China is continuing its massive investment project in Africa with an $8 billion injection of funds into Africa’s newest country, the South Sudan.
South Sudanese Information Minister Barnaba Benjamin made the announcement at the weekend, Al Jazeera reports, with the huge loan earmarked for road, hydropower, infrastructure and agriculture projects.
However, given the perilous state of South Sudan, Sudan, and the region’s huge oil fields, it’s hard not to read further into the investments. Bloomberg reports that Chinese companies have been key in developing oil infrastructure in the country since the 1990s, before the domestic conflict that resulted in that infrastructure remaining vacant.
It’s likely that China wants to see a return on that investment. A study from the Eurasia Group reported that a shutdown in January deprived China of about 260,000 barrels a day, and recent bombings and threats by both sides may have Beijing worried.
While its easy to suggest the investment may be a sign of support for the South Sudan, recent reports that Chinese ammunition had found its way to pro-Sudan militia in Darfur suggest the Chinese position is more complicated — a report from the International Crisis Group at the start of the month described it as a “delicate dance”.
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