A conference of African leaders in
Beijing late last year confirmed China’s ‘clout’ on the continent, whereas the Chinese president Hu Jintao is once again on a whirlwind trip throughout Africa. A cause for concern, echoing warnings by South African president Mbeki who recently suggested China-Africa relations were increasingly becoming ‘colonial’ in nature. Here follows a commentary by Jonathan Hoslag on China’s recent advances in Africa.
Africaas the mine of the world
“The pact that
Chinasealed with the political elites of Africa[does not bring benefit] to the majority of the African population. Even though various countries enjoy higher prices for natural resources and Chinadoes invest more than the European countries as a whole, it confirms Africain its role as the mine of the world, without receiving the chance to develop in other sectors. Around 90% of Chinese imports consists of natural resources. The excessive industrialization of the Asian giant increasingly led to a social bloodbath in hundreds of African factories. It also does not add to the optimis that Chinese companies implement their projects in Africalargely with Chinese workers: own workforce first!
undermines the chance of democracy China
Due to the fact that
strengthens the political elites in their position as guardians of the continent, the chance of democracy and good governance appears to be further undermined. Beijing hinders the existence of an assertive middle class. It breathes new life into the patronage networks of [cronies]. Because Chinese diplomats continuously stand in the way in the Security Council of the United Nations, dishonest [people] can roam unpunished. Omar al-Bashir, the Sudanese president, can [thank] China that he is still in his seat. Not only did the People’s Republic block international sanctions, it also provided China Khartoumwith weapons that were employed in the suppression of rebels in the south of the country and in the cleansing operations in the . Even though the Chinese government continuously staunchly denies it, more and more weapons are arriving in all sorts of [conflict zones]: the provinceof Darfur Congo, , and so on. Ehtiopia, Zimbabwe
Guerrilla fighter in a suit
Chinese diplomacy behaves like a guerrilla fighter in a suit. It realises it is no match against the big players, but it conveniently targets their weak spots.
Africais again at the frontline of an international politics based on bids. The People’s Republic is determined in its plan to strengthen its influence, and is being followed in her ‘scramble’ by countries like . Europe and the India do not get out of their way, and hang onto their energy interests and strategic considerations. The result is a downward spiral in which United States Africawill again end up [as the underdog].