China’s Investment in Demining Africa

There is a lot of hand-wringing in the international community about the Chinese involvement in Africa.  To be sure, China’s investments often appear to be very self-serving, especially the oil and mineral extraction activities.  But China has also learned the important lesson of soft power and has made investments that, unlike the oil wells, roads and gifts to leaders, don’t have an immediate return.  China has paid for the building of many hospitals in Africa, sent its doctors to treat malaria patients across the continent and offered Chinese language instruction to Africans.  From a glamor perspective, the Chinese have also built or re-furbished a spectacular number of football stadiums and not just those used for international tournaments, along with opera houses and other cultural venues.  But even more important from my particular point of view: the Chinese have provided a lot of assistance for mine clearance.

Chinese foreign aid is conditioned on eight principles, two of which (“China provides quality equipment and materials manufactured in China at international market prices” and “China will help recipient countries master the techniques of any technical assistance”) apply to demining (The Guardian).  The result has been gifts of demining equipment and training sessions for deminers to landmine-affected countries in Africa.  From 2000 to 2011, according to the AidData project, China provided some US $2 million in demining equipment to Angola (AidData), Eritrea (AidData), Ethiopia (AidData) and Mozambique (AidData).  On its own and through the United Nations Mine Action Service, China has provided demining training to over 100 deminers from Eritrea (AidData), Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda (AidData), Chad, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau (AidData), Sudan and South Sudan (AidData).  Not included in the AidData figures were donations of mine detectors and equipment to Egypt and a demining team from China that participated in the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (The Monitor).

The amount of mine action assistance that China provides is far below that of the United States, Norway and many others, but it is not insignificant either.  In many ways, China’s demining assistance mirrors the mine action assistance of another entity whose presence in Africa raises eyebrows: the United States’s Africa Command (AFRICOM).

Michael P. Moore

May 2, 2013


4 Comments on “China’s Investment in Demining Africa”

  1. Mike Kendellen says:

    The other odd thing about China’s support to mine action is that hardly anyone in the countries mentioned above are aware of China being involved in mine action other than Angola where so-called development mine clearance through Angolan commercial companies, the army and the national institute, INAD, is occurring based on Angola trading future oil for a billion dollars or so of development assistance to re-build roads and install electricity and fiber optic cables throughout the country. Unfortunately, despite spending about $45 million a year on such development clearance and verification it is contributing very little to Angola meeting its Article 5 Mine Ban Treaty obligations. Further, all this development clearance and verification has been recorded in a way not compatible with IMSMA, the international standard for reporting, although this problem is not with China.

    Additionally, in a brochure made available at the Intersessional Meetings last week in Geneva China highlighted more than a decade of training in 12 countries without naming a single one that benefited with the exception of Sudan. China could do more in mine action by funding humanitarian mine action in every country in Africa and elsewhere where they are heavily invested in development. Mine clearance for verification purposes and liability protection is not enough.

  2. Popeye says:

    Why don´t Chine shove their money up their asses and sign the Ottawa Landmine Treaty ?

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