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Will China shift resources from Africa to Russia now?

By XN Iraki | September 18th 2018
China and Russia trade relations [Courtesy]


Kenyans have become more inside looking despite globalization, the Internet and social media. They are too engrossed on family issues, county and national issues as well as personal issues.


The inside looking is reflected by online discussion topics and on the streets.

We are excited by sociology-psychological matters which arouse our emotions more.

Check the trending topics online. A Chinese youngster accused of ranting racist remarks attracts more attention than the exponential growth of patents in China. We are excited by who is divorcing who, or who is seeing who - even by someone’s choice of baby name.

Unless it’s about Chinese debt, we are unexcited by global issues. One took place this week.

It was summit between China and Russia, the leading powers in the East. The presidents of the two leading nations met behind the background of war games, perfect background music for the two powers.

Own pies

They were shown cooking their own pies in a kitchen in Vladivostok, in the Far East.

We might not notice that, too engrossed in our own issues ranging from fighting over Mau Forest to speculating on the next arrest over corruption.

To some, what they will eat or if they can afford rent at the end of the month.

Yet what happens far way with or without our attention still affects us. The geopolitical and economic centres of gravity are shifting east. I think we got that one right time.

This summit might be the clearest indicator of that shift.

It seems we are not the only country flirting with China.

Russia has joined. After sanctions from the West, it became easy for Russia to face East (sorry South for them).

And why not? Russia is smaller than China economically and its population is declining.

They are neighbours and have common ideological past - communism. After the end of the Cold War, Russia quickly embraced western capitalism with lots of western advisers playing a big roll.

The fast embracing of western system without its ideological underlining spawned corruption. China was cautious and reaped big.

Few want to admit that Chinese model worked and we are all feeling it. When the old Soviet Union ended in early 1990s, none of the 15 republics took the mantle of leadership.

Russia was the biggest of the republics but could not match China which was already growing fast. The announcement that the two countries will use more local currency might be interpreted to mean less use of the dollar as the reserve currency.

But its more than that.

The two countries trade a lot. They share borders and have enjoyed relative peace.

Russians and Chinese have no history of fighting or colonizing each other. Their deepening unity will rattle the West, read Europe and the US, who often agree on most global issues.

Remember both China and Russia are nuclear powers.

That is why the Russian war games with China watching is not armless entertainment. The two nations closer diplomatic and economic ties will mean a counter weight to the West.

The West might not shout loudly lest they drive Russia into Chinese hands with sanctions.

The recent tariffs against Chinese imports by the US means the two Far East nations share some suffering from the same source. We often make friends when in problems.

Recall how you got your best friend including your wife? Probably in adversity.

The rising confidence for the nations, particularly might be from unlikely source, the Middle East where the Syria civil war is almost over with pro-Russian side winning.

What of us? Are we just supposed to watch? Could the resources China be channeling to Africa now shift to Russia, which has lots of natural resources and nearer home?

Might one belt and one road initiative get another fast lane to Russia? Or could this relationship mean Russia will join China in Africa, where she has been mostly absent?

When did the last batch of Kenyans leave to study in Russia? Is it cool to go there? Will the two nations form an economic block that will grow fast and drag the rest of the economy along? Are we about to get a new engine of global economy?

May be, it’s time we put more attention to the East and a bit of North East. We can even stretch our imaginations.

The global warming, if unchecked, will unfreeze most of the northern Russia and Arctic sea - making it possible to sail to Western Europe via northern Russia instead of Indian ocean.

That will mean less traffic in Indian Ocean which ‘hugs’ Africa, and less economic fortunes.

It seems our fascination with the East did not start with the three wise men in the Bible, it has just begun.

Are ready or we shall wake up when the horse has bolted?




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