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China in the Heart of Africa

1 - 1011 - 2021 - 23
Time Zone: EST (New York, Toronto)
Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 9/14/2018 10:37:50 AM

After centuries of economic stagnation & poverty under colonialism, enormous influxes of Chinese investment, both public and private, are providing economic stimulus that is changing the face of Africa and helping the perennially underdeveloped nations of the continent emerge from stagnation and join the community of nations enjoying modern infrastructure and economic activity. For me personally, this is an uplifting and encouraging development which inspires within me a renewed sense of the inherent desire of most humans to be constructive and to engage in GOOD deeds which promote cooperative development & prosperity rather than those which instead foment never-ending "regime changes" & wars. No such immense and diverse development initiative involving so many is ever going to proceed without problems, as the following article reasonably acknowledges, but at least Africans are finally undertaking it en masse in cooperation with thousands of Chinese partners.


By: Kingsley Ighobor From Africa Renewal:

"China’s gift to Africa.” The new headquarters of the African Union, a towering 20-storey building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is so called because China picked up the $200 million tab for the state-of-the-art complex. Ethiopia’s tallest building, completed in December 2011 in time for an AU summit the following month, includes a 2,500-seat conference hall. The gift prompted Ethiopia’s late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to refer to Africa’s current economic boom as a “renaissance,” due partly to China’s “amazing re-emergence and its commitments to a win-win partnership with Africa.”

Not all Africans have welcomed China’s gift. West African political commentator Chika Ezeanya considers it an “insult to the AU and to every African that in 2012 a building as symbolic as the AU headquarters is designed, built and maintained by a foreign country.” However, as African leaders savoured the swanky complex in January, they took turns thanking China.

China’s largess to Africa is not new. Previously China had either donated or assisted in building a hospital in Luanda, Angola; a road from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital, to Chirundu in the southeast; stadiums in Sierra Leone and Benin; a sugar mill and a sugarcane farm in Mali; and a water supply project in Mauritania, among other projects. At the fifth Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in Beijing in July 2012, Chinese President Hu Jintao listed yet more, including 100 schools, 30 hospitals, 30 anti-malaria centres and 20 agricultural technology demonstration centres.
African leaders continue to insist that the relationship with China is not a one-way street and that it includes more trade than aid. Indeed, trade between Africa and China was $166 billion in 2011, according to the Economist, a UK weekly. “The good thing about this partnership is that it’s a give and take,” Faida Mitifu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s ambassador to the US, told the Reuters news agency.

What then is China taking? In China Returns to Africa, a collection of essays published by Columbia University Press, the editors Chris Alden, Daniel Large and Ricardo Soares de Oliveira note, “The overarching driver has been the Chinese government’s strategic pursuit of resources and attempts to ensure raw material supplies for growing energy needs within China.” The world’s second-biggest economy currently buys more than one-third of Africa’s oil.

In addition, China’s industries are getting raw materials such as coal from South Africa, iron ore from Gabon, timber from Equatorial Guinea and copper from Zambia.
Chinese industries also require new markets for their products and Africa is a potentially enormous outlet. “China is repositioning itself continuously for the new Africa that’s emerging,” says Kobus van der Wath, founder of Beijing Axis, an international advisory and procurement firm based in Beijing.
Chinese products have flooded markets in Johannesburg, Luanda, Lagos, Cairo, Dakar and other cities, towns and villages in Africa. Those goods include clothing, jewellery, electronics, building materials and much more. “Even little things like matches, tea bags, children’s toys and bathing soaps are coming from China,” says Bankole Aluwe of Alaba market in Lagos, Nigeria.
African consumers like Chinese products because they are affordable. “Chinese goods are cheaper than those from Europe and North America. In our business, price is very important to customers,” Mr. Aluwe says.

In an article in This Is Africa, a Financial Times publication, Sven Grimm and Daouda Cissé state that in recent years China’s economy at times has grown at more than 10 per cent a year, while cheap labour has helped reduce production costs — hence cheaper products. They also note, “The low level of the yuan [the Chinese currency] compared to the other major world trading currencies such as the US dollar, the euro and the yen” attracts African importers.

