China Takes the Lead in Africa

Sometimes big geopolitical news gets tucked away in a mere clause. We can see this phenomenon in, for example, a recent AFP story on the Nigerian terror-kidnaping: “World powers, including the United States and China, have joined in the search for the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram Islamists.”

It’s not really news that the US is involved in the search for those unfortunate girls. (It’s also not news that the Obama administration dithered for years in declaring Boko Haram to be a terrorist group, nor is it news that the most significant American action to date has been Michelle Obama’s holding up a sign declaring “#BringBackOurGirls.”)

No, the big news is that China is involved at all. As the AFP story noted, “China promised to supply ‘any useful information acquired by its satellites and intelligence services.’” Such a commitment might not seem like that big a deal, but, actually, it is.

In publicly committing to help the Nigerian government against the terrorists, China is choosing up sides – not only in a civil war within Nigeria, but also in the larger war against transnational Muslim terror. Yes, Boko Haram is one of the many terrorist groups that depend on financing from Al Qaida sympathizers in the Middle East. (Yes, we’re looking at you, Saudi Arabia! and Pakistan!)

As China has developed and expanded over the past few decades, its policy has been extreme circumspection – a resolute determination not to get involved in regional conflicts. In Africa, for example, the Chinese were happy to come into a country, cultivate (cough, cough) the local leadership, acquire the right to extract minerals or grow food – and that was it. China wasn’t interested in reforming local governments, or in improving local conditions, beyond what the host government might agree to. And the Chinese certainly didn’t want to be involved in the conflicts that have raged between Christians and Muslims along Africa’s Tenth Parallel.

Critics said that Chinese policy was amoral, even ruthless, in its single-minded focus on raw material. But it worked for them: China gained steady access to the resources it needed.

Yet now, interestingly enough, China has put its chips down in a struggle with international implications. It has sided with Nigerian Christians against Nigerian Muslims.

Moreover, China’s ability to help Nigeria is indeed considerable. It has satellite resources, to be sure, but it’s possible, even likely, that the Chinese have a stronger on-the-ground presence in Nigeria than the US. Why? It’s because the Chinese are expanding their presence in Nigeria, seeking out its oil – even as US companies, fearful of American prosecution, are retreating. China, you see, is not burdened by the prosecutorial zealotry of the US Department of Justice, which is currently seeking, everywhere, to enforce the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Note to Uncle Sam: The FCPA may sound like a good thing in theory, but in the real world, it is simply a law designed to snuff out American economic activity in corruption-heavy places such as Nigeria. As they say, when in Lagos, do as the Lagosians do.

To put the matter another way, if we want Nigeria – and other similar countries – to fall into the Beijing axis, we don’t have to do a thing; we can just leave our current law-enforcement-prosecution regime in place.

So there’s bad news and good news here:

The bad news is that the Chinese are eclipsing our power in Africa, as well as in much of the Third World.

The good news, though, is that China is now confronting some of the responsibilities that we have borne since World War Two. Yes, sometimes being the world’s policeman is unavoidable. Today, at least sometimes, the Chinese must choose: Are they on the side of education and civilization, or not?

In this instance, as we have seen, the Chinese have sided with the good guys – or at least the better guys.

In fact, a positive pattern seems to be emerging: China is starting to see the strategic value in combating global terror. A while back, here at Breitbart News, an astute observer noted that media mogul Rupert Murdoch was offering some pretty good advice: The US and China ought to be working together to solve the mystery of Malaysian Air Flight #370 and, more broadly, ought to work together jointly to fight jihadi terrorists. And that, happily, is starting to happen.

Indeed, if the Chinese could be brought to our side in the Global War on Terror, it would probably be worth it to let them have free rein in Africa.

Now we just need to make sure that the American government stays firmly in opposition to Muslim terror.


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