Thursday, May 24, 2007

Is China Good for Africa?: China and Africa Today

[See part 1, and part 2.]

In 2006, the Chinese government released an official paper entitled "China's African Policy" which states China's "principles and objectives" in Africa. Briefly summarized, the "African Policy" emphasizes fostering mutually beneficial relationships with African countries both economically and geo-politically while respecting each other's sovereignty and not interfering in each other’s internal affairs. This policy echoes many of the "Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence" that were introduced by the People's Republic of China in the mid-1950s during a negotiation summit with India and have remained the basis for much of China's foreign policy ever since. The "Five Principles" are (1) mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, (2) mutual non-aggression, (3) non-interference in each other's internal affairs, (4) equality and mutual benefit, and (5) peaceful coexistence. Or as they were recently explained by Zhou Wengzong, Chinese Ambassador to the United States, "China treats all countries as equals regardless [of] their size, wealth or strength; China makes independent judgment on the merit of each international issue and takes [a] position accordingly; China does not draw lines along ideology and social system in handling its relations with other countries, or impose its values on others; China does not enter into alliance with any country or country group; does not interfere in other countries' internal affairs, or allow others to interfere in its own internal affairs; China opposes hegemonism and power politics and will never seek hegemony; China will continue to call for respect for the rights of countries to choose their own social systems and roads of development and advocate dialogues and exchanges between different civilizations."

One of the "Five Principles", "non-interference in each other’s internal affairs", is a dual-use concept that China uses both as an excuse to avoid pressuring their business partners on human rights shortcomings (e.g., Sudan, Zimbabwe) and as support for China's assertion that no other countries have the right to criticize China's own poor human rights record. One of the tenets of China's African Policy is "Mutual support and close coordination: China will strengthen cooperation with Africa in the UN and other multilateral systems". This policy has manifested itself repeatedly in the United Nations where China has stood in the way of action being taken against violators of international law, like Sudan and Iran. China, in addition to keeping its partners open for business, also gets broad support from these countries to avoid improving its own human rights abuse record.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Foreign Exchange: The EU at 50, Chinese Circus

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Is China Good for Africa?: A Brief History of Sino-African Relations

[See part 1]

The history of interactions between China and Africa is a relatively short one. The early 1400s saw the first Chinese visits to Africa when the Ming Emperors began dispatching ships to the continent's Eastern coast. Between this initial contact, when both parties were relatively powerful in their own spheres of influence, and now, both Africa and China underwent periods of brutal subjugation at the hands of Western colonial powers. These colonial experiences helped develop a mistrust amongst both Chinese and Africans towards the intentions of outsiders, particularly Westerners, which lasts to this day.

Some of the more notable, contemporary relations between China and Africa date back to the 1960s when China undertook major infrastructure projects as part of the Cold War competition for influence in the post-colonial developing world. The Chinese took a break from courting African nations to concentrate on internal affairs in the 1980s but have recently returned with the intention of gaining access to various African natural resources that China needs to fuel its economic expansion.

This economic expansion has given China increased prestige as a major player on the world stage, something Chinese modernizers have sought since the period that Chinese historians call Chinas "Century of Humiliation". This period extends from the Opium Wars beginning in 1840 through the Japanese invasion and occupation of China during World War II. As Kevin Rudd, Leader of the Opposition in the Australian House of Representatives and an expert on China, noted, "This period has dramatically shaped the world view of the last three generations of Chinese modernizers." It first drove Mao's Communist revolution and then the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, which have set the stage for the current economic rise of China.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Is China Good for Africa?

I am going to begin a series of posts that I have been working on for some time. The subject of these posts involves two of my favorite subjects China and Africa, specifically the economic and political relationship growing between them:

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been the most rapidly growing economic power in the world for the past 25 years and is the only legitimate potential rival to America as the dominant political-economic force in the world. China’s rapid growth and relatively limited resources have forced them to look toward developing new relationships with countries that can provide support for their continued economic expansion. One area of the world that China has aggressively pursued in this regard is Africa.

So, the question at hand is: Are China’s policies vis-à-vis their emerging relationship with Africa beneficial to the African countries involved? From an African standpoint, relations with China could either serve to pull the continent out of its seemingly perpetual downward spiral or it could usher in an age of Chinese neocolonialism on the continent.

The economic ascendance of emerging market countries, such as China and many countries in sub-Saharan Africa has lifted many millions of people out of poverty and will, if present trends persist, continue to lift out many millions more in the coming years. This makes the China-Africa question a particularly important issue when one considers that the populations of China and Africa combined account for over two billion people - almost one-third of the Earth’s population - and of those people, 300 million in Africa and 400 million in China live in poverty. Economic reforms in China have moved some 400 million Chinese out of poverty over the last 25 years (from 53% of China’s population in 1981 to 8% in 2001), a successful and mutually beneficial economic relationship could have a greater positive impact on poverty in China and Africa than every aid program in the world combined. (No exaggeration.)

All things being equal, there is great potential for positive, mutually beneficial growth in this relationship. Unfortunately, all things are not equal here and the balance tilts heavily in favor of the Chinese.

Future installments in this series will cover the following issues: the history of Sino-African relations, the relationship today, how and why China is investing in Africa now, and some of the questionable policies that result from the marriage of convenience between the PRC and some of the more corrupt regimes in Africa.

To be continued...

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

China v. US in Important Talks

A Chinese delegation is coming to DC to negotiate new trade policies.

They are also continuing with their "We're China, #^&% You!" philosophy.

Yesterday, the Chinese announced that they will allow the yuan to appreciate faster, which the US has been pushing for for a long time. However, the allowed appreciation is well below the 30 to 40% correction the US thinks they should appreciate the yuan. Also, the Chinese are doing it more to help keep their economy from overheating - the Chinese economy grew at around 11% last quarter.

I don't want the US to be isolationist; besides that, growing the Chinese economy has lifted literally hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty over the last 30 years. China's economic relations with other developing market countries will also help raise people in those countries out of poverty. So, on the whole, the growth of the Chinese economy is a good thing, if you care about poverty. That said, the US can't sustain this inequitable trade relationship with China forever.

No matter what comes out of these trade talks, it is important to remember that everything China does, it does for China - I'm not judging that as being right or wrong, it's just a fact. One to keep in mind.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

How's Mugabe Doing?

Not so good.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Foreign Exchange: Africa

This episode focuses on Africa with a particularly topical talk about a subject near and dear to this blog, how Robert Mugabe is running Zimbabwe into the ground.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Crazy Crap...

...that I rank high on in Google.

things you should know about Turkey #1

turkey v. kurds #1

"ben wilson" economics johns Hopkins #2 (Sweet!)

mohawk haircuts bible scriptures #1

zimbabweans wanting to come to Canada #9

sistani v. sadr #3

saber rattling turkey #1

ha ha ha America #4

crazy virginia political news #8

people with the name somalia who live in northern Virginia #8

bob uecker's life #2

Things You Should Know About Africa #2

things that don't grow in Zimbabwe #7

things an army wife should know #1 (Welcome Army wives!)

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