Already trade between Africa and China has grown at a breathtaking pace. It was $10.5 billion in 2000, $40 billion in 2005 and $166 billion in 2011. China is currently Africa’s largest trading partner, having surpassed the US in 2009. The Chinese government is eager to cement China’s dominance by burnishing its image through initiatives such as a $20 billion credit to African countries to develop infrastructure and the African Talents Programme, which is intended to train 30,000 Africans in various sectors.

China’s give-and-take relationship also plays out in other forms. Chinese construction firms are acquiring enormous construction contracts. The China Railway Construction Corp. (CRC) signed a $1.5 billion contract in September 2012 to modernize a railway system in western Nigeria. That same month, China South Locomotive and Rolling Stock Corporation, the largest train manufacturer in China, signed a $400 million deal to supply locomotives to a South African firm, Transnet. In February 2012 the CRC announced projects in Nigeria, Djibouti and Ethiopia worth about $1.5 billion in total.

China’s inroads into Africa’s agricultural sector include the 20 demonstration centres that President Hu said will “help African countries increase production capacity.” But there was a backlash when the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo leased thousands of unutilized hectares of land to ZTE International, a Chinese company, in a deal that Oxfam, a UK charity, and others have labelled a “land grab.”

The “land grab” accusation may be overstated, according to a study by the UK’s Standard Chartered Bank. But the authors of the study believe that in the longer term China could well seek to import much more food from Africa which, by World Bank estimates, has 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated land. “Given Africa’s potential, China is likely to turn towards it.”

The furor over land adds to growing criticisms of the manner of China’s aggressive Africa penetration. Many Africans often refer to the poor quality of Chinese products and blame their low prices for the collapse of local industries. Comatex and Batexci, two leading textile companies in Mali, have been severely affected by cheap fabrics from Asia (see Africa Renewal April 2012). “Hundreds of textile factories collapsed across Nigeria because they could not compete with cheap Chinese garments,” noted the Economist, which approvingly added that the Tanzanian government has stopped Chinese from selling in that country’s markets. Chinese are welcome as investors, but not as “vendors or shoe shiners,” said the Economist. In May, Neil Bruce, head of Zimbabwe’s Furniture Manufacturers Association, told the country’s parliament that imported Chinese furniture, “which is not strong,” is crippling the local furniture industry.

Performance assessments of some Chinese investors have not been stellar. The managers of Chinese-run mines in Zambia have been accused of not taking adequate safety measures for their local workers. A Chinese oil firm is exploring in a Gabonese national park, angering environmentalists.

On the flip side, Chinese investors face huge challenges in Africa. In an article in the Globe and Mail, a Canadian newspaper, David Berman maintained that cultural differences between Chinese and Africans, including the language barriers, often lead to social tensions, and that poor infrastructure in Africa makes business operations difficult. Frequent power outages in some countries raise production costs, while policies towards businesses are inconsistent. African governments can raise taxes at a whim. And most African economies are still fragile, subject to shocks from the global economy.

China hopes to minimize social tensions by bridging the information gap. Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, has increased its bureaus in Africa to more than 20. In 2008 the China Africa News service was launched, to report “China-Africa news stories from African, Chinese and Western sources.” In early 2012 China Central Television (CCTV) opened a broadcast hub in Nairobi, Kenya — its first outside of its Beijing headquarters. Its strategy has been to hire some of Africa’s brightest journalists to report on Africa to viewers in about 170 countries.
“We have the news of what is happening in Africa, we tell a positive story,” says Pang Xinhua, the CCTV managing editor. But Yu-Shan Wu, a researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs, sees a broader motive. “China is actively introducing its culture and values,” she says, and calls the push “the rise of China’s state-led media dynasty in Africa.”

