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China and Africa should look out for each other

Popularity 10Viewed 2533 times 2014-5-2 11:24 |Personal category:Commentary|System category:News| China, Africa, Malawi, Bright Mhango, Aid

China was humiliated in the Opium Wars and Westerners shredded the nation into private lots, Africans were enslaved and her land yanked by Europeans. China and Africa have had their share of robbery and subjugation.


Chinese and Africans highly regard family and tradition. Their dances, festivals and superstitions are as if the two are not worlds apart.


Both have large numbers of poor and both live in a world where even prices of small things such as tea and tobacco are determined in Western capitals.


China cannot ignore Africa: Africa’s growing middle class keeps baying for more Chinese goods potentially enabling China to up its output while cutting its ransom-like over-reliance on Western markets.


China needs raw materials and energy and Africa sits on vast reserves making China’s destiny and fate undeniably intertwined with Africa’s.


From about 20,000 in 2000 there are now a million Chinese in Africa compare that with just fewer than 4 million in America after over 100 years. By my calculations, given 100 years Chinese will be as natural to Africa as Boers.


Africa has over 54 votes at the UN and soon either Nigeria or South Africa will be in the Security Council, the leverage potential Africa offers China is immense.


Africa needs to get out of its extreme poverty, some peace, healthier populations, better infrastructure, better governance institutions, more literate citizens, food security…


Africa needs to break free from debt and crooked market systems put in place by Westerners to secretly perpetuate their plunder; Africa begs to free from pangs of corruption and old dictators who have nothing but embezzlement of public funds to offer.


That is where China comes in.


China was in Africa’s situation, millions died of famine, she had sub-Saharan poverty, she saw colonialism and divide and rule policies and had bad infrastructure – how did China overcome her situation? 


China knows poverty well and knows how landlords and warlords under the emperors held the nation’s advancement to hostage. To this end China should guide Africa and share secrets to advancement.


Africa is a porous continent; if China wants, it can continue what the West started - sponsor wars, bribe officials and take the resources at almost $0 per unit, set up a new colonial dynasty and replace her in yokes of debt.


China can wipe out elephants from African jungles, can buy out mines and enslave the population by merely tricking and greasing Africa’s elite. Europeans also used elites to enslave Africa by giving them ridiculous bribes such as cloths and salt.


But China should learn from Spiderman: With great power comes great responsibility.


It is distressing to see Chinese nationals who behave like altar boys in China run crime rings in Africa.


Here are three cases I can think of off the top of my head just from Malawi: Chinese civil Engineers were caught with Ivory; a Chinese construction boss was pictured in local papers chasing native employees with a whip like a Victorian headmaster and a Chinese supervisor stabbed a laborer to death.


Crime, corruption, smuggling and counterfeiteering are spoiling the good Chinese intent and image and in turn beget resentment among natives who have actually targeted Chinese nationals with violence.


Peter Bodde, A former ambassador to Malawi in a leaked cable to his superiors mocked China’s efforts in Africa calling them a ‘big bark, [yet a] small bite.’


He concluded saying: ‘We [USA] don't build stadiums - we help save thousands of lives through our health programs and improve education for Malawi's next generation.’

 

To Bodde and company: China’s role in Africa is moving to a truly mutually beneficial affair and this was proven in a research by Zachary DesJardins from the University at Albany.

 

DesJardins said it’s the US that takes China’s activities in Africa as a move against its interests when in reality China is doing important work and that the US must work with China if their commitments to ending the continents woes are genuine.

 

China pledged five special economic zones, and a $5 billion development fund to encourage Chinese investments in Africa, 100 new schools and 16,000 professionals trained.

 

A walk at China’s important universities such as Shandong, Wuhan or Nanjing and even Peking attests to this.

 

Chinese firms in Africa are accused; rightly so, of under-developing Africa by importing even basic labour from China. Some say China only wants support to boost its human rights record


Some, like scholar Chenchen Wu and me, do not like the underlying Chinese Foreign Policy principle of non-interference in matters of other states.

 

China must to get tough with African elites. African leaders will ask for Stadia to built so they can rally voters, what Africa needs are good roads, universities and institutions to run governments.


China must avoid getting into a turf war with America in Africa; the best way to help Africa is to work with concerted effort not by competing on how to best exploit her.


