How China is Using Football in Africa


China is the world’s biggest country, populated
by 1.4 billion people. It also has the world’s second largest economy behind the United States,
with a national income in excess of $12 trillion and annual economic growth over the last 30
years often reaching double digits. This might seem remarkable to people who still
see China as a communist country, but Beijing prefers to characterise the country as being
‘socialist with Chinese characteristics’. Suffice to say, the state maintains a pervasive
role in ‘managing’ China’s economics, politics and society. But over the last thirty years, the Chinese
government has engaged in a reform programme that has enabled private enterprise to flourish.
The reforms have also sought to turn China outwards so that it trades more with the rest
of the world and builds influence across the globe. Yet as China has changed and grown, challenges
have emerged. An already large population has continued to grow placing huge strain
upon the country’s resources. Demand for infrastructure has risen dramatically, whilst
the consumption of resources such as oil and gas has also increased. However, the country’s economic reformation
Has recently, in relative terms, begun to stall, with growth now down to
around 6%). The Chinese government therefore worries about the future, especially how it
will meet the needs of its population whilst at the same time sustaining the country’s
economic growth. But one of the ways in which Bejing hopes
to tackle these issues is by building its sport industry, which it wants to become the
world’s biggest by 2025. Since 2015, the country’s government, businesses
and investors have therefore taken an active role in acquiring
overseas football assets. Several clubs have been procured, including
England’s Wolverhampton Wanderers, Southampton and West Bromwich Albion, Ado Den Haag in
the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic’s Slavia Prague. Chinese companies are also now leading sponsors
of FIFA and several big names have headed eastwards, former Newcastle United manager
Rafa Benitez being the most notable recent example. China views football as means to various ends;
from enhancing image and reputation through to building the nation’s brand and enabling
it to project soft power influence. And whilst many are familiar with the sums spent on domestic
football in the country, and the investment in European clubs, less is known about what
China is doing in Africa. The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (ACN) in Gabon
was the latest in a long line of tournaments into which the East Asian giant has significantly
invested. Gabon previously hosted the ACN in 2012, when
two new stadiums were constructed for the event (which was co-hosted with Equatorial
Guinea). One of Gabon’s two stadiums, in Libreville,
was funded and constructed by China. For 2017, two additional new stadiums were used (as
well as the existing stadium in Libreville and another in
Franceville). The two new venues, the Stade d’Oyem and the Stade de Port-Gentil, were
funded by China, and designed and constructed by the company Shanghai General Construction. It was hardly surprising therefore that ahead
of the tournament, Presidents Ali Bongo of Gabon and Xi Jinping
of China met one another in Beijing. The visit was marked by China’s announcement that
Gabon would become a comprehensive cooperation partner (raised from its status as a bilateral
partner). Tellingly, Xi asserted that China’s “willingness to deepen cooperation [would
be] based on mutual benefit.” Football, specifically the ACN, therefore
nicely connected the dots in a Gabonese-Chinese relationship that already saw the African
nation sending 14.2%of all its exports to its East Asian partner. Unsurprisingly, Gabon’s biggest export to
China is crude petroleum, although it also sells a large quantity of manganese ore, which
is widely used in iron and steel production. China’s game plan for 2019’s African Cup
of Nations was supposed to be the same. Cameroon was initially supposed to serve as tournament
host, which inevitably attracted the Chinese government’s interest. The West African
nation’s biggest export is crude petroleum and it rapidly became apparent that carbon
fuel deposits would again prompt China’s interest, with its investors quickly committing
to the funding and construction of key tournament infrastructure across Cameroon. However, late last year the country was stripped
of its right to host the tournament by the Confederation of African Football. Egypt stepped
in as a replacement host though, unfortunately for China
(and its strategy in Africa), the country is not a carbon fuel producer on the same
scale as others in Africa are. However, China’s use of football as a means to an end still
became evident at the tournament. Telecommunications giant Huawei quickly become
an event partner, which it utilised as a basis for the African rollout of its 5G network. This extended what is now a long history of
Chinese involvement in the tournament. In 2008, the country funded the renovation of
two of the stadiums used in Ghana’s hosting of the competition, and paid for the construction
of the others. Two years later, for the Angolan edition of AfCon, China financed and constructed
all four of the stadiums used. It shows a very obvious pattern, but also
details how football in Africa is serving as a bilateral diplomatic tool that is intended
to benefit all parties involved.