In the view of David Shinn, former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, the West is nervous about China’s activities in Africa. Mr. Shinn adds that China’s policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of African countries and its fast approach to aid delivery make it more attractive than Western donors, whose aid often comes with demands to improve human rights and democracy.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently warned against a “new colonialism in Africa,” in which it is “easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave.” It was a veiled jab at China, according to the Guardian, a UK newspaper. But Ms. Clinton’s point echoed across the continent, and it appears that African leaders are now treading cautiously.

South African President Jacob Zuma warned in July that the current “unbalanced” trade pattern is unsustainable. He was referring to the tendency of Africa to export raw materials to China while largely importing only cheap manufactured goods. Maged Abdelaziz, the UN Secretary-General’s special adviser on Africa, told Africa Renewalthat the continent must develop a strategy for its dealings with emerging economic giants such as China, Brazil and India.
Along this line, talks began in South Africa in June 2011 to merge three regional trade groupings (the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern African Development Community) into a “grand free trade area” incorporating 26 countries with a combined gross domestic product of $1 trillion. Such a combined strength could give Africa a more assertive voice at the negotiating table.

The China-Africa relationship will get stronger. The editors of China Returns to Africa sum it up: So long as Africa’s development requires huge foreign investments, so long will China continue to be relevant. “Irrespective of the concerns being voiced in some circles in Africa, Chinese involvement is widely considered to be a positive-sum game.” ;;

Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 11/29/2018 7:59:45 AM

This is a really interesting perspective on China's potential role as a model for developing economies, including those of Africa, presented by Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo. Having witnessed first hand, back in the 1990s, the unabashed corruption in Africa's "illiberal" democracies and the hopelessness of achieving sustained economic and standard of living improvements through Western "aid" (bribery), i find Dambisa's lucid analysis to be a breath of fresh air and a glimmer of hope that the endless cycle of poverty can finally be thwarted.

D. Moyo's 16 minute address to the TED-Global 2013 conference can be viewed at:

Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 11/29/2018 8:10:34 AM

Zambian-born economist Dambisa Moyo shares her perspective on China's economic involvement in Africa.

(7 min. 30 sec.)

Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 12/7/2018 4:08:43 AM


Writing this essay in rural Laos, I just saw, literally an entire army of Chinese engineers and workers in action, building huge bridges and tunnels, connecting one of the poorest countries in Asia, to both China and Southeast Asia, erecting hospitals and schools, small factories for the rural population, airports and hydro-electric powerplants or in brief: putting the great majority of Laotian people out of poverty by providing them with both livelihood and infrastructure.

China does precisely this all over the world, from the tiny South Pacific island nations to African countries, plundered for centuries by Western colonialism and imperialism. It helps Latin American nations that are in need, and while it does all that, it is also quickly growing into a middle class, ecologically and culturally responsible nation; a nation which is likely to eradicate all extreme misery very soon, most likely by the year 2020.

The West is horrified!

This could easily be the end of its global order, and it could all actually happen much earlier than expected.

And so, it antagonizes, provokes China, in all imaginable ways possible, from the US military buildup in Asia Pacific, to encouraging several Southeast Asian countries plus Japan to politically and even militarily irritate the PRC. Anti-Chinese propaganda in the West and its client states has lately been reaching a cacophonic crescendo. China is attacked, as I recently described in my essays, from literally all sides; attacked for being ‘too Communist’, or ‘for not being Communist enough’.

The West, it seems, despises all the economic practices of China, be it central planning, ‘capitalist means for socialist ends’, or the unwavering desire of the new Chinese leadership to improve the standard of living of its people, instead of enriching multi-national corporations at the expense of the common citizens of the PRC.

It looks like a trade war, but it actually is not: like the ‘West versus Russia’, the ‘West versus China’ is an ideological war.

China, together with Russia, is effectively de-colonizing part of the world which used to be at the mercy and disposal of the West and its companies (as well as the companies of such client-states of the West as Japan and South Korea).

However it is being labelled, de-colonization is clearly taking place, as many poor and previously vulnerable countries worldwide are now seeking protection from Beijing and Moscow.

