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Case: China - Africa cooperation
http://www.iht.com/articles/2007 ... .1-70823.php?page=2
Tattered French African empire looks toward China
By Howard W. French
Thursday, June 7, 2007
NDJAMENA, Chad: When I last visited this country, in the late 1990's, watching CNN at a French-run hotel here, or for that matter in many former French colonies in the region, meant carrying a screwdriver and readjusting the television's tuner to have some choices beyond French-language fare.
Less than a decade ago, the French claim on this region was still so strong, and Africa's importance to France's view of its own place in the world correspondingly so, that the French were paranoid about expanding American influence on the continent. This went so far as to interpret the American-aided ouster of Zaire's longtime dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, as Washington's bid to supplant France in Africa.
Amid such a climate, even CNN was regarded in Africa by the possessive French as an arm of an encroaching American empire to be held at bay.
Imagine my surprise then, arriving in Ndjamena late at night on a visit from China, when I turned on my television at the French-run Sofitel Hotel to find that the program blaring from Channel 1 was a starchy variety show in Chinese, courtesy of that country's state broadcaster CCTV.
The point here is not to lament the arrival of the Chinese in what has for so long been a pillar of the economic, military and political empire that France has labored to maintain in this part of the world. It is rather to pronounce the inevitable conclusion of its demise.
Virtually wherever one looks in French-speaking Africa today, one finds evidence of a postcolonial policy in tatters, and more startling still, given the tenacity of French claims over the decades, an open sense of failure, of exhaustion and of frank resignation.
There was a time, not long ago, when virtually every car on the street in France's cloistered African client states was French, when no big deal was let without a French contractor's securing a big payday, and where the downtowns of African capitals pulsed with French businesspeople and "cooperants," or aid workers.
Fast forward to the present, and here in Chad what one finds is a U.S.-based oil multinational, Exxon, running the country's biggest and most lucrative business, with Chinese companies investing heavily to match or surpass it.
Despite the recent oil wealth, Chad seems poorer and far more decrepit than when I first visited more than 20 years ago. Nowadays, the only French cars rolling on Ndjamena's dusty streets are battered old taxis of that vintage. All the new vehicles are Japanese.
From oil to telecommunications, all the big new investments seem to be Chinese. And to the extent there is any construction going on, as in so much of the continent today, it is Chinese companies landing the contracts.
A reminder of the French presence comes every morning with the roar of fighter jets that take off from a military base at the edge of town. Americans and Chinese seek riches, Chad gets ever more corrupt, and by appearances poorer, and puzzlingly, even to itself nowadays, France is left holding the bag, maintaining a military base that is probably the only thing that stands between this country and outright warlordism.
"Why are we still here?" said François Barateau, the first counselor at the French Embassy here. "By naïveté, by nostalgia, no doubt, out of solidarity with Africans. I think we're here because we've always been here."
The diplomat went on to make a startling admission: "It must be recognized that 20 to 30 years of cooperation have not produced many results." From there, just as remarkably, he lamented the fact that the U.S. Agency for International Development was not present in Chad, Britain has no embassy, and that other traditional donor countries, from Japan to Switzerland, have only small, symbolic operations.
"Nowadays it is the Chinese who are coming, and I guess we'll see," Barateau said with a sigh.
Chad, in fact, is anything but an anomaly. From next door in the Central African Republic, to Ivory Coast, once Paris's proudest showcase, France's positions in Africa have been overtaken by chaotic events and by competitors, most pointedly of late the Chinese, who recognize a good vacuum when they see one. Here and there, through the deployment of troops, France has been able to hold the line against disorder, if barely, but a country that for so long punched above its weight has proved utterly incapable of helping its African clients move forward.
How did things reach this pass? During the long tenure of Jacques Chirac, France underestimated Africans and China alike, while mistaking America as its rival in a part of the world where Washington has never had grand ambitions or even much vision.
Chirac talked down democracy on the continent as a frivolous luxury and coddled many of its most corrupt dictators, the only conditions for entree at the Élysée Palace were chummy personal ties, flattery of France and business for the clutch of big French companies that have done well for themselves on the continent by hewing close to power.
In the French world, this ruinous condominium, of French politicians who support corrupt African leaders while pushing business deals for their friends, is known as FranceAfrique, and it has cost Africa and France dearly.
Countries like Gabon and Congo Republic and Ivory Coast - one could go on and on - have squandered generations of wealth and development largely because of it. Chirac is gone, and his successor as president, Nicolas Sarkozy, says he is turning the page on FranceAfrique. But France seems morally and economically exhausted by the experience.
Paris's erstwhile clients, meanwhile, are turning to China, whose lack of interest in democracy or even governance should be troubling, but for now seems refreshing, because its business-people bring suitcases of fresh cash and little hypocrisy.
FranceAfrique has lessons for China, too, however: no durable interests can be secured on African soil where institutions are neglected and profit and flattery are the only considerations.
This article suggest that China already replaced France as Africa's new 'colonial power'.
The biased article ignore the fact that big proportion of African resources exported to the western nation!