December 27, 2010
By Aloysius AGENDIA
In a recent WikiLeaks cable of the US Embassy in Cameroon revealed on December 08, 2010, the former US Ambassador Cameroon, H E. Janet Elisabeth Garvey expresses worries over increasing Chinese influence in Cameroon and the difficulties the “west” can face with increased Chinese presence in the country.
The cable dating February 18, 2010 and titled “China’s growing presence in Cameroon” also discloses that the ruling Chinese People Communist Party has strengthened its relations with the ruling Cameroon People Democratic Movement CPDM after the former gave some computer equipment to the latter.
The cables details the Sino-Cameroon business relations and reveals that while Chinese exports to Cameroon in the first three quarters of 2009 totalled an overwhelming US916 million dollars, it imports from Cameroon were just a meagre US5.9 million dollars.
However, the US diplomat goes ahead to list the areas of cooperation especially in the domain of infrastructure like the construction of hydro power supplies, roads, hospitals, sporting centre and also loan concessions which China has offered Cameroon.
She equally goes ahead to disclose that the Chinese government do
provide military training and
equipment to the Cameroon government. The US the West in particular
is certainly worried about
the Chinese growing influence in Cameroon that is why she asserts that
“we and other major donors
see no real opportunities for cooperation.” , the ambassador also adds, “other donor
embassies also see
little room for cooperation with the Chinese. The recently departed EU Chief of
Mission privately discouraged engaging the Chinese as they were not “like-minded.”
The document reveals.
Perhaps, it is in this direction that she notes in the cable that “in August, 2009 the
government [ Cameroon] awarded Chinese firm Sino Hydro Corporation Ltd. a $302 million contract
on a Build Own Operate basis to construct the Memve”ele hydroelectric dam in South Region.”
To add to the suspicion the document adds “ The project had previously been under negotiation
with British firm Globelecq”.
Cameroonians Express worries
Despite the seemingly high Chinese investment in Cameroon, the ambassador
Cameroonians were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the growing Chinese
and with the stiff competition Cameroonians petty business traders are facing with
She cites the areas of fishing in Limbe and Kribi where the Chinese have not only
indigenes but have again been fishing illegally. It was against that background that a
military patrol seized an illegal Chinese fishing trawler in the seas in Kribi. The cable
that President Paul Biya has express his dissatisfaction with growing Chinese global
an audience with the Chinese ambassador.
However, the same cable reveals that in 2002 the Biya and
the Chinese governments signed the “most favoured nation” trade agreements.
Such agreements certainly privileges China over certain investors and it can be argued
that it even
privileges Chinese over Cameroonians in certain areas.
According the US cable, “China sees Cameroon as a linchpin in the Central African region,
with a port
and economy of regional importance.”
The cable which the ambassador describes as “sensitive” was the Embassy’s response
request for information in advance of a U.S.-China sub-regional dialogue in March.”
Is there any element of truth with conspiracies that there is the need to overthrow either
through western democracy or by force, any African governments which seem to have