Meanwhile, China Quietly Takes Over Zimbabwe

Tyler Durden's picture

While the developed world is focusing on the rapidly deteriorating developments in the Crimean, China, which has kept a very low profile on the Ukraine situation aside from the token diplomatic statement, is taking advantage of this latest distraction to do what it does best: quietly take over the global periphery while nobody is looking. 

Over two years ago we reported that none other than Zimbabwe - best known in recent history for banknotes with many zeros in them - was bashing the US currency, and had alligned itself with the Chinese Yuan. This culminated last month with the announcement by Zimbabwe’s central bank that it would accept the Chinese yuan and three other Asian currencies as legal tender as economic relations have improved in recent years. "Trade and investment ties between Zimbabwe, China, India, Japan and Australia have grown appreciably," said Charity Dhliwayo, acting governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Business Live reported then:

Exporters and the public can now open accounts in yuans, Australian dollars, Indian rupees and Japanese yen, Dhliwayo said. Zimbabwe abandoned its worthless currency in 2009.

 

It accepts the US dollar and the South African rand as the main legal tender. Their use has helped to stabilise the economy after world-record inflation threw it into a tailspin.

 

Independent economist Chris Mugaga said the introduction of the Asian currencies would not make a huge difference to Zimbabwe’s struggling economy.

 

"It is Zimbabwe’s Look East Policy, which has forced this, and nothing else," he said.

And now, as a result of the "Look East Policy", we learn that China has just achieved what every ascendent superpower in preparation for "gunboat diplomacy" mode needs: a key strategic airforce base. From the Zimbabwean.

China is planning to set up a modern high-tech military base in the diamond-rich Marange fields, says a German-based website, Telescope News.

 

The news of the agreement to set up the first Chinese military airbase in Africa comes amid increasing bilateral cooperation between Zimbabwe and China – notably in mining, agriculture and preferential trade. China is the only country exempted from the indigenisation laws which force all foreign investors to cede 51% of their shareholding to carefully selected indigenous Zimbabweans.

 

The airstrip at Marange has sophisticated radar
systems and ultra-modern facilities

 

The Marange story quoted unnamed military officials and a diplomat admitting knowledge of the plan to set up the base. Efforts to get a comment from the Zimbabwe Defence Forces were fruitless, as spokesperson Lt Col Alphios Makotore was consistently unavailable and did not respond to emails by the time of going to press.

 

The website speculated that China could be positioning itself for future “gunboat diplomacy” where its military presence would give it bargaining power against superpowers like the US. It would also be safeguarding its significant economic interests in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa.

 

Veil of secrecy

 

“Military officials in Zimbabwe said details of the airbase plan were sketchy and mostly classified due to the veil of secrecy around President Robert Mugabe’s relationship with China’s Red Army. A sizeable number of Chinese troops are reported to have their boots on the ground in the Marange diamond fields, which have since been cordoned off as a high level security zone,” said the publication.

 

It added that a senior Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer based in Harare confirmed that there were rumours of the impending establishment of the airstrip as a “follow up to a military treaty signed between China and Zimbabwe in July 2005”.

 

Telescope News has made sensational claims in recent weeks, among them that Defence Minister and Zanu (PF) Secretary for Legal Affairs, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was secretly anointed by the military to succeed President Robert Mugabe.

 

Key battleground

 

It quoted a former Asian diplomat deployed to Zimbabwe for almost a decade as saying: “Haven’t you heard that Africa is the battlefield of tomorrow, today? As such in terms of geo-politics Zimbabwe is already a key battleground, for various competing powers. During my stay there, we heard about many military agreements being signed between the two countries.”

 

Chinese companies are heavily involved in diamond mining, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Government. They are believed to have constructed the airstrip at Marange that many suspect is being used to clandestinely haul diamonds to unknown destinations. It has sophisticated radar systems and ultra-modern facilities.

At this point expect to see a prompt, and unexpected, escalation in hostilities in southern Africa, most likely due to latent ethnic conflict of some kind (and brought back to the surface with the help of a few CIA dollars), which in turn will be the justification for US drones to begin operations in proximity to Zimbabwe to keep up with China's encroaching take over of Africa, now from the south.

 

Perhaps most interesting is the finding that Zimbabwe's president-cum-dictator, Robert Mugabe, so widely despised by the west, is in fact on China's payroll:

Confidential Central Intelligence Organisation documents leaked last year suggested that China had played a central role in retaining President Robert Mugabe in the July 31 elections, indicating that high level military officers had worked closely with the local army in poll strategies while Beijing bankrolled Zanu (PF).

 

China is Zimbabwe’s biggest trading partner after South Africa and has strategic economic interests in many African countries to guarantee raw materials, job sources and markets for its huge population.

 

The new Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Lin Lin, recently said trade between the two countries last year exceeded the $1 billion mark. Yet Zimbabwe is only 26th on the list of China’s 58 biggest African trading partners.

