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WIKILEAKS: The West wary of Sino-Cameroon relations: Links between Communist Party and the ruling CPDM

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 
reiterates that
 Cameroonians were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the growing Chinese 
and with the stiff competition Cameroonians petty business traders are facing with
 the Chinese.  
She cites the areas of fishing in Limbe and Kribi where the Chinese have not only
 dominated the
 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
 also discloses 
that President Paul Biya has express his dissatisfaction with growing Chinese global 
presence during 
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 
“to reftel 
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

been moving away from total dependence  on western nations? That may be the subject of another Wikileaks revelation in the years to come. This is the link to the original cable.

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