Monday, June 26, 2006

Controversial website to expose crime

South Africans are no strangers to crime, but even they are shocked by the recent spate of violence in their country.  One South African, mr. Neil Watson, has had enough.  He is the mastermind of a controversial website, entitled "Crime barometer of South Africa", which is due for launch on 4 July 2006. 

Mr. Watson intends to raise awareness of crime in South Africa, especially among potential tourists.  Despite some harsh criticism from government officials (some of which accused him of being unpatriotic) and several death threats, he is intent on fulfilling his plans for the website.

The website will contain cold, clinical information and statistics on crime in South Africa.  Watson has warned that it will contain some graphic crime-scene images and is not intended for sensitive viewers.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

China's Booming Energy Relations With Africa

By Wenran Jiang, Jamestown 21/6/06
Jun 22, 2006, 10:11

Africa, on the other hand, has been left behind in the global quest for industrial modernization, economic prosperity and political stability. Yet, into Africa the Chinese are coming. They are coming for trade, investment and joint ventures, and they are consuming all the energy, minerals and other raw materials that the continent can offer.

An Evolution of Traditional Sino-African Ties

Africa's importance to China is reflected by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's ongoing tour of Africa. According to China's Ministry of Commerce, the seven countries on his itinerary—Egypt, Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Angola, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda—have a combined trade volume of over US$20 billion with China, or 50.6 percent of total China-Africa trade last year. Only two months earlier, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited three other African states—Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya—following his trip to the United States and Saudi Arabia.

Such high-profile visits, a recurring practice over the past few years, have aroused speculation that Beijing's pursuit of great power status may include a new grand strategy regarding Africa. After all, top Chinese leaders have done the same extensive tours to Latin American countries since late 2004 when President Hu first visited Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Cuba. China's ties with African countries, however, can be traced back to the 1950s when newly emerging African states declared their independence. From the 1950s to 1970s, China developed close relations with many of these countries based primarily on shared ideological belief and political identity: anti-colonialism, national independence, economic self-reliance and Third World cooperation. Beijing provided substantial aid and other assistance to struggling African states in order to demonstrate that China was on the side of the Third World.

Things changed in the late 1970s. China's economic reforms gradually moved China away from its radical revolutionary worldview of the past. Beijing's open-door policy, primarily designed to attract foreign trade, investment and joint-venture opportunities from Western countries and to facilitate China's entry into the World Trade Organization, moved China much closer to a market economy where profits, not political agendas, drove most of the economic and trade activities. In this process, China's relations with African and other Third World countries have also evolved from anti-colonial brothers-in-arms to economic and trade partners based on market principles. Yet, many things have remained the same. Beijing continues to pay and train young African diplomats in the Chinese Foreign Ministry's prestigious Foreign Affairs University, a practice that has continued for many years; China continues to present itself as a member of the Third World; and since 1991, every Chinese foreign minister's first visit abroad each year has been to an African country. Beijing has even named 2006 the "Year of Africa," and it is getting ready to host a Sino-African summit toward the end of this year. Furthermore, according to Beijing's report to the People's Congress, most of China's foreign aid—totaling 7.5 billion yuan ($950 million) last year—has gone to more than 50 African countries. In fact, Wen claimed that China has offered Africa more than $44 billion in aid over the past 50 years to finance 900 infrastructure projects (AP, June 18). Meanwhile, all signs indicate that China-African relations are entering a new phase centered on energy and raw materials.

The New Focus on Energy

China's relentless pursuit of economic development turned the country into a net petroleum importer in 1993, and by the turn of the new century, its dependency on foreign oil had jumped to about 40 percent of its demand. Beijing's new target is to quadruple its economy again by 2020, as it did from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. To achieve this goal, however, China must rely even more on external energy supplies as the Middle Kingdom already burns through 6.3 million barrels of oil a day. Although still far behind the United States, which consumes some 20 million barrels a day, the International Energy Bureau projects that Chinese consumption will reach a daily level of 10 million barrels within the next two decades or so.

