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  Home > Academic Exchanges > Scholar Interaction
China and Africa: Mutual Benefit and Win-Win
2010/06/29

By: Yao Guimei, Institute of Western Asian and African Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

 

2010-06-18

 

Source: Guangming Daily

 

In recent years, with the increasingly close China-Africa economic and trade cooperation, the Western world, worrying about losing its vested interest in Africa, has been maliciously attacking China-Africa relations, fabricating fallacies like "China is plundering African resources" or "China is practising new colonialism in Africa" etc. Yet the facts from China-Africa economic and trade cooperation and voices from Africa have effectively vindicated China.

 

ChinaHas Nothing to Do with Colonialism in Africa

 

Chinaand the 53 countries on African continent are all developing countries. Historically, they shared the same experiences, and still retain fresh memories about colonialism, which was about armed invasion and occupation, control of national sovereignty and monopoly of colonial economic lifelines. Yet the cornerstone of current China-Africa relations is China's long-standing principles of cooperation on the basis of equality, non-interference in the domestic affairs of other countries, and not seekingspecial privileges in other countries. The leaders of Zambia, Ghana and Sudan have all emphasized "China has no political ambitions inAfrica, and does not interfere in the domestic affairs of African countries". The former Foreign Minister of Kenya, Raphael Tuju emphasized that the Western countries often attach many strings to their African aid, and frequently use human rights and good governance as reasons to impose sanctions on Africa. Yet China-Africa relations are built on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit.

 

China-Africa economic and trade cooperation is a normal business relationship, having nothing to do with colonialism whatsoever. Taking international trade as an example, the Western developed countries often use their monopoly positions in international trade to sell their monopolized, over-priced industrial products to developing countries, and use their monopoly power to buy low-priced agricultural, mineral and other primary products, reaping huge monopoly profits through price scissors. If one looks at China's recent foreign trade (including China-Africa trade), one will see such a phenomenon: whatever China exports, its price will surely drop; whatever China imports, its price will surely rise. This shows China's trade balance is constantly being squeezed. China is not only practising no colonialism, but also being exploited by the Western dominated, unreasonable and unjust global economic order, just like African countries. Therefore, the Western criticism in this regard on China trading its industrial products for African primary products is completely unjustified. In fact, they are the biggest beneficiaries from existing international economic order. Their real reason for attacking China is because China has touched upon their "exclusive" sphere (interest) in Africa. A Nigerian listener of China Radio International programs commented in his email, "The Western accusation about China's so-called new colonialistambitions are sheer jealousy and prejudice for the fact that China has cooperated with African countries, generously provided technical assistance, and helped African countries to break the Western imposed chains of exploitation and unfairness".

 

Extensive China-Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation

 

In recent years, China-Africa economic and trade cooperation experienced extensive, diverse and multi-level development, in contrast to the notion hyped by Western media that China is merely interested in African oil and resources.

 

As commonly known, food security is a very important issue for Africa. To solve African food shortage, the government of China, in addition to its active aid to African agriculture, has also encouraged Chinese enterprises to invest in African agriculture, helping Africa to strengthen its agricultural production capacity. By the end of 2008, Chinese enterprises have invested in and established 72 agricultural enterprises in Africa, with Chinese direct investment of 134 million U.S. dollars. In March 2010, ZTE of China received 10,000 hectares of land from Sudanese government for growing corn and wheat, thereby participating in the Sudanese agricultural revival initiative. It is worth notingthat Chinese enterprises invest in African agriculture mainly to help African countries to solve their food shortage, strengthen capacity for agricultural self-development, and benefit the people of host countries. This is unlike some other countries that come to Africa to save their own land and water resources to meet their own food needs, or take advantage of African land to grow mass amount of bio fuel crops, potentially intensifyinga worrying competition for food between their automobiles and the local people.

 

In addition to cooperation with energy and resource rich countries of Sudan, Angola and Zambia, China is also conducting a great deal of cooperation with African countries without the advantage of rich resources. For example, the government of China has consistently provided a large amount of selfless aid to Ethiopia, which is not particularly rich in natural resources. Chinese enterprises have increased their investment in Ethiopia rapidly in recent years, and are building a local industrial park with an estimated total investment of 400 million U.S. dollars, which will be used to develop metallurgy, building materials and mechanical manufacturing industries. Similarly even thoughMali is limited in resources, China has helped Mali to build its first industrial enterprises, including factories for makingtobacco, matches, tea, pharmaceutical, sugaranddyeing and printing. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China has helped Mali to build many infrastructure facilities in the capital and other regions, sent medical teams to Mali 40 years in a row, and provided many training and study opportunities in China forthe Malipeople fromall walks of life.

 

Chinaa Significant Driver ofAfrican Social and Economic Growth

 

In recent years, African GDP growth is almost in lock step with that of China. According to statistics from World Bank, in 2009 Africa became the third most important contributor to global economic growth, only after China and India. Obviously, there were many factors driving Africa's rapid economic growth, but the China factor is increasingly gaining recognition. Emmanuel MBA ALLO, Ambassador of the Gabonese Republic, noted, "China sincerely cares about Africa, helps Africa, and truly hopes to see Africa grow and strengthen. China's development has provided more opportunities and potential for African countries'development".

 

The steady growth in Chinese investment in Africa is an important driver of theAfrican economic growth. In 2009 during the spread of financial crisis, while Western multinationals continually withdrew investment, scaled down operations or laid off employees from Zambia and other countries, China's investment to Africa buckedthe trend and actually grew, joining hands with African countries to overcome their difficulties. In the first three quarters of 2009, China's direct investment in Africa (excluding financial investment) totalled 875 million U.S. dollars, growing 78.6% compared to the same period a year ago. This made Africa one of the fastest growth destinations in the world for Chinese direct investment. China's investment in Africa is based on the principle of mutual benefit and win-win, and many Chinese enterprises have become major taxpayers and employers in their host countries, playing an active role in facilitating economic development in their host countries and winning widespread acclaim from Africa. Chinese enterprises value their social responsibility, and have made their appropriate contributions to social progress in their host countries through concrete actions. For this reason, Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda, pointed out during an interview with German media, China's investment in Africa has facilitated the economic and infrastructure development in Africa, brought the much needed investment and capital to African governments and enterprises, and enabled Africa to become an equal partner in international relations.

 

It is especially worthwhile to acknowledge China's important role in helping Africa in infrastructure development. For a long time, backward infrastructure had been a major hindrance to African economic development. While many Western countries ignore African infrastructure projects due to their high cost, harsh work conditions and thin profit margins, China has taken advantage of its proven technology, management expertise and human resources to actively participate in African infrastructure development, in order to help Africa build capacity for economic self-development. Today, Africa has become the second largest market for China's global contract services, second only to Asia. Chinese enterprises have carried out projects such as the East-West Highway of Algeria, Port of Lobito expansion of Angola, Hydro-power station at Bui of Ghana, the Khums to Sirt Railway of Libya etc. These projects have won widespread praise for their reasonable price, excellent quality and rapid construction schedule from local people. Some of these projects are hailed as the "Chinese Standard" and "Chinese Speed" by African peoples. The initiation of these projects does not only help African countries to strengthen their capacity for self-development, reduce poverty and realize extensive economic and social development, but also facilitates China-Africa economic and trade relationsandstrengthensthe traditional friendship between Chinese and African peoples. In this regard, president of Ethiopia Girma Wolde-Giorgis,applaudingthe Chinese participation in African infrastructure development in recent years, notes thatsuch participation has generated "transformational and fundamental impact" onthe regions involved.

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