China's Pursuit of Africa's Natural Resources, (CSL Issue Paper, Volume 1-09, June 2009)
ARMY WAR COLL CARLISLE BARRACKS PA CENTER FOR STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP
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Africa is a vast continent with diverse geographic patterns and a relatively limited population. The resource base of Africa is enormous, with powerful rivers, world leading concentrations of strategic minerals, and important petroleum and uranium deposits. Nevertheless, it is comprised mainly of developing states, with limited capacity and infrastructure. Western development strategies have failed miserably in Africa, falling victim to Cold War politics, cultural differences and Africas colonial heritage. Long a friend of Africa in its self-declared role as leader of the developing world, China is in the midst of a resurgent African initiative based on a politics free development model aimed at securing access to Africas resource supplies. This chapter examines Chinas African strategy, offers an assessment of its implications for United States U.S. national security, and suggests a proactive, interest based approach for dealing with this phenomenon. The strategic landscape of Africa is defined by its geography. Africas topography ranges from 5800 meter about 19,000 feet volcanic peaks with year-round ice fields to scorching deserts that limit settlement and commercial transportation, to brutally hot and humid river valleys teaming with malaria and other waterborne diseases, to resource rich coastlines swept by cold and nutrient rich currents. Within this enormous continent exist large numbers of social and ethnic groups characterized by unique cultural values and languages. The cultural geography of the continent has, like the sand dunes of the Sahara, been swept by waves of cultural penetration-from Arab slave traders bringing the Muslim religion, to Western colonial exploitation that bifurcated nations and clans, and through the establishment of artificial political borders. This has generated a backwash of African socialism.
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