Many of the roads that have been built in South Sudan, (and there are not very many of them), have been constructed by the Chinese as part of their aid programme.
In Rumbek, there is a large hospital under construction, financed by Chinese aid. The trouble is that when the Chinese build anything in Africa, it is not just the engineers and skilled workers who come from China, but also most of the labourers, so there is hardly any skills transfer to the host country.
Recently is was announced that China had agreed an aid deal with South Sudan under which China would give a huge loan for South Sudan to build two University campuses. The load will be repaid once the oil starts flowing again. Surprise, surprise, all the contracts for the construction of the campuses were awarded to Chinese companies.
And the advantage that the Chinese derive from the aid that they give, is easy to see. If you go into Rumbek market, you can see Chinese goods everywhere.
If you want a motorbike or a radio or a generator or a pair of nail clippers, they’ll be Chinese.
The bicycles that Linda and I bought are both Chinese.
The soap powder we use to wash our clothes is Chinese.
The plastic chairs we sit on are Chinese.
Even our toilet rolls come off the slow boat from China.
China is achieving a level of dominance over Africa that the British and French tried, (and failed), to achieve by military means in the nineteenth century. The only difference is that they are doing it by means of the cheque book and the bank loan rather than the barrel of a gun.
The Chinese built the oil pipeline from the Southern Sudanese oil fields, through Khartoum and out to the Red Sea.
Three guesses where most of the oil ends up!