You may have missed this in the news; just recently there were disturbances in China’s Xingjian province that resulted into deaths of about 10 people. Xingjian people are mostly Turkish speaking Muslims. Some of them also have separatist aspirations which puts them on a collision course with China which is very keen on unity (if Tibet, Taiwan and the Island tussles with Japan are anything to go by).
But there is another reason why Xingjian is going nowhere; it has an oil pipeline that supplies 15% of China’s oil needs from the Caspian Sea; and the dragon’s appetite for oil is immense given its recent stellar economic growth.
The dragon (China) entry into the energy (read oil) matrix has upset the equation for the eagle (the United States) and her cronies whose interest the seven sisters, (the world’s leading petroleum firms- Exxon, Texaco, BP, Shell, Mobil, Chevron, and Gulf) represents. As we saw last week, the cartel they formed succeeded in dominating the world by controlling its energy needs.
Russia (the bear) has been in the hunt for oil both as a major supplier of oil and gas and a consumer of the same. Caspian Sea has been among its hunting grounds; Indeed the Caspian Sea best represents the power match between the world powers; in the battle for resources.
Nonetheless, the increasing competition for resources has brought with it a re-focus on Africa. This begs the question, what preparations have we or can put in place to counter this focus.
Two things; we must start with Socrates in mind; that man is selfish by nature. That everybody loves themselves first before they love us (if they ever love us). We must thus treat aid and handouts with second thoughts. As Mwalimu Julius Nyerere would put it; if someone is so benevolent to you, ask yourself why this is so.
The dose of suspicion is not due to cynicism. We are just a generation away from colonialism and are still dealing with its related neo-colonialist ‘follow-up ideology’ and active. That colonialism was all about a scramble for Africa’s resources is not in doubt. It could have come clothed in fancy clothes like Christianity, civilization, modernization, assimilation but the focus was on our resources.
This focus has not changed. It is propagated though ‘illusions of independence’. And dependency encouraged by ‘economic cooperation and aid’ which keeps the target countries conditioned and pliable to manipulation. Sad as it is this is the best case scenario.
The other scenarios are all too familiar. Have you ever wondered why a lot of resource-rich third world countries are forever in turmoil? The reasons for the turmoil are neither here nor there.
The competition for oil and resources is all around, from Khartoum to Caspian Sea. There’s more competition with the emerging economies in need of resources.
Choice of one ‘suitor’ over the other works only in the short run. The smarter thing is to strengthen our capacity to exploit the resources ourselves and/or to add their value.
Encouraging domestic and regional consumption of the resources, whilst not seemingly profitable in the short run, is good in the long run. This is because this builds economic stability. Our neighbours too tend to be at the same level with us and thus fair trade is more likely (As Nyerere says, you don’t put a lightweight boxer in a ring with a heavyweight and expect a fair bout).
A rethink around the ‘resource question’ is also required. It is common to have people from neighboring countries talk about how rich their countries are. That is because they consider (as most of us do) wealth in terms of natural resources. It raises the paradox of a rich country with poor citizens and makes you wonder what a country is. The most valuable resource any country has is its people. With this in mind we are bound to act totally differently.
The way forward must involve focusing on the citizens through unity of purpose, enhancing their economic capacity to create own market through education, savings and investment.
One of the most important things that we must avoid to succeed is corruption. The seven sisters have succeeded in manipulating third world governments into signing away their birth rights for a pittance due to this.
We, the ordinary citizens, jointly and/or separately bear the biggest responsibility here. What should we do in our dealings with the bear, the dragon, the eagle and those of that ilk?