According to the consulting company McKinsey, there are 10,000 Chinese companies operating on the continent of Africa today. The huge investments of China and great earned amounts have led other countries, especially India, to follow the steps of China. And China is changing the nature of ties, increasingly shifting economic contacts to political and military ones. If talking about the military interests, other countries such as Turkey and Russia, are trying to follow this path also. Is this the new colonization of Africa?
According to the University of Denver, more than 320 embassies or consulates were opened in Africa between 2010 and 2016. Turkey has set up 26 diplomatic missions on the continent. Last year, India announced its plans to open 18 new embassies in different African countries. Foreign leaders are contributing to the diplomatic effort. This year, Russian President Vladimir Putin is planning the first Russia-Africa summit, similar to the annual Africa-China Cooperation Forum (FOCAC). Last year, this forum that was opened by President Xi Jinping, brought together more African leaders than the annual UN General Assembly convention. Similar meetings are also being held in Japan and the United Kingdom in the coming months.
If African politicians do not visit the main leaders of the world, then those foreign leaders are going to Africa. During the past ten years, the most important Chinese state officers have visited Africa 79 times. Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has traveled to African countries more than 30 times since 2008. The most popular directions to him were the sub-Saharan countries of Africa. After becoming President of France, Emmanuel Macron has visited the continent nine times since 2017, and the leader of India Narendra Modi has visited eight African countries.
In addition to diplomatic connections, the military interests of other countries are growing also. Africa is involved in the process of competition between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) against Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. In 2017, Turkey established the largest military base abroad in Somalia, and it is the first extremely powerful military base in Africa. The attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE were organized from positions in Africa. In addition, Saudi Arabia is recruiting cheap troops from Sudan. Saudi Arabia is believed to want to set up a base in Djibouti, and the UAE should open a military base in neighboring Somaliland.
The military influence of China is not limited to its base in Djibouti. Last year, the Chinese Army held exercises in Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, and Nigeria. In pop Chinese culture, Africa is glorified as an arena for courageous work. In 2017, the movie Wolf Warrior 2 about how Chinese special forces rescue doctors in Africa made new records in cinemas. The TV series Battalion of Peacekeepers raises the participation of China in peacekeeping missions. Of the five permanent members of the Security Council, China has the largest number of UN peacekeepers. The most of them are working in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, South Sudan, and Sudan. In the shadow of peacekeeping, there is a large-scale arms trade. There is no other country in sub-Saharan Africa that sells as many weapons as China. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, China imported 27% of the arms in the region during the period of 2013-2017.