Is China Manipulating Africa?

by on January 21st, 2011
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In the last decade, China has invested heavily to fund improving the African infrastructure. But what is China really giving? When a country in Africa accepts a Chinese investment, there are stipulations. The country accepting the aid has to hire a company from China. Also, Chinese workers have to be hired. The jobs that do go to Africans are low paying with poor working conditions. Simple arithmetic shows that a large amount of the aid China gives is returned to China through the fees paid to the Chinese company given the contract and to the Chinese workers on the payroll. Very little of the aid package reaches the African economy. Furthermore, when the project is finished, the experience and know how leaves with the money. Local workers gained no experience or training since they were never hired. One might argue that the whole investment is a scheme on China’s part to alleviate their own unemployment problems.

China’s policies also have an effect on the peace and security of some nations. China has been a strong supporter of the Sudanese government and is Sudan’s largest buyer of oil. That means that when a resolution or a proposal of sanctions comes up in the United Nations (due to the genocide occurring in Darfur) China repeatedly blocks passage of any measures to keep the Sudanese government in check.

What goes on in Africa is important. In the future, Africa will be an important factor in the world economy. The United States is losing ground quickly to China in securing influence over Africa. But it is not too late. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the policies of European colonial powers strained relations with Africa that is still felt today. The United States must treat African nations as equals and promote closer ties without making the mistakes Europe made and China seems to be making. While China offers Africa the semblance of a mutually beneficial partnership the Chinese are practicing their unique form of economic colonialism. Once China has economic control over Africa, can political control be far off?

It will be a huge mistake if the United States forfeits the possibilities to make Africa a business and political ally.

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