African leaders must also do their part. China does business with USA, EU but nobody complains of neo-colonialism or bad business deals. The fault is with the institutions in Africa and the leaders.


The governments should also offer security to foreign investors to be attracted and educate their nations if Chinese firms are going to employ locals.


Lastly, instead of waiting for donors, Africa must move its butt – China was like Africa not long ago and had similar historical tragedies and injustices but now is the dragon to reckon with – it takes effort, not aid.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Comment Comment (22 comments)

Reply Report snowipine 2014-5-2 15:19
China, Africa relationship has been proved by the hsitory; the good momentum should keep on and be pushed ahead in all-around area, economic cooperation can eliminate the key question of poverty and backwardness. Culture exchange can boost  mutual understanding and willingness for deeper cooperation, that needs painstaking concrete practical efforts both the goverments, transnational corporations and the people.
Reply Report 财神 2014-5-2 18:51
You are lucky. one of the largest investor is with you. so that you will delight with Asian Cooperation too..
Reply Report 财神 2014-5-2 18:51
You are lucky. one of the largest investor is with you. so that you will delight with Asian Cooperation too..
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-3 05:19
snowipine: China, Africa relationship has been proved by the hsitory; the good momentum should keep on and be pushed ahead in all-around area, economic cooperati ...
Indeed, more needs to be done
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-3 05:20
财神: You are lucky. one of the largest investor is with you. so that you will delight with Asian Cooperation too..
We are not lucky, China is lucky there is a land where it can find untapped resources and use them without much hustle, the US went through a lot to win over the Arabian oil sphere
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-5-3 11:29
Given the huge number of countries in Africa,  isn't  the China Africa experience mixed? China is more engaged in some African  countries, less in others.
Reply Report tedbrent 2014-5-3 12:29
Word up.
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-3 19:39
ColinSpeakman: Given the huge number of countries in Africa,  isn't  the China Africa experience mixed? China is more engaged in some African  countries, less in oth ...
Yes indeed, China goes for those without too much Western investments...and the view in Africa is partly that China is the guy to counter the Colonials but its equally seen as an exporter of all things fake
Reply Report objchina 2014-5-3 19:42
China is trying to Bridge the Gap between Africa and China, I think this is a good development cos it will help both sides Economically and socially.  I want it to continue
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-3 19:54
objchina: China is trying to Bridge the Gap between Africa and China, I think this is a good development cos it will help both sides Economically and socially.  ...
Me too, i like progress, mutual progress... where mutual is not just theory. Many Chinese think Africa is the beggar in the arrangement, that is a big mistake.
Reply Report 朱莎莎 2014-5-3 20:04
today's world is about mutual benefits,the cooperation between China and Africa can serve to improve both sides' influence in international stage.
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-3 20:07
朱莎莎: today's world is about mutual benefits,the cooperation between China and Africa can serve to improve both sides' influence in international stage.
true, true... that should be the way to go indeed
Reply Report Maierwei 2014-5-3 21:21
Great post. I was just thinking of writing a comment but your last few sentences are already what I wanted to say. Many people keep saying this "China and Africa have similar history, can be development partners blabla" stuff but you take the issue from different perspectives, which is clear, honest and constructive.
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-3 22:45
Maierwei: Great post. I was just thinking of writing a comment but your last few sentences are already what I wanted to say. Many people keep saying this " ...
Thanks, Maie... it is very essential to look at the issue from several aspects, i could not squeeze in more to avoid making the post an essay... but constructivity should be the aim
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-5-5 09:26
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-5 09:36
voice_cd: Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.
Xie xie hao
Reply Report objchina 2014-5-5 16:25
mutafire: Me too, i like progress, mutual progress... where mutual is not just theory. Many Chinese think Africa is the beggar in the arrangement, that is a big ...
Yes, you are right.
Reply Report objchina 2014-5-5 16:29
mutafire: Me too, i like progress, mutual progress... where mutual is not just theory. Many Chinese think Africa is the beggar in the arrangement, that is a big ...
Yes, you are right
Reply Report mutafire 2014-5-6 03:28
objchina: Yes, you are right.
Hahaha, you are a real passionate African man
Reply Report objchina 2014-5-6 06:44
mutafire: Hahaha, you are a real passionate African man
I am a proud African man, I am proud of everything African.

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