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[Op-Ed] Al Qaeda and Chinafrica

Posted July. 16, 2009 08:28,   


“Chinafrica (a combination of the terms China and Africa)” is a term referring to the Middle Kingdom’s inroads into the Dark Continent. China and Africa have developed close relations to the degree that the two terms can be integrated, as China has sought from Africa since the mid-1990s natural resources such as oil and minerals. Bilateral trade volume has soared from 10 billion dollars in 2000 to 55 billion dollars in 2006, and is expected to exceed 100 billion dollars next year. Their close ties have gradually outpaced “Francafrica,” or France and Africa.

China’s seemingly unstoppable push into Africa does face a challenge, however. Hong Kong media said Monday that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, part of the international terrorist network in Algeria, ordered an attack on Chinese people and operations in northern Africa. The terrorist group declared retaliation against Beijing on behalf of the Uighurs, most of whom are Muslims. Terrorists attacked Algerian policemen who were guarding Chinese engineers at a highway construction site three weeks ago and killed 24 Algerian guards.

The Chinese government is in panic because construction projects and 50,000 Chinese in Algeria could be hit by terrorist attacks. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday, “There was no massacre over the course of the crackdown on protests in Urumqi. If Islamic countries know the truth, they will support China’s measures.” Though Beijing made an exceptionally quick response, it seems difficult to control Muslim protesters, who are urging a holy war against China in Islamic countries.

China has been outstanding in currying favor with African leaders. Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo told visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao in Lagos in April 2006, “We hope China can rule the world. We want to be right behind you then.” It remains to be seen whether China can overcome the crisis by persuading Al Qaeda just as it did African leaders.

Editorial Writer Bhang Hyeong-nam (hnbhang@donga.com)