But to ‘add insult to injury’, parallel to de-colonialization, there is also ‘de-dollarization’, that is inspiring more and more nations, particularly those that are victims of Western embargos, and the unjust, often murderous sanctions. Venezuela is the latest such example.

The most reliable and stable ‘alternative’ currency that is being adopted by dozens of countries, for international transactions, is the Chinese Yuan (RMB).

The prosperity of the entire world, or call it ‘global prosperity’, is clearly not what the West desires. As far as Washington and London are concerned, the ‘surrounding’, peripheric world is there predominantly,to supply raw materials (like Indonesia), cheap labor (like Mexico), and guarantee that there is an obedient, indoctrinated population which sees absolutely nothing wrong with the present arrangement of the world.

Messenger: IPXninja Sent: 12/7/2018 9:40:16 AM

Wow, I wish I had your optimistic view of China's involvement. Maybe someone can convince me.

There are different ways to invest in a country. For example, China owns a lot of US debt. When the US economy is going well and it isn't just the stock market but higher tax collection, the the value of the dollar gets stronger, more interest payments are made, and China reaps the benefits.

In the case of China in Africa we have to look closely at what they're doing. If the Chinese are buying land and paying Africans to help them dig then they're simply buying the right to take Africa's natural resources, using their technology whereas Africa could mine that same land and reap the same profit. They could even trade with China whatever is produced from the mines, but when you allow someone else to come in and dig up your land, whether they find oil or gold or diamonds, you have no control for how much profit they can get from it. Imagine if paid you $5000 dollars to dig a small 4' x 4' hole in your backyard and I started pumping out 5,000,000 barrels of oil. You might be happy to have that $5000 but it would be natural to be at least a little upset, no?

I would also argue that China cannot be a credible partner because most of its own people are living below the poverty line. And they manipulate the value of their currency so that their cheap labor keeps tons of manufacturing in China. This makes sense for them because a little money is better than only a few making a lot while the rest starve but it has a lot of negative effects all over the world because poor unskilled labor in other places (including Africa) is passed over because of how cheap it is in China.

So whatever China does in Africa is going to primarily benefit the Chinese and a 200M gift is nothing in compared to what they're taking otherwise they would not have given it. So to me, it's really an indication of how happy they are and how fruitful their operations are. They're simply not stealing it the same way that Europeans have done.

Africa has the resources to dig its own mines, to find its own resources. If there is a lack of anything it is skilled and knowledgeable professionals who know how to do these things. But what you're supposed to do is hire them and import those people into your countries, not sign over your land to foreigners.

I'm open to correction.

Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 12/7/2018 10:35:07 AM

Naturally, Chinese businesses (and government) are in Africa to achieve a benefit. But it's really crucial to know Chinese history and culture (which i cannot impart to you here in a few sentences). In short, the Chinese firmly subscribe to the ideology of 'win-win' relationships as the only way to build sustainable mutual prosperity. Unlike U.S. companies that plan with an eye toward boosting next quarter's or next year's earnings, the Chinese play the "long game" (looking 20 or even 50 years down the road). The West has kept Africa as an impoverished source of raw materials and market for weapons, while locking in its geopolitical 'chessboard squares' as "allies" using installed &/or bribed dictators and scoundrels. It's a cheap & lucrative way to exploit and play the geopolitical chess game, but it keep the people of Africa impoverished and does nothing to promote human rights or economic development.

By contrast, the Chinese only consider that they've scored a "win" if Africa becomes a long term market for their good and services, and a labor pool for their manufacturing companies as Chinese labor gets priced out of that role. That means China's long term goal is to build up an African middle class of consumers governed under political stability (as opposed to the West's constant promotion of political chaos in order to keep others out and sell weapons).

