China’s commitment in Africa keeps intensifying

1 May

It is not a secret that China has been exercising its soft power over Africa for more than 500 years through aid. Although the Chinese Government ensures that detailed information about the projects ongoing is kept secret, thanks to some US researchers the largest public database of Chinese development finance in Africa is now available. This shows that China’s engagement in the African continent has been particularly intense over the last decade. Between 2000 and 2011, in fact, there have been about 1,700 projects spread out in 50 countries.

Although the main claim is that China’s intention is to get access to Africa’s resources, many of the projects have actually been aimed to development of African countries themselves, including areas such as health, education and infrastructures. Certainly this does not take the suspicion away that there is an ulterior motive in China’s intervention, however the whole can be seen as a strategy for China to intensify diplomatic relations and improve its reputation, hence enhance trade with African countries.


3 Responses to “China’s commitment in Africa keeps intensifying”

  1. gs15g10 May 5, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    China’s influence in Africa is certainly huge and their aid and investment has certainly helped to improve the infrastructure of many African countries.
    But how far these investments have helped Africa to develop is yet to be seen!
    Yes they are building many roads and transport links and even a new headquarters for the African Union, however, how many schools and hospitals they have built is questionable. Even if they have built the initial buildings and facilities needed – are they investing long term to pay for staff and resources?
    Much of China’s aid is helping to improve transportation of goods which certainly gives the image that China is interested in one thing – natural resources!
    Chinese foreign policy believes in non-intervention and self-reliance, therefore aid that is given to African countries, is given without conditions (unlike aid from Western countries). Whether you see this as a good or a bad thing, it cannot be denied that China’s aid is helping to uphold many corrupt governments who are committing atrocious human rights violations against their citizens.
    Whether China’s aid has ulterior motives or not (I personally believe that it does) surely the Chinese government need to enforce some sort of conditions to ensure that their aid actually reaches those who most need it rather than lining the pockets of authoritarian leaders?

    These videos show the other side of China’s ‘aid’ in Africa:

  2. gw2g11 May 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Interestingly, in March Xi Jinping was in Tanzania as part of his first international tour as China’s new president, and he held a policy speech in which he wanted to assure the African countries that his government would listen to the criticism and complaints regarding how competitive Chinese companies can easily suffocate any attempts by these countries to nurture their own industry and jobs. He also discussed aid, technology transfers and scholarships for thousands of African students. In 2011, the findings of a Gallup World poll on global attitudes toward China’s leadership showed that sub-Saharan African countries had the highest level of support of China, and filled the top 20 positions. According to this poll, 68% of the respondents in Tanzania approved of the job being done by China’s leaders. What seems to be most welcomed (at least I guess by the African leaders) is the fact that the relationship between China and Africa emphasizes trade without “the West’s chiding over corruption, democracy or human rights”. As President Xi said “Unity and cooperation with African countries have always been an important foundation for China’s foreign policy, which will never change, not even when China grows stronger and enjoys a higher international status. China will continue to offer, as always, necessary assistance to Africa with no political strings attached.” To us in the West this might seem unacceptable, but I suppose what it boils down to is the question of whether democracy and human rights need to develop alongside a country’s economic expansion, or if economic growth should be the first priority and the areas concerning democracy and human rights ought to be secured only once the country has reached economic stability.

    Another interesting article if you wish to read more on Chinese trade ties with Africa:

  3. ab25g11 May 16, 2013 at 12:46 am #

    China educating Africa:
    The West has undoubtedly turned to the basic need approach in developing African nations, aspirations rarely exceed that of the Millennium Development Goals. Clearly the MDGs are useful, but an alternate development ethos might be necessary to generate more effective and sustainable growth across Africa.

    The Sino-African relations are highly concerning for the West but perhaps for the wrong reasons. In a recent aid proposal to the Democratic Republic of Congo China offered a $9bn loan. The main focus was to mine copper and cobalt sources, however the joint venture would also built huge expanses of road and railway with a large number of health clinics, schools and universities built along the route. Both Chinese and African aspirations of education were fully conceived within this proposal, as each party valued the potential benefits of a successful higher education within a country. This view may seem somewhat excessive when many still won’t have basic needs, but it is these extensive aspirations which fuel the continual growth in China. Education is essential and should therefore be provided beyond a basic level, enabling success which will sustain future development of an entire nation. If the African economies could upgrade in some sectors there would be much greater competition for the West. African companies could partake in the more valuable stages of product production, including the processing and packaging plants. Such technological and managerial development could be aided through joint ventures between China and Africa.

    However such extensive investment as described in the DRC proposal was restricted by the West due to power concerns, the ambition of such a project was stifled by strict IMF provisions. The aspirations of this project will remain as ideas and nothing more.

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