The private oil syndicate Queensway is becoming the dominant middleman between China and Africa’s oil wealth, reaping profits estimated at tens of billions of dollars annually. Negotiating contracts that guarantee access to oil fields in Angola and Zimbabwe, Queensway promises infrastructure development in return. The syndicate is thought to have been established to take advantage of China’s “going out” policy, which after decades of economic isolation is encouraging entrepreneurs to start business ventures abroad.
What’s the Big Idea?
As the representative of China’s deepening interests in African oil, the Queensway syndicate is a highly opaque operation. Its employees stay out of public view and the company releases no data; its promise to develop infrastructure in Angola and Zimbabwe has barely been kept. In Guinea, the syndicate negotiated oil contracts during a coup, funneling money into the coffers of a violent military junta. China’s “going out” policy, if effective, could benefit both China and Africa, but the Queensway syndicate has so far been a shadowy player.