Thus, China's quest for energy and other resources has brought China to Africa with urgency. Chinese customs statistics reveal that from 2001 to 2005, China's trade with Africa increased 268 percent, slower only than the growth of China's trade with the Middle East in the same period (367 percent), but faster than China's trade growth with Latin America (238 percent), ASEAN (170 percent), European Union (184 percent) and North America (163 percent). In the first quarter of 2006, the Ministry of Commerce reported that China's trade with the seven countries on Premier Wen's current African touring list amounted to $6.56 billion dollars, a surge of 168.2 percent. It is not surprising, therefore, that in such a broad economic context, Africa has turned into a major energy supplier to China in recent years. Back in 2003, both President Hu and Premier Wen visited several oil-producing African states with Chinese energy company executives, and since then China has become involved in an increasing number of energy deals on the continent that bear a number of unique characteristics.

Energy Security with Chinese Characteristics

First, Beijing is willing to get into the "troubled zones" with bold investment and aid packages in exchange for energy. When Angola ended its 27-year civil war in 2002, few foreign countries and firms were willing to invest in the country. China, on the other hand, committed a $3 billion oil-backed credit line to rebuild the country's shattered infrastructure. Beijing also made Angola its largest foreign aid destination. Now, Angola is the second largest oil producer after Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa, producing 1.4 million barrels per day with one-third of its oil exports—13 percent of total Chinese imports—going to China. In the first four months of this year, Angola was also the largest supplier of crude to the Chinese market after Saudi Arabia (AFP, June 20). Similar arrangements have been made with Nigeria and other countries as well.

Second, Chinese energy companies are committing large amounts of funding and labor for exploration and development rights in resource-rich countries. Sudan is one of the earliest and largest overseas energy projects by China's major energy companies. Chinese operations in Sudan include investment, development, pipeline building and a large number of Chinese labor deployments. Today, China has $4 billion of investment in the country. The China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has a 40 percent controlling stake in Greater Nile Petroleum that dominates Sudan's oilfields. Last year, China purchased more than half of Sudan's oil exports, and earlier this year, China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) announced that it had bought a 45 percent stake in a Nigerian oil-and-gas field for $2.27 billion and also purchased 35 percent of an exploration license in the Niger Delta for $60 million. Chinese companies have made similar investments in Angola and other countries.

Third, Chinese energy companies enter into joint-ventures with national governments, state-controlled energy companies or individual enterprises in order to establish a long-term local presence. It appears that the Chinese companies are often willing to outbid their competitors in major contracts awarded by African governments because their concerns are not in short-term returns but rather in strategic positioning for the future.

Fourth, China does not take into consideration the particular concerns of the United States or other Western countries when selecting energy cooperation partners and has a different set of standards on how to advance political reform and human rights in Africa. Most notoriously, China has been willing to engage in energy deals with the Sudanese government despite the ongoing crisis in Darfur. Likewise, China has just reached an energy and mining deal worth $1.3 billion with Zimbabwe. In exchange for building three coal-fired thermal power stations, Zimbabwe is likely to repay the Chinese investment with its rich deposits of platinum, gold, coal nickel and diamonds (The Guardian, June 16).

A Model for Future Cooperation or a Return to the Past?

In the past few years, the demands from China and other developing economies for oil and natural gas have become the major factor, although not the only one, that has driven up world energy prices. Chinese energy companies' extensive activities in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Central Asia in search of oil and gas assets have created anxiety regarding the world's future supply of energy. Discussions of a new "great game"—a term traditionally associated with competition among major world powers for the control of Eurasian oil resources since the late nineteenth century—have become frequent among observers of energy security.

Today, Africa supplies China with nearly a third of its oil imports. Beijing's extensive engagement and its ascending status in Africa also raises important questions on the nature of China's involvement in the continent as well as Beijing's long-term objectives in the region. Critics charge that China has pursued mercantilist policies in the region for pure economic benefits without human rights or environmental concerns. Due to China's support, they argue, the Sudanese government has been able to continue its genocidal policy in the Darfur region, and the Mugabe regime has been able to survive and carry on its abuses of human rights in Zimbabwe.

Officially, Beijing rejects the criticism with two arguments. The first is China's trademark policy of non-interference in domestic affairs. As Premier Wen stated, "We believe that people in different regions and countries, including those in Africa, have their right and ability to handle their own issues" (South China Morning Post, June 19). The second is China's emphasis that its involvement in Africa is different from the colonialism of the past, and that an affluent China is now putting money back into the local African economy. As Chinese leaders like to say, it is a win-win situation.