Yes, it's still capitalism, but unlike Western colonialism and exploitation, China recognizes that to maintain sustainable business opportunities (for itself and other international businesses) in Africa requires African economies to grow their GDPs and savings levels in order to make them sustainable markets. The fact that this raises Africa's living standards which sows the seeds for more political stability is considered another benefit in the Chinese 'win-win' model. Political stability is essential for business to flourish anywhere and China has been fighting a constant battle to try to promote it because one of the West's favorite tools to sabotage Chinese economic in-roads in an area is to sow the seeds of political violence. Yes, China wants access to raw materials in Africa, but unlike many Western examples, it has demonstrated a willingness to pay fair market value for them.

IPXninja, I&i can only but assume that you are American subjected to the same incessant anti-Chinese propaganda that i was for nearly a half century. i understand it's difficult to undo that, but try to get past the brainwashing, emancipate the mind, and see some other possibilities. i think it's true that the Chinese development model does not concern itself with the promotion of liberal democracy or political rights in Africa as it recognizes that trying to impose a system of governance on a foreign population is futile. i also think that China's internal record on human rights is at least as bad as that of America the Babylon (which means it's really bad). But i don't think it's difficult to grasp that the Chinese, being really pretty smart folks, have figured out that it's far better in the long run for a foreign nation promoting businesses in another country to offer that country's people a piece of the pie and some prosperity in return for access (whereas the West has mostly been content just to buy off dictators and exploit their countries).

Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 12/8/2018 4:33:43 AM

China pledges $60bn to Africa. West is nervous, why?

Messenger: Nesta1 Sent: 12/15/2018 11:32:05 AM

Even Bloomberg (hardly a "liberal" publication) can acknowledge that what China is doing in Africa is helping to address the real needs of Africans.


December 14, 2018, 1:00 PM GMT+8

When a press release announced that President Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton would unveil a new American strategy for Africa, it raised the question: What was the old one?
From Algeria to Zimbabwe, the U.S. risks losing sway over the 1.2 billion people who inhabit the world’s second-most populous continent. Bolton’s speech on Thursday acknowledged as much, as he framed the administration’s strategic rethink around countering gains made by the U.S.’s primary geopolitical rivals.
"Africa is incredibly important," Bolton said Thursday at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “If we didn’t understand it before, the competition posed by China and Russia and others should highlight that for us."
But much of the strategy Bolton laid out, including counterterrorism and overhauling foreign aid, may result in a more narrow focus on the continent. And the administration’s trade initiatives -- Bolton said the U.S. will look for bilateral deals -- wouldn’t arrive for years to come.
That means the U.S. could miss investment opportunities in a region with the world’s fastest-growing middle class, a continent that will account for half of global population growth by 2050. Led by Ghana and Kenya, African nations are stitching together a trade union designed to bolster intra-Africa commerce. The initiative has a long ways to go, but if it can achieve critical mass, the continent’s combined GDP would be almost the size of Germany’s.
While the U.S. sorts out its priorities, China has spent recent years investing more on the continent -- in physical and financial terms, as well as in so-called soft power. It’s ramped up scholarships for African academics, deployed peacekeepers to UN missions in Mali and South Sudan and sent scientists to help address key economic and social needs.
When Ivory Coast put out a tender to build a bridge over the lagoon in its commercial hub of Abidjan, 10 of the 18 companies that expressed interest were either Chinese firms or in partnership with them. None were from the U.S. China State Construction Engineering Corp. got the deal.
Africa is a pivotal part of President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” with Chinese-backed investments ranging from Ivory Coast power plants to a Rwandan airport and a railway in Kenya.

“There is no way that America can really compete with China," said Robert Schrire, a political science professor at the University of Cape Town, who dismissed Bolton’s speech as “rhetorical swiping" at China and Russia. “No real resources are going to flow" and those that do will probably be strategic, he said, targeted at places where the U.S. has a military presence or terrorism concerns.
The $191 million Ivory Coast bridge investment highlights how far ahead China is -- now flexing its muscle in a part of Africa that until recently its business people showed little interest in: the French-speaking west. The region’s fast-growing economies have also seen a spectacular rise in loans from China.
It’s not that the U.S. isn’t engaged with Africa. The Pepfar initiative has invested over $80 billion to fight HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, providing nearly 15 million people with life-saving drugs in fiscal year 2018 alone. Aid programs target agricultural productivity, health care systems and access to clean water. And the U.S. is the single biggest financial contributor to the UN peacekeeping missions China increasingly participates in.