 

The Asian country has supplied Zimbabwe with military hardware, including MIG jet fighters, tanks, armoured vehicles and rifles, since Independence.

In other words, while nobody was looking, China just took over one more nation without spilling a drop of blood. And now back to the regularly scheduled Crimean War part X.

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Stoploss's picture

Now would be a good time for the 18-22 year old boy's and girl's to start thinking about fitness.

Combat fitness.  My, what will the new draft cards look like?? Any pics?

Winston of Oceania's picture

That is the intention behind the wage and benefit cuts to the military. Soon we will fall short in recruitment and the draft will be reinstated. I give it two years tops.

IridiumRebel's picture

They could do a combo EBT/Draft card. 

Zadig's picture

The cards will only work at participating stores in Syria, Iran, Ukraine, etc.

Emergency Ward's picture

The draft will fit well with Obama's My Brother's Keeper program.....yeah we'll keep you, brother, two years forced servitude in Africa.......

Big Brother's picture

Remember the boys on the Malabar Front...

MeBizarro's picture

Wage and benefit cuts (not really cuts but that is another story) are driven by the increasing amount of pension and especially retiree health benefit costs which are soaking up the DOD budget in terms of personnel costs.  The real fiscal gift of Afghanistan/Iraq adventures is going to be the future medical and related costs to the veterans who come home with all kind permanent physical and mental disability. 

Yeah we didn't have historically high death totals in either war but the number of disabled vets coming home is going to bankrupt the VA and gradually eat up more and more of the DOD budget.  Smart Chinese military advisors know this and that the US military will resemeble the Russian one today - some modern aircraft (mainly fighters) and missiles but whose overwhelming surface naval fleet, aircraft, and armor are Soviet-grade vestiges that are 20+ years old.  

GeezerGeek's picture

No way that TPTB would reinstitute the draft. All those pesky ex-civilians whose loyalty lies with their friends and families and not with the elitists? Do you think TPTB wants a military that includes Occupy types? 

Personally, I've always felt that the draft should never have been terminated. I like the idea of a civilian-based army. I wish the TSA and DHS used draftees. The biggest problem I saw - and yes, I did receive my draft notice in 1969 - was that it was too easy for sons of the 'connected' to get out of serving. 

Schmuck Raker's picture

"The airstrip at Marange has sophisticated radar
systems and ultra-modern facilities"...
such as disappearing tarmac.

GeezerGeek's picture

Disappearing tarmac - to keep the Greens from complaining.

Superdude's picture

It looks like to me NATO holds these meetings, bragging about how they can save countries from bullies and aggression but say, "oh, you're not a member, if you were a member we could help you. Did you happen to know we're accepting new members? "

CheapBastard's picture

Can you imagine being a 5'2" 104 lb porcelian-skinned Chinese women assigned to ZimboLand?

Gavrikon's picture

Better there than in the far West of Russia.

Hulk's picture

Its not the first go round of this particular race mixing. I dated a "Blasian" once, and she was cute as hell...

nah's picture

china invades the world belt buckle for the next 1000 years as humanitarians bitchez!

Stoploss's picture

In the years before the final fall of Rome, their military was sucked out, to far away battles to completely occupy the roman armies, leaving the city with no protection, because the soldiers were gone fighting distractive battles. One invasion here, one there, and well, this time is not different..

TBT or not TBT's picture

Nuclear weapons are different from Greek fire. ICBMs and SLBMs are different from catapults.

SolarSystem1932's picture

Indeed it has improved immensely:

GPS:

-19.031415,32.589085

(Drop into google)

SolarSystem1932's picture

Maybe this is it

-18.987507,32.412064

 

Actually, what IS that?

SolarSystem1932's picture

These are power line right-of-ways, even thought they LOOK like abandoned run ways.

(Yes, still in Zimbabwe)

-18.859976,32.343879

Urban Redneck's picture

This what you're looking for?
-19.725123°, 32.425642°

SolarSystem1932's picture

Agreed that IS flyable, but not 1 mile long.

The picture shows much greener terraine and an intersecting road.

 

Urban Redneck's picture

But that assumes "the Zimbabwean" (who can't get a call back from the PR office of the Defense Ministry) uses a photograph of the actual airfield.

The Chinese military airfield hasn't been built yet(according to the same ill-connected paper), and one doesn't need a 1-mile landing strip to smuggle diamonds - that 1200m field will will do (and can actually handle large aircraft but without the civilian safety margins generally associated with a public airport.

“Military officials in Zimbabwe said details of the airbase plan were sketchy and mostly classified due to the veil of secrecy around President Robert Mugabe’s relationship with China’s Red Army. A sizeable number of Chinese troops are reported to have their boots on the ground in the Marange diamond fields, which have since been cordoned off as a high level security zone,” said the publication.

It added that a senior Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer based in Harare confirmed that there were rumours of the impending establishment of the airstrip as a “follow up to a military treaty signed between China and Zimbabwe in July 2005".

...

