While Nobody Was Paying Attention, Beijing Held Its Own ‘Berlin Conference’ To Carve Up Africa

China is following the exact same playbook that European Nations wrote at the Berlin Conference. And if Africa doesn’t wake up, the next century could be worse than the last.

For those unfamiliar, in 1885, 14 European nations gathered in Germany to carve up the African continent amongst themselves. What became known as the Berlin Conference ushered in a century of colonialism, exploitation, and the underdevelopment of Africa. Our Motherland was pillaged, plundered, and in most places, left for dead.

Africa is far from free today, but during the Black Power era of the 1960s – 80s, revolutionary and evolutionary change offered promise of an Africa that realized her full potential. Our leaders warned us to be vigilant against neocolonialism – a resurgence of the dominance of alien nations, not by direct political control (as in traditional colonialism), but by economic and cultural influence.

Our lack of vigilance against new threats that used the same tactics developed during the Berlin Conference was, according to our Great Ancestors, the biggest threat to the embryo of a sovereign Africa.

Enter The “Beijing Conference”

The warnings of our Ancestors have gone ignored, and while no one was paying attention, China held its own “Beijing Conference”. The only only non-Chinese institution invited to this conference? Goldman Sachs – which too has been quietly but very aggressively expanding in Africa.

As the map below from Stratfor.com shows, ever since 2010, when China pledged over $100 billion to develop commercial projects in Africa, the continent has now become de facto Chinese territory.

Because where the infrastructure spending has taken place, next follow strategic sovereign investments, and other modernization pathways, until gradually Africa is nothing but an annexed territory for Beijing, full to the brim with critical raw materials, resources and supplies.

Once the Beijing Conference concluded, China then began on-boarding African leaders. According to American geopolitical intelligence company Stratfor:

Back in late July, Beijing hosted the 5th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, during which China pledged up to $20 billion to African countries over the next three years. China has proposed or committed about $101 billion to commercial projects in Africa since 2010, some of which are under negotiation while others are currently under way. Together, construction and natural resource deals total approximately $90 billion, or about 90 percent of Chinese commercial activity in Africa since 2010.

While China has paid lip service to agricultural and small- and medium-sized business development in addition to the aforementioned projects, money speaks louder than words. China’s so-called investments are a clear indication that it sees Africa as a resource to be extracted rather than invested in.

Why African Nations Lack “Indigenous Engineering Capabilities”

An important piece of analysis from the above Stratfor report states the following:

 since many African countries lack the indigenous engineering capability to construct these large-scale projects or the capital to undertake them, African governments with limited resources welcome Chinese investments enthusiastically.

Little discussion is held concerning why Africa lacks indigenous capabilities. And the answer to the question is at the heart of why African nations should be doing the exact opposite of allowing outside conquerors investors from ‘helping out’.

We know from our Great Ancestor Dr. Walter Rodney that when Europeans invaded the African continent, they put an end to the development of new technology. It was one of the ways they intentionally underdeveloped Africa to prevent competition.

Walter Rodney And How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Instead, colonies were forced to use technologies and machinery that were produced in Europe. This led to technological arrest.

Over time, Africans forgot how to clothing by hand, and relied almost completely on European textiles. They forgot how to launch massive public works projects on their own, and instead subordinated themselves to white foremen and city planners. Without the means of production, African institutions, or access to higher education, African sciences, technologies, and innovations all came to a halt.

Dr. Walter Rodney writes:

…to be held back at one stage [of technological advancement] means that it is impossible to go on to a further stage. When a person was forced to leave school after only two years of primary school education…he is academically and intellectually less developed than someone who had the opportunity to be schooled right through to university level. What Africa experienced in the early centuries of trade was precisely a loss of development opportunity, and this is of the greatest importance. – How Europe Underdeveloped Africa page 105

As African nations began to fight for and gain their independence, European nations pulled out – leaving behind a population that neither had equipment of their own nor the knowledge to build it for themselves.

That meant that Sharecroppers who had previously been forced to use European tractors had to go back to farming hundreds of acres with hand held tools. And populations that were forced to rely on Belgian made trains were left stranded, or piled onto the dangerous and poorly maintained trains left behind.

What The Beijing Conference Means For African Workers

Stratfor’s analysis of the Beijing Conference revealed the following:

…These foreign investment projects are also a boon for Beijing, since China needs African resources to sustain its domestic economy, and the projects in Africa provide a destination for excess Chinese labor.

In other words, China has zero interest in providing jobs for Africans in the nations that it exploits. Money changes hands at the highest levels to give China the political influence it needs, and African workers are left on the sidelines.

For the few Africans who are employed by Chinese companies, they are reduced to the lowest positions of manual labor and operation.

China’s approach to using its own workers for management and engineering positions mirrors that of European colonialists. We know that during colonialism, Africans were denied access to education that would have taught them to build for themselves.

European companies saw Africans as nothing more than a source of manual labor, and paid them as little as possible for their labor. It was almost unheard of to see an African in a management, engineering, or strategic position – roles that were reserved for whites only.

Train drivers Elizabeth Wanjala (left) and Shalom Njeri (center) with their Chinese supervisor looking on.
All of the women drivers areformer Chinese communication students, and were trained in China.

China brings its own workers to Africa to operate its African based factories. China brings its own equipment into Africa to build its factories. And for public works projects, China lends nations money and pays bribes to officials to give China control over those projects when those loans default.

And while back then few noticed, in September of 2018, during a major conference with African leaders, China’s president Xi Jinping proposed an additional $60 billion in financing for Africa in the forms of assistance, investment and loans, the western media was quick to label the latest round of Chinese financing a “debt trap”, to which a top Chinese official responded at the time that Beijing is merely helping Africa develop, rejecting criticism it is loading African countries with unsustainable financial burdens.

How China Is Colonizing Africa Using Trade, Aid, and Debt-Trap Diplomacy

The moral of the story is clear: African nations that choose to use outside technology instead of building indigenous systems and methods are doing nothing more than perpetuating their own underdevelopment.

Wake up, Africa. The next 100 years could be just as bad – if not worse – than the last.

Written by Asad Malik

Asad is the Executive Officer of The Pan-African Alliance, and the Founder of United Black America.

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