Local Media: ‘Nigerians Are Slaves in Their Country to Chinese Exploiters’

Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari looks on during the African Union summit at the palais des Congres in Niamey, on July 7, 2019. - Heads of state meet for an African Union (AU) two-day summit in Niger. (Photo by ISSOUF SANOGO / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images)
ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria’s This Day published an extensive, scathing report Sunday on Chinese colonialism in its economy, accusing the Communist Party of “labour casualization, tax evasion, customs duty under-payment, forgery and outright sabotage” and individual Chinese immigrants of irresponsibly impregnating young Nigerian woman and abandoning them.

“The reason Chinese corporations are in Africa is simple; to exploit the people and take their resources,” reporter Adedayo Adejobi wrote. “It’s the same thing European colonists did during mercantile times, except worse.”

China is investing billions into a variety of Chinese economies as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a plan to control the most important roads, ports, and railways in the world by building them through the use of predatory loans and then seizing the properties. China has already seized a major port in Sri Lanka and has begun construction of projects throughout Africa and the Middle East, exploiting weak economies.

The American State Department has repeatedly warned developing countries to stay away from Chinese “predatory loans,” but the governments of many African states – prominently Nigeria, South Africa, and Kenya – have chosen to take the fast loan money and greenlight the projects.

In Kenya, workers have repeatedly complained of being subjected to “apartheid” racism on the part of Chinese work supervisors. In September, authorities deported a Chinese businessman caught on tape referring to one of his workers, and President Uhuru Kenyatta, as a “monkey.” Chinese workers, acting on behalf of the communist regime, have also grossly overburdened the immigration system and illegally used tourism stays to work on Belt and Road projects in the country, taking the jobs Beijing promised away from Kenyan citizens.

Adejobi expressed concerns that business with China will create the same problems in Nigeria. He notes that, according to Chinese numbers, the Communist Party has already invested $20 billion in Africa through its shell companies (there are no corporations in China that act independently of the will of the Party).

“This humongous figure is traceable to over 160 Chinese firms operating in the country which also employed less than 200,000 Nigerians,” the author noted. “For every Chinese factory in the hinterlands of Nigeria, the Nigeria workforce is not usually more than seven percent, of which engage in the menial and lower rung of the ladder jobs.”

Employing mostly Chinese workers, who then reinvest their salaries paid by Chinese loans into the Chinese economy, rather than Nigerians is one of the many accusations Adejobi listed of ill business behavior by the companies in Nigeria. Add to this accusation, he wrote, “labour casualization, tax evasion, customs duty under-payment, forgery and outright sabotage.”

It starts with the existence of the companies, the article claimed. Citing the McKinsey consulting firm, Adejobi found that, “out of the 930 Chinese companies operating in Nigeria, only 317 are documented by the Chinese ministry of commerce.” That means the rest, more than half, are operating outside of the law.

Chinese mining companies, the report claimed, routinely violate laws prohibiting foreigners from mining small land plots. Chinese companies are building large factories and evicting locals, the report continues, and Nigerians working there “are being utilised for cheap labour while being exposed to hazardous work conditions and accumulating billions of dollars in debt.” Chinese men in Nigeria “impregnate young naïve Nigerian girls and run back to their countries without recourse to the children and women they have put in the family way.”

Adejobi cited one company in particular, Zhe Long Investment Limited, which he found evidence accusing of “false declaration, tax evasion, forgery, illegal immigration, concealment, and customs duty evasion.” Specifically, Zhe Long claims to dedicate itself to shipping key chemical materials for the manufacture of various goods. To avoid paying the requisite fees for shipping sensitive materials by allegedly mislabeling them as products under cheaper duties.

Adejobi wrote that he attempted to get answers by visiting Zhe Long’s headquarters in Nigeria, but found “a mushroom company running a shady business by stark illiterates who cannot engage in simple conversations.”

The company representatives reportedly curtly denied the allegations.

As for racism, Adejobi quoted a pharmaceutical executive named Thomas Liu as once publicly stating, “Nigeria has the most thieves in the world,” seemingly justifying Chinese businesses’ illegal behavior.

“With stakes worth billions of dollars in businesses ranging from agriculture to oil, gas, and construction, China’s Greek-gift economic assistance is increasing unemployment and worsening job creation in Nigeria,” Adejobi concluded. “It’s such a pathetic situation that Nigerians are slaves in their country to Chinese exploiters!”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed Chinese investments, like much of his peers on the continent. He has called Chinese investment in the Nigerian economy, Africa’s largest, as “vital” and promised “railway projects, power infrastructure, airports and numerous roads through Chinese financing.”

In Kenya, on the other side of the continent, China is further along in the takeover process. Kenya has taken billions in loans, largely for the construction of a coal power plant and the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), a project designed to provide easy transportation among several national capitals in the region, including those of Rwanda and Uganda. The SGR’s construction has resulted in a major international scandal as Kenyan workers revealed the Chinese forced them to use separate buses to get to construction sites, eat in different cafeterias, and overall not interact with the Chinese. The Chinese kept skilled Kenyans from skilled jobs and brought all the SGR’s instruction manuals with them in Chinese, meaning Kenya will forever need China’s help to repair or refurbish any part of the railway.

Kenyan publications such as the Standard revealed many of the “apartheid” claims and have demanded further transparency in the Belt and Road process. Joining them have been journalists in Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania, among others, who have expressed that their leaders are more concerned with bringing in quick cash than creating a self-sustaining economy.

China’s state propaganda outlets have been transparent as to the goal of BRI.

“In the future, BRI will be responsible for the majority of infrastructure projects worldwide,” the state-run Global Times newspaper declared last year. “By generating benefits for those involved, a higher level of fairness will bloom.”

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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