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Is China the new colonial power in Africa?
The Observer (UK) / Taipei Times ^ | Nov 01, 2006 | Conal Walsh

Posted on 10/31/2006 8:32:17 PM PST by diesel00

By Conal Walsh
THE OBSERVER, LONDON
Wednesday, Nov 01, 2006, Page 9



Once the targets of rioting and insurrection in Africa were European colonial overlords. Today, though, jet-setting Chinese businessmen, arriving in ever greater numbers, are causing a backlash in the world's poorest continent.

Zambia was the scene of the latest trouble early last month, when Chinese shopkeepers in the capital Lusaka were forced to use barricades to protect themselves from looters at the culmination of a bitter election contest fought largely on the issue of China's alleged "exploitation" of the southern African country.

Opposition leader Michael Sata won nearly a third of the vote after accusing the Chinese of making Zambia a "dumping ground for their human beings," and across Africa there is growing alarm, as well as excitement, at China's burgeoning financial and political involvement.

The perils and rewards of Beijing's engagement with Africa are well illustrated in Zambia, where Lusaka's community of Chinese entrepreneurs, diplomats and technicians has grown tenfold to about 30,000 in the past decade.

Investment from China has resurrected the country's moribund Chambishi copper mine, raising the promise of vital revenue. But miners have protested over poor pay and dangerous working conditions, which led to dozens of deaths in an industrial accident earlier this year.

As China aggressively seeks new markets for its exports and new raw materials to feed its explosive economic growth, its involvement in Africa is increasingly the subject of heated international debate.

`Across Africa there is growing alarm, as well as excitement, at China's burgeoning financial and political involvement.'

Just two weeks ago, Paul Wolfowitz, president of the World Bank, criticized China for ignoring human rights and environmental standards when lending to other developing countries.

Beijing, however, shows no signs of being deterred. Today and tomorrow it is hosting leaders from 48 African countries at a summit designed to cement its influence. China's trade with Africa has grown at an astonishing rate, from about US$10 billion in 2000 to an estimated US$50 billion this year.

Wei Jianguo, a government minister, rejected Wolfowitz's criticism, arguing that China's investments were "like sending firewood in the snow" and would provide some of the world's poorest countries with the infrastructure development that they really needed.

He has a point. Chinese investors and state agencies have spent billions on roadbuilding in Kenya, a hydroelectric dam in Ghana and a mobile phone network in Ethiopia. Nigeria, where China has been snapping up oil assets, has a Mandarin-language newspaper serving 50,000 readers -- a community greater in number than the British ever were, even at the height of Empire.

Chinese investment in Africa has overtaken Britain's, and stands only behind that of France and the US.

The opening of new trade and investment corridors between developing countries -- confirmed as a growing phenomenon in UN figures released last week -- is a disconcerting sight for the old powers.

China claims with some credibility to be the champion of developing countries, and Africans are rightly suspicious of finger-wagging lectures from their former colonial masters.

Even so, it is fair to say Beijing is not up with the latest thinking on development. Like Wolfowitz, Bob Geldof, the Live 8 campaigner, has warned that attempts to stamp out corruption in Africa risk being undermined by soft loans and naked mercantilism from China.

The country's banks do not adhere to Western banks' environmentally-conscious "Equator Principles" of lending, and its companies are not required to be transparent about their deals with African dictators.

Beijing cynically sold arms to both sides in the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia. It has swooped on investment opportunities in countries shunned by the West, such as Zimbabwe and Sudan. Its close relationship with Khartoum appears to have played a role in the UN's failure to take serious action against Sudan in relation to massacres in Darfur.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Beijing's attitude. "China can't continue to protect human rights abusers at the expense of civilians just because it is profitable to do so," says Peter Takirambudde, the group's Africa director.

It is also claimed that some local industries are being snuffed out by cheap Chinese imports. Overall, however, Africa's annual GDP growth is a healthy 6 percent, and some experts suggest the economic benefits that China brings outweigh even the political risks.

"Chinese companies are building roads and hospitals, and generally going where Western companies do not dare to go," says Feng Zhang, an analyst at the Foreign Policy Center think tank in London.

"I understand the concern over human rights but so far China's interest has been very good for Africa," he says.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: africa; china; colonization; hegemony

1 posted on 10/31/2006 8:32:17 PM PST by diesel00
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To: diesel00

yes next question


2 posted on 10/31/2006 8:34:42 PM PST by Flavius (Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum)
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To: diesel00

No.


