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Will China‘s Scramble for North Korea and SE Asia or Africa Make U.S. Political Goals Possible? Printer friendly page Print This
By Dallas Darling
Submitted by Author
Wednesday, Jun 13, 2018

It didn’t take long for the mainstream press to control the narratives over the Singapore Summit. A narrative, that is, which is always within the narrowest spectrums of news and political debate. Whereas conservatives lauded the historical meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un as a resounding success and “See I told you so!” moment, liberals claimed it an absolute failure. In addition to making too many concessions, they accused the president of being “out of the know.”

But make no mistake. The real driving force behind the U.S. finally wanting to sit down with North Korea over the possible denuclearization of the peninsula is China’s scramble for North Korea’s labor and resources. It’s moreover a scramble over southeast Asia and Africa where the U.S. is trying play catch-up. After spending trillions of dollars on wasteful wars and military interventions, the U.S., to be sure, is finally waking up to a new global century of economic interconnected  in which China is in the lead.

China’s Infrastructures Remaking European-U.S. Colonial Borders
For almost two decades, China has built bridgeheads into North Korea and a new Pax East Asiana and Pax Africana. Along with being the greatest force evolving in those regions, they’ve overtaken the U.S. and Europe when it comes to capital investments and building vital supply chains like electric grids, pipelines, and railways. By paving over artificially imposed European-U.S. colonial borders, China’s even bringing more stability with sturdy infrastructures that reach deep into heartland of Asia and Africa.

China has, for instance, already built connective corridors, electric networks, and has laid fiber optic cables throughout North Korea. Known as the Iron-Silk Road, it’s also established numerous ventures with Leader Kim ranging from mining and manufacturing to building roads and work exchanges. The same is occurring with other southeast Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand’s Kra Canal. In other words, China is the business of conquering others through economic incentives instead of war.

The Kra Canal is actually just one of many master plans to secure Beijing’s interests between the Pacific and Indian Oceans-which is not only the underbelly of southeast Asia but leads to Africa. Unlike costly military interventions, it’s a way to employ a nation’s ever increasing reserve of workers. One of many other capital ventures across southeast Asia, China also plans to forge infrastructure projects and financial relationships while buying the world “per se” in exchange for natural resource.

Stable Infrastructures Vs. Destabilizing Wars
The scramble for wealth and resources stretches moreover to Africa-as stated earlier. Different from the U.S.’s overly militarized AFRICOM lily pads, China is banking on functional infrastructures with political nation building and physical state building. Not only has China built a nearly two-thousand-kilometer railway linking Dar is Salaam on Tanzania’s Ocean coast to landlocked Zambia, but it’s now financing and building Sudan’s Merowe Dam.(1) Economic security is indeed China’s new lifeline.

So too is China’s $50 billion Pan-African Development Fund. In fact, it’s more regional rather than national.(2) Not only are functional railways, pipelines, and power grids are consequently making their way through the landlocked countries of Zambia, Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda to the Indian Ocean, but China envisions a railroad from Cairo to Cape Town, something that the imperialist Cecil Rhodes and British Empire could only dream about.

China’s goal to bring about a genuine Africa for Africans-a Pax Africana, is also a cure to “bad geography.”(3) But it comes with a price, of course. With good infrastructure and good and stable institutions, China plans to transport African resources from the interior towards the ports that dot the eastern coast along the Indian Ocean. Theses resources will eventually make their way across the Indian Ocean to China and a rising Pax Asiana-with China being the middle man.

China’s Connectivity Makes Western Goals Possible
Putting aside for a moment a culture where many just watched and then lived the conservative and liberal narratives of someone else’s story, let’s hope and pray the inroads that were made during the Singapore Summit are lasting. Let’s also hope the promises to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, or end U.S.-South Korean war games, will occur. Above all, perhaps North Korea will improve its human rights record-including that of the rest of the world.

In the meantime, and as China scrambles over North Korea and southeast Asia and Africa, China is apparently the newest mercantilist in town. It not only wants supply chains but “control” of supply chains. As more resources come together and it graduates to senior supplier, not to mention demanding good governance in the Communistic and Confucian tradition, Chinese connectivity may even make Western political goals possible, including denuclearizing North Korea.

Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas’ writings at and

(1) Khanna, Parag. Connectography: Mapping The Future of Global Civilization  New York, New York: Random House, 2018., p. 95.
(2) Ibid., p. 97.
(3) Ibid., p. 96.

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