Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Soft Power, Soft Headlines

Here's a quiet headline you could easily overlook but that actually speaks volumes on closer inspection: Chinese President to visit 8 African nations, taken from the People's Daily Online. Click through to the article and it gets even quieter, a mere two sentences about a tour of eight African countries by Chinese President Hu Jintao. On the surface, nothing very extraordinary.

Here's a quick glance, though, at the CIA Factbook entries on six of the countries he's visiting:

  • Sudan is an oil exporter, with proven reserves of 1.6 billion bbl. China buys 71% of the country's exported goods, and provides 20% of the $8.7 billion worth of goods the country imports each year.
  • Cameroon and Mozambique both have proven natural gas reserves in the area of 100 billion cu m (cubic meters).
  • Liberia was a major exporter of iron ore until its economy was disrupted by civil war.
  • Namibia is a major producer of uranium, tungsten and copper.
  • Zambia is a major exporter of copper.

Now take a look at this headline from the Washington Post: Views on U.S. Drop Sharply In Worldwide Opinion Poll, based mainly on the lingering fallout from the Iraq War. In other words, while we're losing blood, treasure and global goodwill to secure the massive oil reserves of the Persian Gulf, the Chinese are cozying up to second- and third-tier countries for their natural resources through savvy investments and diplomatic courtship. Soft power, maybe. But power nonetheless.

Posted by Judah in:  International Relations   

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