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DISCUSSION: Africa/China relationship – Mutual benefit or Is one exploiting the other?

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Has ‘s push for raw materials become a “new form of neo-colonialist adventure” with raw materials exchanged for low quality manufactured imports and little attention paid with truly developing an impoverished continent?

Image Courtesy of http://www.biyokulule.com – Left, a Chinese merchant in Ndjamena. Officials say money from Chinese investments could fix schools and hospitals, or provide jobs and new roads. But so far, even with binding arrangements governing the use of oil revenues, Chad’s people have largely missed out

Quote from /China Relations Article on The Independent

China deals with just about any rogue and unsavory regime in Africa. It supplies jet fighters, military vehicles and guns to Zimbabwe, Sudan, Ethiopia and other repressive governments. At the UN, China has used its veto power to block sanctions against tyrannical regimes in Sudan and Zimbabwe.

The nature of China’s contracts is most objectionable. They are secured through outright bribery by building presidential palaces (Namibia, Sudan and Zimbabwe) and sports stadiums (Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea). Namibian prosecutors are investigating allegations of bribery and kickbacks on government contracts with China to supply Namibia with scanners at security checkpoints. Nuctech, the Beijing-based manufacturer and headed until 2008 by the son of Hu Jintao, China’s president, is accused of paying $4.2 million in kickbacks to a Namibian front company (New York Times, July 31st 2009, p. A4). Another investigation involves a Chinese contract to build a key railroad link.

Most alarming, the deals are opaque and on barter terms dictated by China. For example, in exchange for oil exploration slots, China will rebuild Nigeria’s dilapidated railway system. But China will supply nearly all the equipment and technical personnel at prices determined by itself. There is no protection against overcharging or cost overruns. As with other projects in Africa, China will supply most of the workers. The potential for exploitation and plunder of Africa’s resources is enormous in such contracts, leading irate African commentators to denounce what they see as “chopsticks mercantilism”. With chopsticks dexterity, China can pick off mineral dumplings with relish in Africa, all to its advantage.

Further, China’s engagement has devastated local industries in Lesotho, Nigeria and Zambia. In Nigeria, the influx of Chinese products has destroyed Kano’s manufacturing sector. In 1982, 500 factories churned out textile products in Kano, but fewer than 100 remain operational today, most at far less than full capacity. In South Africa, the textile union says some 100,000 jobs have been lost as Chinese synthetic fabrics replace cotton prints in street markets across Africa.

Angry Africans are sounding off. In 2007, South Africa’s unions threatened to boycott anyone selling Chinese products. In April 2007, nine Chinese workers were killed in an attack by armed men on an oil field in eastern Ethiopia. In Nigeria, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has vowed to expel all Chinese workers in the area.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Yvonne

    August 17, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    It’s hard to say because Africa’s main problem is one concerning trade with the rest of the world. The Chinese will be the worlds main super power due to their manufacturing ability. If they build up most of the African infrastructure, they’re only doing this to transport goods out of the country. If the African leaders allow them to exploit the people then they don’t love the people and they are only motivated by greed. Africa has the resources and yet we are the poorest, we’ve got to change this perception if we want to survive into the next century.

  2. Mbong Hudson

    August 17, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    China is doing what her predecessors have done in the past…exploit Africa for its own economic growth. The trade gap between Africa and China is huge.

    Notwithstanding, China is the only nation truly helping Africa develop. The US and EU will put repressive policies in place to get a loan and only when you meet their demands such as “human rights”, “freedom of homosexuality”, etc, then you qualify for a loan/AID. The US will use democracy as a tool to make people bend to her policies. One thing the world has failed to understand is that democracy means different things to different people…China has understood this principle and even though I can’t approve of all their dealing, they are developing Africa far more than what the World Bank, IMF and the UN have done. In the UN, they represent Africa with their veto power.

  3. Samuel Awasum

    August 18, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Neo-colonization is a very strong word and i personally will not use it to describe China’s activities across Africa. Trade is being carried out across national boundaries and continents like almost all countries do. America for example trades heavily with Europe and Asia compared to Africa but we do not describe such as neo-colonization. Africa as a continent trades also heavily with Europe and of course in the past decades heavily with China and India.

    I must affirm that African countries are bound to this stronger nation China because they provide know-how and equipments though not high class but at a price African countries can afford compared to Europe. It is time for African countries to concentrate in building big industries in order to be able to process their raw materials themselves and also train African Engineers to be able to manage the units in the various fields. What African countries have not seemed to understand is that you invest first and then wait for the benefits to follow.

    To be honest every single nation is obliged to protect its citizens or better still manage businesses to the interest of its fellow countrymen. It is appropriate if Chinese companies operating in various countries across Africa will manage business not to the detriment of the citizens of that country but also it is the sole responsibility of the Government of that country to arrange contracts and business to the benefit of its citizens.

    If you take a closer look at this dilemma you would notice that bad Governance is main cause of all these problems.

  4. Ernest ambe

    October 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Thanks very much for all u are out for keep ti up girls. listen guys in as much as we think china may one day be a supper power, but the reality is that china is not going to be. u know why? because chine is exploiting Africans in the this century. When country signs a trade treaty with China, what does that really means, it means u have sell all ur rights to the Chinese except those on top of the country that are benefiting. 1 china import all levels of employee from China. I don`t know how that benefit this countries in the union. 2 They quickly intergrate and study how ur local system like market comodities, not long all the buyam sellams are out of the market. Chine doen`t come with any thing good to any nation but they are the lucast that comes once a yrs and distroy every green leaf and leave the farm barren gain. please sent them out and do sign any more treaty of any type with this guys. For they are all about themselves and no body else.

  5. Sagbu

    January 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I’m sad to see the slave mentality reflected in many of these comments – and the naivete.

    In regard to the opening paragraph of the post, Africa doesn’t need ANYONE ELSE to “truly develop” Africa. Africa is capable of “developing” herself.

    And an impoverished continent??? Pardon me, but Africa is the world’s RICHEST CONTINENT. Trust that. I’ve worked in banking, I know. The only difference is that Africa has the world’s most naive and exploited people.

    But Africa IS NOT an impoverished continent.

    And shouldn’t it tell you something that when ANY OTHER COUNTRY wants to become an economic “superpower”, the first thing they do is run to Africa to begin exploiting the resources and the people??

    What is wrong with us??? Why don’t we get it? Nobody owes Africa anything in the way of “developing” Africa. Africa’s filthy rich and capable of “developing” herself. But Africa needs institutional reforms; Africa needs to STOP repeating the same colonial mistakes, over and over. Africans need to understand that the continent IS INDEED the richest and is capable of being completely sustaining – that is, if Africans commit to the possibilities and commit to not repeating the same, ignorant, tribal, naive mistakes.

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