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The prickly side of China's foreign policy

China's growing thirst for oil is one of the primary reasons the government of Sudan has been able to continue its support of the bloodthirsty Janjaweed militias' genocidal rampages in Darfur, according to Peter Navarro, a business professor at the University of California, Irvine.

The Chinese ties to the atrocities in Darfur are one of the blatant examples of the hypocrisy of Chinese foreign policy underscored by Navarro in his new book, "The Coming China Wars." In this comprehensive examination of China's mushrooming economy, Navarro masterfully illuminates the dark sides of China's leaps into privatization and globalization.

One of those dark sides, Navarro says, is China's "amoral" involvement in Africa and Latin America to access oil and other natural resources to supply the needs of its industries and its growing middle class -- and to keep its millions of impoverished peasants from revolting.

Navarro shows that China provides Sudan both extensive economic support -- weapons, including jet fighters and Scud missiles -- and diplomatic support, such as cover in the United Nations in exchange for access to Sudan's oil reserves.

China's tentacles reach throughout Africa to every country that has oil, copper, cobalt, chromium, timber, and other raw materials, Navarro says. He illustrates how China is behaving as the former European colonial regimes did.

He points out that China provides loans and grants, mostly siphoned off by corrupt leaders, and in what he terms a policy of "mass construction," makes major infrastructure improvements for the purpose of transporting the extracted raw materials to the ports for shipment to China.

China then ships back value-added products, causing unemployment and poverty in those countries. Only the elites benefit from the cozy relationships with China. "Ultimately it is because of these dynamics that China's African strategy is a threat that will colonize and economically enslave the vast majority of the continent's population that lives outside the elite circles. It is an imperialist marriage manufactured in China and made in hell," he writes.

China's grasping for oil and other raw materials is one of several reasons that China could have major confrontations with other countries, such as the United States, Japan, and Vietnam.

With regard to oil, Navarro presents scenarios in which the United States and China could become entangled in a trade war that might evolve into a military conflict. A similar scenario might spark a conflict with Japan that could lead to Japan openly emerging as a nuclear-armed power.

A war between China and Vietnam, he says , could result from China's enormous, neighbor-unfriendly dam-building program that is diminishing the flow of the Mekong River into Vietnam.

Navarro does not deliver much in the area of prescriptions for avoiding the ongoing or impending conflicts he describes. But in raising public consciousness about them, he has done a considerable service.

With Navarro's China caveats in mind, US policymakers, businesses, and investors have no excuse for being asleep at the wheel in their dealings with China.