“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

China in Africa

9 Chinese among 74 killed in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, April 24: Scores of gunmen attacked a Chinese-run oil field in a remote area of Ethiopia on Tuesday killing 74 people, including nine Chinese, a government spokesman said.

Seven Chinese workers were also kidnapped in the attack which the government blamed on a separatist group, said Ethiopian prime minister's spokesman, Berekat Simon.

“It is a massacre. It is a terrorist act, ordered by a terrorist alliance that includes ONLF,” said Simon, referring to the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Around 200 unidentified gunmen attacked the oil field in Somali state where China's Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau is searching for oil, according to a company manager quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency.

More than 100 soldiers protecting the field engaged the attackers in a fierce 50-minute gun battle, said the manager, Xu Shuang.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Addis Ababa confirmed the attack but would give no further details. China has invested massively in oil exploration across Africa to feed its growing economy.

The Ethiopian government spokesman said some Ethiopians may also have been kidnapped during the assault on the oil field at Abole, a small town about 120 km (75 miles) from the Somali state capital of Jijiga.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is a rebel group fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's Ogaden region.

In April last year the group warned international oil firms that exploring for oil and natural gas in the region “for the benefit of the Ethiopian regime or any foreign firm will not be tolerated”.

The ONLF was formed in 1984. It states that the Ogaden people have been marginalised and brutalised by the Ethiopian government.—AFP

There is no continent on the face of this earth more intractably screwed-up than Africa. One feels sorry for those unfortunate to have been born on that God forsaken land. Some of my earliest recollections of childhood are of following the news that French troops were moving upriver to restore order in the Belgian Congo. Looking at a childhood atlas is a reminder of the instability of countries in the dark continent and one wonders how an international corporation makes the decision that an investment in Africa is worth the risk. (Googling "Africa killings" returns 1.3 million hits.)

I recently asked a computer geek gen-xer if he knew where Rhodesia was. He had no idea and no idea who Cecil Rhodes was, (but that's a different topic.)

The point is, yesterday in the oil fields of Ethiopia, one group of men, 200 or so strong, went on a killing rampage and another 74 people died. This time 9 Chinese were included in the victims. To my knowledge, China does not have a great deal of experience with workers abroad. I do know that to many Chinese people, pride, especially nationalistic pride is important. It is very important to them that they not be seen as "soft." At least that's the impression the Chinese have been cultivating especially since we accidentally bombed their embassy in another place that's disappeared from maps, Yugoslavia. Let's see if the "Chinese street"gets upset about this incident.

The Chinese have condemned the atrocity and the Ethiopian Prime Minister has has vowed "those responsible for this act will pay in full for what they did." I don't expect much, after all, what's are 63 Somalis and 9 Chinese worth?

China is a young man abroad and will learn to balance the demands of its people with the needs of its economy. A life here and there is the price you pay when you are out in the cruel world, especially in backwards, tribal Africa.


  1. Americans, English, Chinese, Indians and Jews make up the universal tribes that are found all over the world. An auspicious group that has one thing in common and that is the global pursuit of opportunities. It will be very interesting to see if the Chinese can succeed in Africa. Should they do so, it will be good for them and good for Africa.

    I am sure there is some naturalized American from England who has a Jewish father and a Chinese mother and is married to an Indian that has a point of view on this. We would like to hear from you.

  2. The Ethiopian Army has shown no lack of aggresiveness, in Somalia. Here is a case of another group of Somalians provking trouble.

    What subsect of what religion amd tribe ...

    * The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) has been fighting Ethiopia for independence since 1984. The Ethiopian government accuses it of being associated with al-Qa'ida, but the ONLF denies this.

    * The region at the heart of the dispute was awarded to Ethiopia by the British in 1954. It has since been the cause of two wars between Ethiopia and neighbouring Somalia.

    * The ONLF was formed after Ethiopia crushed Somali troops trying to regain areas populated by nomadic ethnic Somalis in 1977-78. The two countries signed a peace treaty in 1988, but fighting continues.

    * The ONLF, said to be supported by Eritrea, is also involved in fighting between the Eritrean-backed Islamists in Somalia, pitted against the Ethiopian-backed interim government. There are fears the conflict could spread across the border into the Ogaden region.

