Wednesday, November 11, 2009

China-Africa commitments applauded

The World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, has praised China for its investment in agriculture and infrastructure in Africa and with Wen Jinbao promising 10 billion US dollars in loans at the two day 'China-Africa Cooperation' in Sharm el-Sheikh over the next three years, every indication is that China will continue to increase its role on the continent.

People don't do anything for nothing, do they? Well, not normally and with the old adage, "charity begins at home", very pertinent in a China where you first and foremost look after your family, then your friends and then, perhaps, you extend civil behaviour towards those who you come into regular social contact with, we cannot imagine that the Chinese are in Africa for altruistic reasons. However, was anyone ever there for altruistic reasons?

No, China is not in Africa because of some socialist concern for the downtrodden of the planet and, with its growing economy desperate for raw materials, the give will most definitely be accompanied by the take. Nevertheless, for the West to condemn Chinese engagement in Africa as some sort of new colonialism is pure hypocrisy. China's "exploitation" of Africa is accompanied by many positives for Africa itself. First and foremost, it might give Africans the opporunity to free themselves from their old colonial relationships with the West; relationships that began not with loans without conditions such as those that the Chinese provide but with ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and blatant colonialism. Moreover, the West's blatant colonialism has given way to a more subtle form of exploitation through the IMF and the World Bank. Therefore, while many Africans remain wary of the Chinese presence for a number of reasons, it is Beijing that might offer Africa a new beginning and a new chance.

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