Chinese companies are heavily involved in diamond mining, in partnership with the Zimbabwe Government. They are believed to have constructed the airstrip at Marange that many suspect is being used to clandestinely haul diamonds to unknown destinations. It has sophisticated radar systems and ultra-modern facilities.

SolarSystem1932's picture

32.89829,-97.044818

 

Ha! Found it!  Very impressive.

I Drink Your Milkshake's picture

Looks to me like a shale oil field, but the pumpers are kinda close together.

The runway to the northeast is, or was, a military base. Grand Reef.

matrix2012's picture

That mining becomes a "problem" because a British company, African Consolidated Resources (ACR), claims its mining rights there!  Yet Mugabe denies such claim.

 

ACR's chief executive Andrew Cranswick said: "We are certain the majority of valuable stones from OUR sites have been and are being smuggled out of Zimbabwe."

Now you know why it's a "problem"!

 

Any one here can shed a light what's the real objective of this said certification organization, Kimberley Process Certification Scheme; who controls it?

The international diamond watchdog, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, has been urged to suspend Zimbabwe over the violence and allegations of continuing violance at the mines - a move which would make the trade in Zimbabwean diamonds illegal. Kimberley Process was set up to prevent "blood diamonds" from conflict zones entering the global gem trade.

autofixer's picture

Rare-Earth minerals?   

KickIce's picture

And with the way China's been printing Zimbabwe might not have to devalue their currency.

ChargingHandle's picture

As if other world leaders are not on the US payroll to help insure our interest and assets. China takes yet another page from the US authored book of world domination. 

spanish inquisition's picture

Africa can't manage it's own affairs and resources. This whole China diplomacy and business trading thing can't possibly work out. They will be begging the US to bomb and destabilize them again in no time.

riot-police's picture

True, but this is about china "managing" their affairs for them.

buzzsaw99's picture

Well it's a free-for-all
And I heard it said
You can bet your life
The stakes are high and so am I
It's in the air toni-i-ight

williambanzai7's picture

And has a luxury flat, a daughter and probably a fact bank account in Hong Kong.

nelsonmandella's picture

If you were a black african who would you do business with = 

white colonialists 

arab slave traders 

indian merchants 

chinese businessmen

thamnosma's picture

nah, I'd stick with my fellow corrupt black leaders....

Let them eat iPads's picture

Sarah Palin saw this coming - blames Obama.

thamnosma's picture

Mugabe is such scum.  The Chinese can have him.  They are siding with the wrong guy.  Anyway, Mugabe doesn't have much time left, riddled with disease and old.  Maybe the Chinese have made pacts with the next generation.

The map above is notable for the "grey" of Libya.  The Chinese had made numerous deals with the Libyans, including for light sweet crude.   I suppose that's why "we" had to "liberate" the country.

smacker's picture

I wonder how the Chinese will get along with Mugabe's Goon Squads. hhmmm

hangemhigh77's picture

Well our methods are much different, we have a HUGE military industrial complex that needs to survive and their business is bloodshed. Plus we have defense contractors who's executives make bigger Christmas bonuses if they can murder millions of people using their war products.  So we need to kill lots of people every year for money.  But we do it all in the name of "peace" and "helping people".

WhyWait's picture

The story of China's involvement with Africa is fascinating, but Robert Mugabe has been aligned with China since the days he was a leader of the insurgency in Southern Rhodesia.  There is no surprise here. 

China may be a fly in the ointment for its imperial rivals, bidding up resource costs, supplying economic support and military hardware to nations that will give its companies access and giving them tools to defend their soverignty and stand up to Imperial dictates.  

But China is so very far from being able to mount a military challenge to the Empire outside its own territorial waters that the tone of this story smells like fear-mongering. For example, China has no credible military answer to a closing of the Straits of Malacca.  None.

"thamnosma" commented on that big gray space on the map where Libya used to be. What was China able to do while the NATO countries dismembered and destroyed Libya, a country which had the highest per capita income in Africa, a potent military by African standards and economic, military and cultrual ties all across the African continent?  Nothing. All China could do was complain loudly at the UN.  Their considerable investments in Libya are just gone.    

So why are we seeing this posted here on ZH?

 

WhyWait's picture

"While the developed world is focusing on the rapidly deteriorating developments in the Crimean, ..."

  -  OMG!  Look over there!  The Chinese are Taking Over the World!  -

"... And now back to the regularly scheduled Crimean War part X."

decon's picture

Zims greatest loss will be their wildlife.  The Chinese will grind them up and sprinkle them on their peckers until the wildlife is all gone.

thamnosma's picture

Perceptive comment.  I hadn't thought about that.

akak's picture

Blobbing-up endangered animals to 'make strong' the diminutive chinaman pee-pee is part and package of eternal nature of traditional and consumptionalizing Chinese Citizenism fabled past and present.  Monolizing the erectionizing means in any way possible is the teeny tip of the mattering thing.

Better watch out, Kimba.

highwaytoserfdom's picture

Krugman economics on guns?  Chinese Yuan backed by gold?