Last week I wrote a piece on the future of UK aid. There are a couple of follow up points, related to that article, that I would like to share, both of which have been in the newspapers and on television recently.
I realise that I did not give much coverage to the fact that the UK has officially stopped sending aid to China. I didn’t really cover this apparently momentous and crucial milestone because, I must confess, I couldn’t get hold of any material which detailed our history of aid with China. The truth is, that there hasn’t been an aid relationship for quite some time. But nevertheless, this prompted me to discuss the topic on everyone’s lips at the moment, what are the UK going to do about China? If there is anything that we can do at all, or whether we should?
Vague questions, so I apologise, but the fact is, China’s impending and total economic superiority is nigh. Experts predict that China will overtake the U.S economy by 2016. So whilst the American’s grab onto Chinese coat tails, we are left in a ditch without a coat on. And it’s raining.
So as China, vastly superior financially and soon to be kings of innovation, and controllers of the world’s natural minerals (now 1 million Chinese in Africa), and likely to embarrass the UK at this summer’s Olympics by wining every event (including the one’s WE invented), what is there left for Britain to do to recapture our ‘former glory’? The answer – we must forget about our former glory once and for all.
Surely the only sensible plan is to get on side with China and ‘make friends’. Will this mean relinquishing our disgust about their appalling human rights record? Hopefully not. Hope lies in that fact that Britain is in a relatively stable financial position compared to much of Europe, so must utilise this and get ahead of other states in international trading and diplomacy with China. Britain should proceed on the basis of this positive situation and formulate long and short term strategies to develop a profitable relationship. I am not in a position to suggest, at the moment, what these might be but they will probably involve learning Chinese.
China, no doubt, will feature in many a post to come which will allow for a more detailed analysis and scrutiny of UK foreign policy as, and as it must do, China becomes focal to a great chunk of all UK foreign policy.
This week the Guardian wrote an article about the monumental rise of Mozambique.
If you read my last post, Mozambique was named as a country that was to continue receiving UK beyond 2015. This may not have been the most shocking revelation, however a recent article by the Guardian makes it very interesting – another sure-fire example (like Nigeria) of how aid is an integral aspect of foreign policy to maintain relations with an eye on, perhaps, more financial rather than humanitarian aims.
The former Portuguese colony and until fairly recently ravaged by Civil War, Mozambique had its first democratic elections as recently as 1994. But, as the Guardian has reported, Mozambique has hit the ‘jackpot’.
I would like to share this with you all because personally, it was rather quite surprising to hear about this country’s rapid development. Mozambique, as I’m sure most of you thoug
ht, was just another poor conflict ridden country in Eastern Africa. However, they are in a position which could see them become leading African players.
I will leave you to read the entire article, but here are a couple crucial points:
In the Rovuma basin, three times the amount of natural gas compared to the North Sea reserves has been discovered and it is soon to be the biggest producer of coal in the world. The gas alone is expected to earn the country $400 billion over the next 40 years, let alone the coal. The reserves of coal and gas are simply staggering which have the potential to change the country forever. As you can imagine, the country now has (or more likely has had for some time) the attention of International corporations queuing outside this small East African country’s doorstep.
The challenge, as alluded to in depth by the report, is whether the whole country, most of which is still poor, benefits from the rich reserves. Let’s hope it can be a real success story for all its people, not just a lucky few and not another Angolan, Congolese, Ugandan or Nigerian case where profiting from rich natural resources have not reached the greater portion of the population.
Now, having taken in that information, isn’t it interesting that Mozambique, the boomers of East Africa, are not a country to have faced the chop from the UK’s aid budget? Interesting, very interesting indeed, particularly when you read that Britain’s Cove Energy owns 8.5% of the Rovuma Basin reserves.