People Liberation Army: China allegedly deploying huge no of ex-PLA personnel in Africa

China would discreetly push its retired People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel as security contractors in Africa to protect its business interests.

In the early 21st century, China’s trade and investment presence in Africa was almost negligible. By 2009, it had overtaken the US in Africa by becoming its largest trading partner, and by 2020, under the Belt and Road Initiative, it was investing more than $60 billion in Africa of the total $139 billion it had pumped into projects. all over the world.

China has more than 10,000 of its companies working for various BRI projects in Africa. To staff these projects, more than 200,000 Chinese workers were involved as of 2018, according to the US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

What surprises Chinese viewers is the Middle Kingdom’s double standards of non-interference; Zhao Lijian, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “China always adheres to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries”. in Germany and other corners of the world.

According to this organization, there are as many as nine Chinese private security companies (PSCs) spread across more than 40 African countries and managing the security of Chinese engineers, administrators and others engaged in infrastructure development on the continent under the ambitious BRI.

Beijing DeWe Security Services has 20,000 security personnel, mostly from retired PLA personnel, in African countries – Sudan, South Sudan, Mozambique, Senegal and Angola. This security personnel is engaged in surveillance, escort, maritime protection and terrain protection for Chinese interests.

The Foundation further said that the China Security Technology Group, which was established in 2016, has 30,000 security personnel, also from ex-PLA ranks, placed in Algeria, Sudan, South Sudan and other African countries. This security personnel provides armed protection, armed

and assistance with security assessment for China-led projects on the continent.

Another Chinese security company, Hua Xin Zhong An Security, has 21,000 security personnel manning BRI projects in Ethiopia, Kenya and other African countries, while China Overseas Security Group has 20,000 well-trained security personnel to carry out China-led projects in all BRI zones of Africa. to monitor, according to domain experts.

Likewise, companies such as Genghis Security Advisor, VSS Security, Shandong Huawei Security Group, ZhongjunJunhong Security Service Co have their security personnel to protect and monitor China-led oil and gas companies, rail, road and port projects in various parts of Africa. According to the Beijing-based China Overseas Security and Defense Research Center, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) spend about $10 billion annually to secure Chinese interests in Africa and other parts of the world. Such moves have nevertheless provided Beijing with a pretext for greater interference in Africa through retired PLA staff, who work as private security contractors.

In recent years, Chinese interests in Africa have faced threats stemming from local conflict, organized crime, kidnappings, terrorist attacks and piracy. In February 2012, when 29 Chinese workers were kidnapped in South Kordofan in Sudan, services of the two Chinese PSCs such as VSS Security and Beijing DeWe Security Services were hired to free these Chinese workers from their captors. These private security companies were also involved in the evacuation of 330 Chinese workers from South Sudan following an escalation of the conflict in the northeast that killed many people, including two Chinese peacekeepers. In 2018, Dewei Overseas sent 600 security personnel trained in martial arts to oversee the construction of the Nairobi-Mombasa railway and protect the interests of Chinese oil company Sinopec.

Interestingly, the working areas of these PSCs are divided according to the threat perceptions of Chinese business interests in different African zones. For example, in North Africa, with the exception of Libya, the focus of the Chinese PSCs remains on the protection of embassies, ports and infrastructure. In West Africa, PSCs are used to thwart threats from Boko Haram against maritime interests in the Niger Delta and Gulf of Guinea.

In the Sahel, Libya and South Sudan, PSCs are used to protect companies and individuals. They are deployed throughout Central Africa to confront any emerging conflict. Highly trained private security personnel are posted in East Africa for anti-hijacking and maritime security. Likewise, the main purpose of the PSCs in South Africa remains the protection of export-oriented goods.

But the presence of Chinese PSCs, who present themselves inconspicuously, is not enough to protect Chinese individuals or companies from attacks. In August 2019, nine Chinese and eight Ukrainian sailors were kidnapped by pirates after an attack on two merchant ships off the coast of Cameroon. The 2015 attack on the Blu Radisson Hotel in Mali’s capital, Bamako, killed three China Railway Corp executives, along with other foreigners. These attacks speak volumes about the professionalism, talent and skills of China’s private security personnel. They are no match for their Russian or Western counterparts who are highly professional and well paid. They are also incompetent when it comes to learning the necessary local language and security skills, experts claimed.

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