With China speedily expanding its activities in Africa, international concerns over Chinese behavior are also deepening and calls for Beijing to be a more responsible world power are becoming stronger. There are also indications that Chinese policy makers, academics, NGOs and even enterprises are beginning to reflect upon China's role in Africa. Many African countries are benefiting from a "China boom," but they would be better served if Beijing were to take further steps in balancing between economic interests and the welfare of the African people. Only by doing so would China be able to demonstrate to the world that its arrival in Africa is indeed different from the old colonial powers.

*Original source

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

SA minister defends crime remark

South African Security Minister Charles Nqakula has defended a controversial remark in which he accused people of "whinging" about crime.

On Tuesday, Mr Nqakula reiterated that his remark had been directed at certain opposition MPs, and not the public.

"I was politicking - they were politicking. I would never say people who complain about crime should leave the country," he said.

South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime.

Mr Nqakula has been under pressure since the publication earlier this month of remarks in which he said people who complained about crime could leave the country.

"They can continue to whinge until they're blue in the face, they can continue to be as negative as they want to, or they can simply leave this country so that all of the peace-loving South Africans, good South African people who want to make this a successful country, continue with their work."

A day later Darryl Worth, an MP from the opposition Democratic Alliance, spoke of a "tsunami of crime" during a debate in parliament.


Mr Nqakula replied by saying that opposition members were only now belatedly seeing "the ugly face of crime".

"Apartheid so insulated them, that they did not see crime at all," he said, referring to the fact that most DA members are from the white minority that was privileged under apartheid.

"So they think therefore that our country is tottering under such a wave of crime that they refer to it as a tsunami."

Community Police Forums, as well as opposition groups, were among those who reacted with shock to what they saw as a cavalier attitude by the minister towards a serious crisis facing the country.

Sam Mangena, of a Community Police Forum in the Pretoria township of Mamelodi, told the Pretoria News newspaper that criminals, and not whingers, were the problem.

"They are the ones who are hurting our people. They should be the ones to leave the country. The perpetrators have to go away," said Mr Mangena.

Apparently trying to debunk the myth that only wealthy white people have cause to complain about crime, the Mail & Guardian newspaper ran a report by Hazel Makuzeni, a resident of Cape Town's poor Khayelitsha township, on how she was robbed at gunpoint while walking to the station on her way to work.

"A gun was pressed against my chest, hard, and I was ordered to hand over my cell phone and my backpack," Ms Makuzeni wrote.

"Then the two young men simply turned away and robbed another woman who was coming behind me. I heard her cries, but I couldn't do anything."

The response from the police, according to Ms Makuzeni's account, was: "Hayi sisi, [no, sister], these things happen."
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2006/06/21 13:25:07 GMT


De Lille aims verbal barrels at China

Donwald Pressly | Cape Town, South Africa   
21 June 2006 12:26

South African President Thabo Mbeki should take China "to task" over its weak human rights record at home and abroad, said opposition Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille.

She said on Wednesday -- coinciding with the official three-day visit of the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is meeting Mbeki at Tuynhuys in Cape Town on Wednesday -- that while Chinese investment in Africa has taken place at a time when many of the continent's countries have achieved record growth rates, there are costs to the relationship.

The types of African governments that were the first to do business with the Chinese were in most cases "the biggest violators of human rights" and were shunned by African democracies. She charged that China has blocked the punishment of Zimbabwe's government -- led by President Robert Mugabe -- for his so-called "clean-up" campaign, which deprived an estimated 700 000 people "of their homes or jobs, or both".

De Lille, who has led campaigns against government corruption in South Africa, including in the country's arms deal, said China has little respect for human rights at home and the idea of China having a strong foothold in Africa "represents a grave threat to the African renaissance and our vision of true upliftment of all our people".

She argued that China has repeatedly protected its African business partners against punishment by the United Nations. As a member of the Security Council it had "threatened to use its veto" to prevent sanctions against Sudan, "whose government has committed genocide in Darfur and continues to supply the Sudanese Government with arms".

De Lille said China had "propped up the murderous Liberian president Charles Taylor, which drew out that country's devastating civil war", while in Angola, where the government continues to persecute journalists and ignore the poor and democracy, the Chinese Government has handed over R2-billion worth of aid in exchange for oil rights.

"Sadly, because of his refusal to meet Tibet's Dalai Lama, who was kicked out of his homeland by the Chinese in a similar manner as to how our president's own family was exiled by the National Party, President Mbeki has already lost some of the culture of human rights that was so loved by Madiba [former South African President Nelson Mandela]," said De Lille.

"In a continent where wave upon wave of colonialism and neo-colonialism has devastated our beautiful cultures and natural environment, we can simply not afford to be subjugated by another colonial power," she said.

Mbeki should deal with the South African concerns over "the massive" trade surplus China enjoys "over us", said De Lille, noting that in 2005 South Africa imported over R18-billion in goods and exported only a little over R5,5-billion, which "needs to be corrected over the next few years".

"In just two years we have already lost over 25 000 jobs in the South African textile industry. Because our clothing imports from China are directly responsible for this, we need to fix a quota of imports at a maximum of 25%," said De Lille.

China 's violations of human rights at home and its business dealings with rogue African states "should be lambasted by the South African government, using the newly established Human Rights Council, of which China is a member, as the proper platform". -- I-Net Bridge

*Original source

Monday, June 12, 2006

China exploits Africa

Backgound information:

China's meddlesome history
Over the past few decades China has been actively involved in African conflicts and politics. The range of their activities includes the supply of arms and training to terrorists and militia during conflicts (such as the South African Border War), active manipulation of elections (provision of signal-jamming equipment and election T-shirts to Mugabe's Zanu-PF) and supporting nefarious regimes, especially that of Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

Worrysome trend
China's support of marxist militarists, autocrats and dictators seems to be motivated by more than their shared ideologies. After aiding them to take complete control of a country, China becomes their main trade-partners, thereby gaining mostly uncontested access to that country's mineral wealth and other valuable resources. Two such recent examples is that of South Africa (the ANC tripartite-alliance enjoys a two-thirds majority vote) and Zimbabwe (Mugabe's Zanu-PF has absolute power).

China, the worlds fastest growing economy, needs to sustain economic growth with the acquisition of minerals. Exploiting Africa seems to be a cheap-and-easy way of doing so.

Dire consequences

The consequences of China's growing stronghold over African countries is significant. The obvious is grossly incompetent, inhumane totalitarian regimes. The second is the expansion of China's political influence on world matters, which can be expected to advance even more if African countries manage to lay their hands on more seats in the UN. The wealth that China gains through the exploitation of African countries may also be applied to "buy" themselves more political power or to exploit more countries.

Zimbabwe signs China energy deal

China has signed a $1.3bn deal with Zimbabwe to help relieve an acute shortage of energy.

The Herald newspaper says Chinese companies will build
new coal mines and three thermal power stations in the Zambezi valley
on the Zambian border.

In exchange, Zimbabwe will provide China with chrome.
Zimbabwe's Vice President, Joyce Mujuru, attended the signing ceremony
in Beijing.

Zimbabwean industry suffers from hours of power cuts every day.

"Right now we are beginning to experience power
shortages in the country," the state-owned Herald newspaper quoted
Vice-President Mujuru as saying.

Zimbabwean officials and representatives of the China Machine-Building International Corporation (CMEC) signed the deal


President Robert Mugabe, who has been shunned by Western
countries in recent years, embarked last year on a policy of
strengthening ties with China.

Chinese companies are also to rebuild Zimbabwe's rail network and provide trains and buses.

Zimbabwe is suffering from shortages of food, fuel and
foreign currency. In April, inflation passed 1,000% per annum for the
first time.

President Robert Mugabe blames domestic and foreign
enemies for the problems, while his critics point to the collapse of
agricultural exports following a controversial land reform programme.

The country is struggling to pay civil servants and is
thought to owe money to neighbours such as South Africa and Mozambique
from whom it has been importing electricity and fuel.

*Original source (BBC)

See also: "China arms sales 'fuel conflicts'"