Africabeat template: Africabeat: Nigeria looks to China for military assistance

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Nigeria looks to China for military assistance

Nigerian newspaper Daily Sun reports that the Nigerian government is seeking military assistance from China, apparently having grown impatient of waiting for calls for US assistance to protect oil facilities from militants in the Niger Delta to be answered.

This is a prime example of one of the aspects of the China-Africa relationship that I find most interesting: how China's involvement on the continent might influence African governments' decisions by presenting alternatives to Western diplomacy.

In the case of the Sudan, China's involvement has meant the support of a regime complicit in genocide. And in Nigeria, it may mean arms getting into the wrong hands and being used against civilians.

Still, I can't help but think that given the history of every other major power on the continent, criticism of China's role as having an adverse effect on human rights is hypocritical. And so I pose the following questions (without myself having made up my mind about the answers): Isn't it in the DNA of every world power to pursue its self-interest? And if so, on balance what is better - an Africa negotiating with one world power pursuing its particular raison d'etat or with several?

For more see a roundup of China-Africa articles

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