“China has boosted a lot of countries infrastructure and socio-economic development. This is the type of partnership we want because they invest in your country without interfering in the internal affairs of the country. The sovereignty of the country is respected, the people are respected and it is mutually rewarding,” Gambia’s De Facto dictator Yahya Jammeh told the CCTV news media during an interview hours after the impoverished West African nation restored diplomatic ties with Main Land China.
Mr. Jammeh, who came to power in July of 1994, through a coup, severed ties with Main Land China, as soon as he assumed Gambia’s mantle of leadership. The military government, he headed befriended Taiwan, and decided to throw China, under the bus. The Chinese were given ultimatum to leave The Gambia within forty eight hours.
Over the years, Taiwan, has pumped millions of dollars into The Gambia. Sadly, the dictator pocketed the Taipei funds, leaving his country today into a state of total economic decadence and infrastructural collapse.
As articulated by Jammeh, Main Land China, has been very supportive of The Gambia and her people over the years under President Jawara’s leadership. This is evident on the numerous infrastructural structures, and macroeconomic projects that China, had left behind in The Gambia, when Jammeh expelled them back in 1994. Unlike Taiwan, China, doesn’t engage in checkbook diplomacy. Instead of filling Jammeh’s pockets with dollars, China, would rather improve Gambia’s infrastructure, and economy, through loans. China, invests in countries it befriends, and all investment projects sponsored by China, are loaned out to third world countries such as poor Gambia.
Gambia’s restoration of diplomatic ties with China, has been motivated by the following factors: First, and foremost, The Gambia government is at the brink of total economic and infrastructural collapse. Hence, the urgent need of Banjul finding a new viable ally, is crucially imperative. Arguably, the government in Banjul indeed needs a dependable ally that would come to its aid in times of major economic challenges.
It is also evident that the Jammeh government has been isolated by the international community, including the donor community. This is largely due to the regime’s lack of respect for human rights, rule of law, democracy, and good governance. Jammeh doesn’t want to conform to democratic norms and values. Hence, he has opted the path to international isolation to further oppress his countrymen.
Having an ally like China, which doesn’t meddle into its ally’s internal rights situation, and politics, as rightly argued by dictator Jammeh, on the other hand, would avail Jammeh with the opportunity to be able to work out a deal with the Chinese by using them to help fix Gambia’s battered infrastructure and economy.
The truth be told: Jammeh prefers Taiwan, than Main Land China, but since he could no longer fool the Taipei government, with his endless monetary requests, he has decided to embrace the Chinese out of desperation. Jammeh is on record for having repeatedly chastised Main Land China. This was the time when the Taiwanese used to hand him raw dollar cash to drum up support for the Island country at the United Nations. Now, the rest is history.
Secondly, with the Chinese coming into The Gambia, Jammeh is rest assured that the already collapsed health sector, would be revamped. The Chinese left an excellent Primary Healthcare system in The Gambia, prior to their expulsion from the country, by the former military junta. The regime would be left with no alternative, other than taking a loan from the Chinese to revamp the health sector, including the battered road network.
Thirdly, China, might extend an economic bailout to The Gambia government in the form of a loan to help maintain the workforce. The regime has been experiencing difficulties in paying workers’ salaries.
Having China on their side, would to some degree, stabilize their economic nightmares for now. Jammeh needs an ally, who would help keep the wheel of his government moving. Desperate times; requires desperate measures. And that’s exactly what Jammeh has manifested in the case of Main Land China.
Under the new diplomatic bilateral deal, signed by Gambia’s Foreign Minister Neneh Macdouall-Gaye, and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, the two countries will collaborate in the area of improving Gambia’s infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries, trade, investments, health, education, aviation, transport, tourism and culture, exchanges and other specific projects.
A word of caution to the Chinese: Prioritize your investments in The Gambia. Be aware that the regime you dealing with is reputed to be corrupt, and lacks sense of national belonging. There is no point of loaning millions to a dying regime, when the prospects for the regime to pay the debt is next to nil. A post Jammeh era cannot afford to inherit misplaced priority loans coming from Main Land China. We rest our case!
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai