cutback in the US$3.3 billion cement
manufacturing deal between China's Sinoma International Engineering Company and
Nigerian tycoon Aliko Dangote's Dangote Group.

Tokyo's plan

Sadako Ogata, President of the newly reorganised Japan International Cooperation
Agency, says that the JICA is now the best funded national development agency in
the world. Her job, therefore, also makes her one of the most powerful aid chiefs in
the world.

Nkunda's anti-Beijing card

China's billion dollar contracts in Congo are at the centre of a new propaganda front
in rebel General Laurent Nkunda's war against President Joseph Kabila's government
in Kinshasa. Nkunda and his Rebel Conseil National pour la Défense du Peuple
(CNDP) have demanded the cancellation of all China contracts signed by Kinshasa as
one of their key conditions in talks with the United Nations Special Representative
and mediator, former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, and the Governor of
North Kivu Julien Paluku.

A happy and restful Christmas and then a peaceful 2009


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