100 thoughts on “How China is Using Football in Africa

  1. What China does is pretends it’s a countries ally, they then invest in country X which seems really good at first, they throw money at projects in country X but ensure that every job created from the investment is carried out by a Chinese National, so the contract to build the road in country X would go to a Chinese company with Chinese workers, the projects are given at exorbitant interest rates which China knows is unsustainable for country X. Country X is then coerced into becoming part of the Chinese umbrella of power.

  2. Don't know about this. You guys and girls seem to forget the ethical side of all this. You paint a very positive picture and fail to show the other side. Bit dissapointed.

  3. So what's your point???? Don't try to get involved in Political propaganda of Europeans. I still love your research in football.

  4. Slightly shallow analysis compared to the ones we're used to. I'll still take it though, you don't gets stories like this anywhere else

  5. China isn’t communist. Its a parliamentary dictatorship with heavy control and the land of the workers is exploited by the government. Im not a fan of capitalism, but I’d rather be under it then under China anti communist system. China today is a example of Capitalism

  6. China today is currently at peace and not at war with any country, since our last major conflict in 1979. Instead of making war, China is building infrastructure like roads, railways, highways, bridges, tunnels, powerstations, dams, ports, airports, etc and investing in developing countries like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and also African countries like Nigeria, Kenya, Chad, Sudan, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, etc.

    Whereas the United States is warmonger being involved in Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghan War, Libyan War, Syrian War, Yemen War, etc, even in the 21st century. USA is bombing in those Middle Eastern countries and enacting regime change by cutting off their "heads" (Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, etc) and then installing their own US puppet governments in place.

  7. Making a deal with China is like making a deal with the devil they’ll give you what you want but in return they’ll take everything like the devil would take your soul

  8. Yes, exploit us, China. At least when you do colonize us, it's a mutual thing. The previous colonizers sucked dry all the minerals of the African continent, and are now chasing us out of their countries, saying we should go back where we're from.

    But We Gon' Be Alright.

  9. African countries like Ghana and Gabon have been ruled and exploited by France and UK and they were never seen as something more than a colony that Europeans are going to make money from. China now is coming not as a colonial power but as a co-operator and this is the reason why China is winning right now in Africa. African people have seen bad things under french, british, belgian, portugese and spanish rule and they don't see China as a ruler

  10. Commenters on this video should take heed of Wole Soyinka when he talks of the "oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it".

  11. China's investment has always been a mean to gain control and silence the voices they don't like, the cases of NBA and Blizzard are solid proofs of that.

  12. China have already invested massive money in other countries like Nigeria and Ghana, lending $ at rates they won't be able to pay back

  13. Worded as if they're doing charity work when they're just conducting business that'll benefit China. History repeats itself.

  14. fuck china’s government and their shitty ways. locking up muslims, disallowing citizens to fly if they don’t have a certain social credit value? it’s basically north korea without all the visiting restrictions

  15. A (non democratic,also authoritarian and human rights unrespectful) major power trying to extend its influence on the continent

  16. The white man has enslaved Africans for hundreds and hundreds of years. It's comical how people in the comments act as if China is destroying economies all over the world, when that's exactly what the western superpowers did. China's partners are not suffering and they're not angry at China for anything. Western people are brainwashed and detached from reality, it's actually funny to watch.

  17. African leaders and countries willingly ask for Chinese help. So its not colonialism, they're not forced, they're not tricked. They know the terms, the pros and cons. If they don't want chinese help and exploitation they can always deny it. And i am an African living in Africa.

  18. Do you foresee Chinese interests becoming involved in subsidizing major African club sides or will national team events continue to be their preferred avenue for generating positive pr in African?

  19. The white star in the AFCON symbol is located on the country that hosts the event, so it will be on Gabon for 2017 and on Egypt for 2019

  20. 0_o So African nations are trading their natural resources for football stadiums……SMH how about not hosting the tournament and trading their natural resources for hospitals, schools. roads, solar powered generators, water arrogation, pluming systems for the whole country.

  21. China: oppresses Hong Kong, Uygur people
    Also China: Hey look we bought Oscar for 60M

    It's disgusting how China is abusing football to cover up their authoritarian policies; build a positive image.

  22. At least the money is spent on infrastructures and stadiums. people can benefit. so much better than what white colonists done

  23. Nothing new here they have been investing in alot of Africans countries some even own airports and mines nothing new. The Europeans came and f-d everything up killing and stealing for diamonds gold etc and now Africa has become a decline ever since then with wars greedy politicians and the asian continents most of then use this we want to help u card whilst taking over shit is sad

  24. For China, there is always a 'means to an end', instead of other developed countries, especially U.S., you say 'be benefited to local people', how a good double standard you teach me.

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