  3. One of the lessons of being a real successful player in the world...

    you must project power and be able to protect your shipping lanes..

    let's what china try to send troops to africa to protect their oil...

    haha ah aha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

  4. I say old boy, you likee hear from
    BritJewChiDia person.

    Me got you covered.

    By George yes, the world is a savage place as Mr. Whit has so eloquently pointed out. Me likeee he writee.
    oy vey! what's ta say, except A Gezunt Dir in Pupik!!
    Ahimsa White Man

  5. They do not need a Navy for that mission, "o", ours is at their and Japans service.

    Admiral Fallon a big fan of China's awareness of US military capabilities. China is a big piece of the US economic pie, their seat at the table is secure.

    The US is certainly not at war with China. In fact we help fund the Ethiopians, who utilize the Warsaw Pact family of weaponry, which China manufactures in abundance.

    Phases and stages.
    Circles and Cycles

    Which keep those dollars flowin' Rawhide!

  6. I think the Chinks have those fields well in hand:

    They've been preparing a WMD Strength Chewbacca Defence consisting of proving that ever since the Al Qaidians were visited by Cheryl Crow, they have a disqualifying level of Robe Aroma equal to a 9.5 on the Stinky Britches Scale, making them not only unworthy of the Oil Fields, but of the atmosphere they rode in, in.

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  8. If the Shit Does Not Fit,
    You Must Quit The Oilfields

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  10. For Security, They'll Post the Perimeter with pictures of their Lawyer and the Silly Monkey, causing their Suicide Vests to self-detonate and explode harmlessly, blowing them clean into the Raisin Kingdom.

  11. The Chicoms, they just don't talk about the weather...

    BEIJING (Associated Press) -- Chance of showers during the 2008 Beijing Olympics: 50 percent. But Chinese meteorologists have a plan to bring sunshine. The meteorologists say they can force rain in the days before the Olympics, through a process known as cloud-seeding, to clean the air and ensure clear skies. China has been tinkering with artificial rainmaking for decades, but whether it works is a matter of debate among scientists.

    Weather patterns for the past 30 years indicate there is a 50 percent chance of rain for both the opening ceremony on Aug. 8, 2008 and the closing ceremony two weeks later, said Wang Yubin, an engineer with the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.

    The forced rain could also help clean Beijing's polluted air, said Wang Jianjie, another meteorologist with the bureau.

    "When conditions permit, we will artificially increase rainfall," she said. "Rainfall is a way to naturally clean the air."

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  13. Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world and Africa's third-most populous nation. It has yielded some of the oldest traces of humanity, making it an important area in the history of human evolution. Ethiopia was not colonized during the Scramble for Africa after defeating Italy at the Battle of Adwa; however, sportsbook, it was occupied by Mussolini's Italy from 1935 to 1941. Having converted during the fourth century AD, it is also the second-oldest country to become officially Christian, after Armenia. Since 1974, it has been secular and has also had a considerable Muslim community since the earliest days of Islam.

  14. Addis Ababa (sometimes spelled Addis Abeba, the spelling used by the official Ethiopian Mapping Authority) is the capital city of Ethiopia. (In Ethiopian languages: Amharic, Adis Abäba "new flower," Oromo, Finfinne, It is the largest city in Ethiopia, with a population of 3,384,569 according to the 2008 population census.As a chartered city (ras gez astedader),costa rica fishingAddis Ababa has the status of both a city and a state. It is where the African Union and its predecessor the OAU are based. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as "the capital of Africa", due to its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.[citation needed] The city is populated by people from different regions of Ethiopia – the country has as many as 80 nationalities speaking 80 languages and belonging to a wide variety of religious communities. It is home to Addis Ababa University.

  15. The earliest settlements in Ethiopia were the ketemas, towns that developed inside military garrissons. These defenses provided protection from European invaders and other Ethiopian tribes.Costa rica toursThe ketemas were often established by peasants in zones between the territories of several constantly warring ethnic groups. Small market centers developed in many of the ketemas, which were supplied with agricultural products by gabbars, peasants who sold their surplus goods.