China’s Naval Reach Grows

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Reuters reports that China’s Navy is making a port call to the West African country of Nigeria. The destroyer Nanning is leading the task force, with the frigate Sanya and the supply ship Weishanhu as part of the task force.

China’s relationship with Nigeria is centered on its oil industry. China’s lack of domestic oil reserves has been driving its foreign policy in the Middle East and Africa. Nigeria also benefits from Chinese imports for consumer goods. China has also been spreading its network of military bases, with presences in Djibouti and Pakistan to better control maritime traffic.

China’s help for Nigeria and other African countries has come at a cost. Rather than settle for payment in cash, Chinese investments have focused on controlling shares of ports and extracting industries in a bid to effectively own large parts of foreign economies.

In January, Nigeria opened a billion-dollar Chinese-built deep seaport in Lagos. The new Lekki deep sea port, one of the region’s biggest, is 75%-owned by state-owned China Harbour Engineering Co. and the Singapore-based Tolaram group.

Nigeria is the 6th most populous state in the world and the largest in Africa with over 215 million people. To compare, the United States is the 3rd most populous with 335 million. Nigeria’s economy lags in comparison to developed nations, ranking as the 27th richest country but 145th per capita.

Chinese investments in Africa have been described by Washington as threatening to US national security. China’s model of diplomacy eschews any mention of human rights or moral values, making it palatable to a wide variety of African regimes to do business with. In contrast, American influence on Africa is resented for focusing on lofty ideals of liberal values that contradict the traditional and religious culture present in much of Africa.


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