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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Is China Good for Africa?: Conclusion, Part One

[See part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5]

The rapid and sustained growth of the Chinese economy has led to the need for the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to scour the globe in search of natural resources to fuel continued economic expansion. Currently, one of the greatest untapped areas of the world in this regard is Africa which has scared away many investors with the seemingly endless instability on the continent. The Chinese have stepped in to fill this void and have invested heavily in the development of the African infrastructure, mostly in ways related to the energy sector. In currying favor, the PRC has entered into dealings with some of the more questionable and corrupt governments in the world. Financing these regimes has had the effect of insulating them against international pressure to reform their governments. Furthermore, the PRC has sold weapons to state sponsors of terror who use them to brutally oppress or kill their internal opposition.

The emerging relationship between China and Africa has the potential to be either a mutually beneficial relationship, in which potentially hundreds of millions of people are lifted out of poverty, or it could result in an age of neocolonialism in Africa―this time at the hands of an Eastern power instead of Western ones.

Economic reforms in China have moved some 400 million Chinese out of poverty over the last 25 years and by continuing these reforms at home, and bringing their benefits to Africa, it is possible that another 700 million people in both Africa and China could escape poverty as well. The China-Africa relationship represents an opportunity to improve the lives of an unprecedented number people, and by extension, the world as a whole. When fewer people die prematurely or do not need to spend every waking moment trying to subsist, they can attend school or work and the global economy is positively impacted by increased GDPs and decreased need for financial aid.

On the other hand, China's business practices towards Africa, most notably undercutting African goods with cheaper labor and keeping them out of Chinese markets using high tariffs, could relegate Africa to the role of an oil supplier for China and a market for its goods. An unbalanced relationship such as this will not help Africa advance economically and will not assist in the necessary diversification of the economies of its countries. This latter aspect is essential for the creation of jobs that are desperately needed to begin raising the living standards of the nearly 300 million people living in poverty in Africa.

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Comments on "Is China Good for Africa?: Conclusion, Part One"


Anonymous blklikeme said ... (4:48 PM) : 

sir i've read your commentary on china development and trade in africa. i must admit i am confused as to why you appear opposed to it.

no nation or region on earth has developed without external involvement, either through colonization or investment or war and its aftermath.

as a multiple visitor to china i can say what has been accomplished there is mind boggling. there is absolutely no way that ngos and charitable organizations will replicate in any african country what has been done in china as external forces, both african and foreign will intervene for their own reasons.

if anything the spotlight should be on america's military basings in various african countries as very little good will come of that in the present atmosphere of extreme resource exploitation.


Blogger Robb said ... (9:37 PM) : 

There's good and bad here.

Yes, the potential economic development is something that has been lacking in Africa. This is mostly due to the instability on the continent.

But, the danger lies in the Chinese exploiting Africa's natural resources and supporting corrupt, human-rights abusing regimes (i.e., those similar to the PRC).

If the Chinese just make nominal economic investment into industries that won't be sustainable for Africa and simply exploit the continent's research then, at the end of the day, the African people will be worse off than they were before China extended its "helping hand".


Anonymous blklikeme said ... (2:56 PM) : 

sir in your opinion what system or process of development is available to the african continent that does not contain unintended side effects

and where is it in use today on a country wide basis?


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