But the U.S. footprint is shrinking: Trump’s administration has sought to reduce foreign aid -- Bolton said a review of aid effectiveness is near completion -- and the Pentagon has signaled it is shifting its focus to “great power” standoffs in other parts of the globe. Symbolically, the administration has struggled to get past derogatory statements the president made about African nations last year.
On Thursday, Bolton criticized what he said was China’s “strategic use of debt" to hold African countries “captive" to its demands, but he didn’t outline any detailed strategy to counter that with U.S. alternatives.
One country that is offering alternatives is Russia, whose president, Vladimir Putin, is planning to host the first ever Russia-Africa summit with more than 50 African leaders next year. Lacking the financial muscle of its main rivals, the U.S., Europe and China, Russia is carving out a niche by shoring up strongmen in unstable but potentially resource-rich states who have a taste for Russian weaponry.
The Kremlin has found its task assisted by the U.S. decision to scale back, said Alexander Zdanevich, an Africa expert at the St. Petersburg State University.
“The diminished U.S. role in Africa has made things easier for us -- we don’t have to glance over our shoulders and worry what they are thinking over the Atlantic about Moscow’s actions,” Zdanevich said by phone on Thursday. Russia also has the advantage of being a less “overbearing" partner than either the U.S., with its demands for democratic rule, or China, with its policy of leaving nations with debt and pressure to balance those with key assets, he said.
Bolton criticized Beijing’s engagements are "very systematically designed to tilt whole regions of the world" in China’s direction, especially those rich in mineral resources, and said the U.S. must "wake up" and foster independence for African nations. But he also talked about winding down peacekeeping efforts, saying that African governments needed to do it for themselves, and signaled declining foreign aid.
“Bolton talks as if the U.S. strides across the world in a way that the U.S. no longer does, for multiple reasons, and not just Donald Trump, because China is in the ascendancy,” said John Stremlau, a professor of international relations at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. “What’s really important is hunger and unemployment and the population boom and demographic implications and climate change and things like that which he doesn’t even touch on.”
China is focusing on exactly those issues, said Sherri Goodman, a senior fellow at the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program and Polar Institute. She cited Chinese scientists who have been deployed to look at providing water in drought-stricken regions across much of Africa, something she said would be “a lifeline" for many of those nations.
“They’re taking a long view, understanding what the needs of the countries are, whether it’s in reducing energy poverty by growing their energy resources or providing water," she said. “We’re missing this at our peril."

Messenger: cy6erlion Sent: 3/21/2019 11:46:15 AM

Greetings,I live in Namibia, I and fellow citizens are not happy with the Chinese penetrating the local economy, the government is slowly becoming dependent on China for everything even for the most simplest things, nuff Chinese businesses are being allowed to enter the country and we know no one can compete with the Chinese business wise, their products are extremely cheap local businesses are closing left right and centre, construction workers from China now own the construction industry, they own allot of our mines, hardware stores, automobile industry etc... just last month they bought one of the largest uranium mines. I am all for countries helping each other in the spirit of collective security but African countries are too dependent on China and others we are given no room for our own development, wouldn't it be nice to one day hear a African country donating money to China or Europe but the way it is going now it seems very unlikely. All those donations from China and others are just for perpetuating the exploitation of I&I natural resources.

Messenger: The BANNED -- Hemphill Sent: 3/21/2019 12:00:02 PM

Told ya so Nesta..

China is taking over Africa and your support of it is disturbing. The locals see it first hand and do not want China there.. Yet you cling to this lie: "Naturally, Chinese businesses (and government) are in Africa to achieve a benefit." Achieve a benefit for themselves at the continued destruction of African freedom and independence...

Thank you cy6erlion for setting the record straight.

"All those donations from China and others are just for perpetuating the exploitation of I&I natural resources." -- EXACTLY

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