3 posted on 10/31/2006 8:35:45 PM PST by kinoxi
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To: diesel00

Yes, of course. china seeks to rule the world and this Administration has a real blind spot about it.


4 posted on 10/31/2006 8:43:52 PM PST by TBP
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To: diesel00
Like the other Asian mercantilists, the Chinese are overt racists. They all use the opinion of racial superiority to justify their corrupt trade policies.
5 posted on 10/31/2006 8:44:43 PM PST by Last Dakotan
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To: diesel00; Flavius; kinoxi

There are good and bad aspects to this. China providing basic infrastructure (roads, dams, hospitals and schools) to Africa is not a bad thing, but much needed, particularly in the poorest of regions. On the otherhand, the Chinese aren't doing this out of the benevolence of their hearts, they are after Africa's resources. Like with Southeast Asia, raw material enters China, and China sends out finished products at a profit margin. There is nothing wrong with that in principle (it is the basis of capitalism), but the question is whether those raw products are at market value or obtained at a "steal."


6 posted on 10/31/2006 8:45:46 PM PST by diesel00
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To: diesel00

After reading your informative post #6. I still think no.


7 posted on 10/31/2006 8:49:07 PM PST by kinoxi
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To: Last Dakotan
Like the other Asian mercantilists, the Chinese are overt racists. They all use the opinion of racial superiority to justify their corrupt trade policies.

Explain. You mean similar to the tributary system that the Chinese have had for thousands of years? I don't know how much relevance race plays into China's dealings with Africa. If Africa was a poor continent populated by all whites or other East Asians, would China act any differently? Probably not. To me, China's motivations in Africa are very much economical: to secure scarce resources. I don't see how race plays in this context.
8 posted on 10/31/2006 8:50:00 PM PST by diesel00
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To: kinoxi

oh, I wasn't disagreeing with you ;) ... Just trying to show that people can kind of argue both ways. Since I see China's actions as mostly economically motivated, I would tend to agree with you that one can't say that's colonization. Otherwise one can argue that the West is colonizing China right now, or even China is colonizing the US via "Made in China" products, which is kind of a ridiculous assertion.


9 posted on 10/31/2006 8:53:17 PM PST by diesel00
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To: diesel00
Good answer.
:)
10 posted on 10/31/2006 8:55:10 PM PST by kinoxi
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To: diesel00

One can almost hear the conversation from the dark continents' leaders; "We have to collectively divide this continents' resources, to our benevolent asian partners we deign our mineral and agricultural rights, to our American partners we invite you to invest 14 billion for aids relief".


11 posted on 10/31/2006 8:56:33 PM PST by printhead
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To: diesel00
I get a vibe from China that they deal with Africa in the same way that the Mafia dons did in The Godfather: "So what about them? They're all animals anyway."

The article softpedals China's culpability for the genocide in Darfur ("China....appears to have played a role'). China is the #1 reason for the world's inability to stop the genocide, in spite of all the caterwauling from the George Clooneys of the world.

12 posted on 10/31/2006 9:00:09 PM PST by denydenydeny ("We have always been, we are, and I hope that we always shall be detested in France"--Wellington)
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To: diesel00
And to think, people call us imperialists and still crucify Britain for the same thing that the Chinese are doing.
13 posted on 10/31/2006 9:19:20 PM PST by Niuhuru
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To: TBP

That's OK. If one could saddle them with all the basket cases of the world, they will collapse under the load.


14 posted on 10/31/2006 9:23:04 PM PST by GSlob
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To: Niuhuru

In africa,we chinese will do better than west whites did


15 posted on 10/31/2006 10:00:13 PM PST by sinoguy
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To: sinoguy

Why?


16 posted on 11/01/2006 12:35:23 AM PST by diesel00
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To: diesel00

This is also an interesting thing to observe from another angle. The Chinese are from my personal experience one the most hardest working peoples on the face of this planet. What I have seen them do with just plain muscle power and pick and shovel was utterly amazing.

And the Africans are at the opposite extremes. A true clash of cultures.

One could almost want to sit back and watch and see how this would play out...


17 posted on 11/01/2006 1:12:40 AM PST by The Working Man (Any work is better than "welfare"!)
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To: The Working Man
Good observation. The Chinese might change though when they reach a different stage of development. As for now it is an opportunity for African to grow together with a country not to far ahead of them and willing to do business as equal. I just hope their success in war against poverty will spread to Africa.
18 posted on 11/01/2006 2:44:21 AM PST by lyonel (Hair splitting is fun if it is applied on someone else.)
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To: diesel00

No. China is just practicing pure capitalism in Africa. You can argue whether China's capitalism in Afirca is good or bad, but it is not colonism.


