Representative Image. (Photo Credit - Reuters)
Representative Image. (Photo Credit - Reuters)

Madagascar fights for sovereignty amid Chinese debt-trap diplomacy

ANI | Updated: Oct 15, 2021 10:47 IST


Antananarivo [Madagascar], October 15 (ANI): China has been striving to trap African nations in its debt diplomacy but Madagascar is now leading the fight for sovereignty in the African continent.
Madagascar became part of the first group of African countries to facilitate the expansion of Chinese footprints in Africa through the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with China, little realizing the repercussions attached with it, reported International Forum for Right and Security (IFFRAS).
In Madagascar, China has aided the building of infrastructure, poured in massive revenue resulting in an increased number of Chinese-funded enterprises which now comprise 90 per cent of the market.
This is an alarming trend for a small nation like Madagascar which runs the risk of falling prey to Chinese predator like debt policies, reported IFFRAS.
Over the years, the Chinese have systematically exploited Madagascar's copious natural resources with a keen eye to control not just the local economy but the territory as well.
This is reflected in the massive migration of the Chinese to Madagascar which is blessed with azure seas and picturesque locales, reported IFFRAS.
Chinese migrants have taken away the employment opportunities of locals, disrupted their trade and commerce, and opened shops selling Chinese consumer goods at low costs at every nook and corner and increased the dependence of locals on Chinese products.

Madagascar is being pipped as the new home for the Chinese population in Africa, turning it into the third-largest Chinese populated country in the continent, reported IFFRAS.
Madagascar is also famous for its rosewood trees. Chinese have tied up with local timber merchants for accessing the scarce species of rosewood trees from the protected rainforests within the Marojejy National Park.
Once exported to China, this precious wood is used for the production of luxury furniture and musical instruments, though in the process the country loses its natural resources, the locals earn a pittance while the Chinese manufacturing companies earn millions, reported IFFRAS.
Given this streak of economic manipulation, with the intent to collect intelligence on port infrastructure and to establish dependency on Chinese technology, one of China's state-owned enterprises, the China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) signed a contract in November 2015 for the project of Tamatave Deepwater Port in Madagascar, valued at USD 1.017 billion.
The project involves the construction of two 100,000t container terminals, one 80,000t bulk terminal and a yard measuring 50 hectares along with other auxiliary facilities. With this contract, China Communications Constructions Company Ltd (CCCC) and the CHEC moved into Madagascar's hydraulic engineering market on well designed exploitative terms and conditions.
Madagascar has also been dominated by profit-driven Chinese companies involved in illegal fishing in their exclusive economic zone which stretches into about a million kilometres, reported IFFRAS.
In 2018, Chinese firm Taihe Century Investment Developments signed (2018) a USD 2.7 billion deal running over 10 years with the Madagascan Agency for Economic Development and Business Promotion (AMDP) with a 99 per cent stake in the alliance.
Through this deal, this Chinese fishing firm which owns a fleet of over 330 boats captured the entire Madagascar coastline, affecting thousands of coastal communities which are solely dependent on traditional means of fishing.
But a ray of hope has emerged as the new President took note of Madagascar's unfair terms of engagement and suspended the fishing deal with China in the year 2019, reported IFFRAS. (ANI)

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