19. China has already been involving itself in imperialist military activity.

There are various ways that China already intervenes militarily in other countries back here on Earth that we have not yet mentioned.

Thus while China does not itself yet engage in major imperialist wars in other countries (at least in any significant ways), it has already begun to involve itself militarily in civil wars and rebellions in other countries. It has usually actively supported established governments in their efforts to put down rebellions, but in at least one case (that we will discuss in a moment) it has actively supported the rebels in their efforts to overthrow an existing government and to replace it with a new regime more to China’s liking. This is the sort of thing the imperialists call a favorable “regime change”, and the U.S. and most other imperialist countries have done time after time.

China has been intervening in military conflicts around the world, and especially in Africa, through political and diplomatic support, through military advice and instruction (supplied by Chinese military attachés in foreign embassies, etc.), through military training of foreign personnel in China, and most of all by selling, or otherwise supplying, military weapons to the side it favors. Of course these are the sorts of things that all imperialist countries do, even the most “peaceful”. But the point is that China is no different, has already become one of the most active imperialist countries in doing these sorts of things, and is rapidly ramping up these kinds of activities.

Figure 19.1: World’s Leading Arms Exporters[1]

World’s Leading Arms Exporters

China has recently become one of the world’s leading arms exporters. In March 2013 the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute issued a report noting that China had become the third largest arms exporter in the world in 2012. Over the past 10 years China has more than tripled its arms exports, rising from the world’s seventh largest arms exporter in 2002 to third now.[2] Both Russia and the U.S. still export more than three times the annual value of arms that China does, so China is unlikely to pass either one of them for some years yet. But China is already starting to take away arms deals from other imperialist countries, especially Russia, but also including the U.S.[3]

In 1990 China agreed to join in “UN peace-keeping responsibilities”. Small numbers of Chinese troops have been sent on these missions to Liberia (2005), the Western Sahara, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[4] China seems to have mixed feelings about such operations; on the one hand it is anxious to get some foreign military experiences of this sort, but on the other hand it is trying to keep a low profile so as not to appear to Africans as just another colonialist power interfering in the internal affairs of African countries.

However, China has on at least one occasion already provided military support to try to overthrow an African regime which didn’t sufficiently support its interests:

“China has put its weight behind the conflict in Chad. The FUC rebellion based in Sudan and aiming to overthrow the pro-Taiwan ruler of Chad, Idriss Déby, has received Chinese diplomatic support as well as light weapons and Sudanese oil. With Sudan maintaining a pro-Chinese stance, and Chad being pro-Taiwan (and since 2003, an oil producer), China has pursued their interests in replacing Déby with a more pro-China leader. The 2006 Chadian coup d’état attempt failed after French intervention, but Déby then switched his support to Beijing, with the apparent defeat becoming a strategic victory for China.”[5]

China has military alliances with at least 6 African countries, including Sudan, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt. It has military attachés at its embassies in many countries, and many countries have military attachés at their embassies in Beijing. China provides military training for the arms it sells, and more general forms of military training for officers from other friendly regimes, though in many ex-colonial countries (now neocolonial) it is still behind the former owners of these colonies—such as Britain and France—in providing such military training and services.[6]


[1] David Yanofsky, “China surges to become the world’s third-largest arms exporter”, Quartz website, March 18, 2013, online at: http://qz.com/64083/china-surges-to-become-the-worlds-third-largest-arms-exporter/  

[2] David Yanofsky, ibid

[3] For one recent article on this topic, and how China has undercut the U.S.’s exorbitant prices for missile systems even for close U.S. allies like Turkey, see: Edward Wong and Nicola Clark, “China’s Arms Industry Makes Global Inroads”, New York Times, Oct. 20, 2013, online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/21/world/asia/chinas-arms-industry-makes-global-inroads.html?hp&_r=1%

[4] From the Wikipedia article “Africa-China Economic Relations”, online at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Africa-China_economic_relations (Accessed June 14, 2013.)

[5] From the Wikipedia article “Africa-China Economic Relations”, ibid.

[6] Ibid.

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