19 posted on 11/01/2006 3:27:37 PM PST by andyahoo
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To: diesel00

And saying China is trying to colonize Africa is insulting the Africans too. The Africans are equal partners of China. If they don't like the Chinese deals, they don't have to take it. If the Africans want something from China, then they need to give something to China in return.


20 posted on 11/01/2006 3:30:24 PM PST by andyahoo
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To: The Working Man
"One could almost want to sit back and watch and see how this would play out..."

Like the sudan, after the chicoms armed up the thugs...

21 posted on 11/01/2006 3:34:32 PM PST by monkeywrench (Deut. 27:17 Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark)
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To: sinoguy
In africa,we chinese will do better than west whites did

I have little doubt you will. Chinese are unhampered by Western-style "political correctness".

The Chinese are currently heavily into Zimbabwe and South Africa. They need the minerals. They do not need the Africans. The Chinese can bring in their own peasants to do the mining and run the farms to feed the miners. The Africans will be treated like the Native Americans in the early days of the United States : they will be pushed out or exterminated

22 posted on 11/01/2006 3:39:49 PM PST by SauronOfMordor (A planned society is most appealing to those with the arrogance to think they will be the planners)
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To: monkeywrench
I agree with you. Which is why I said "almost". The Chinese that I have known personally are kind, hard working and honest to a fault.

The Peoples Republic of China Government on the other hand is the exact opposite. Which is unfortunately true of all of their historical governments. Rapacious, capricious and to one and all, a peasant is just one ant in the anthill. There to serve the mandarins and now the Party Officials who have come after them.

This attitude of the Middle Kingdom and how it views the rest of the world effects all of their official policies. And in Africa we can see the effects even easier and plainer because the Chinese Government is so contemptuous of the Africans and their Government Entities that they have let down their usual guard over "Face".

We, the peoples of the Western World would do well to watch and learn. The Chinese have an very ancient civilization over four and half thousand years in the making. They are very, very slow to change their ways of culture. So what we learn from them here in Africa will aid us in dealing with them in the future as the try to do the same to us.
23 posted on 11/01/2006 4:56:20 PM PST by The Working Man (Any work is better than "welfare"!)
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To: The Working Man
The Chinese have an very ancient civilization over four and half thousand years in the making. They are very, very slow to change their ways of culture. So what we learn from them here in Africa will aid us in dealing with them in the future as the try to do the same to us.

I disagree, I think what they are trying to do in Africa is revolutionary with respect to the traditionally insular/slow/turtle-like Chinese mindset. The Chinese have never pursued strategic expeditions half way across the world in its 4000 years of history (it sailed impressively to Africa 650 years ago, but there was nothing strategic or substantial about it, and consequently no Chinese roots were set in Africa). During the 1960s, the Chinese also had token ideological exchanges with Africa, but nothing came of that either. So why are they so serious about it now? 20 years of rapid capitalism has dramatically changed the very fabric of Chinese thought. The new Chinese mentality as we shall see more clearly in coming years is essentially identical to Meiji Japan between the 1880s and 1930s. The Chinese are not colonizing Africa today, they are trying to achieve their manifest destiny through the present accepted means of conduct. Just like Japan sought to achieve its manifest destiny a hundred years ago through colonialism; remember, colonialism was still widely accepted by the Great Powers at the turn of the last century.
24 posted on 11/01/2006 10:17:11 PM PST by diesel00
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To: diesel00
I was very careful to say culture. Culture involves the mindset of familial interactions and how they deal with each other. And it also involves the mindset in how they view the world outside of China, "The Middle Kingdom", Outsiders are looked upon differently and treated differently.

China, by it's very nature of being civilized nation for so long has used up most of it's easily reached mineral resources. So it must cast eyes outside of it's borders to where those resources are.

Capitalism is just a handy tool for the Communist Party at this time. As practiced in China it still maintains much of the Mandarin/Prince structure that works so well in that culture. And the people there view it as just another one of a long set of masters steeped in their history.

In a way it's quite fascinating to watch. I mean it's like I am seeing history being repeated over and over again.
25 posted on 11/02/2006 1:23:30 AM PST by The Working Man (Any work is better than "welfare"!)
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To: sinoguy

Just be nice to us Yanks (Americans) and I think things will go very well for the both of us. :)


26 posted on 11/17/2006 8:02:23 PM PST by Niuhuru
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