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China seduces Africa while West watches
Cat : International Conferences
Date : 2006-11-07 11:44:42                      Reader : 235

absent in that large gathering as all think of peace and development . We hope future Forums with China for America Latin and Asia , development oblige.

Google News 7/11/2006

China seduces Africa while West watches


The Sino-African Forum on Cooperation, held in Beijing over the weekend, must be "one of the largest gatherings of national leaders ever held in a continent that is not their own," writes Britain's Independent.

We in the West ignore this important gathering much to our peril, it says, arguing that the China-Africa relationship makes sense because Africa has what China desperately needs: natural resources to feed its galloping industrialisation. China, on the other hand, has the money and expertise to extract Africa's riches and give them value.

True, China has no intention of playing policeman. It's not going to restrict its deals to African governments which respect human rights, or ones which aren't corrupt. After all, it was China that saved Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe from bankruptcy, the Independent says. Forget international action in Darfur as long as China needs Sudan's oil, it continues. The list of worries about China's involvement in Africa goes further: China's cheap textiles hurt local textile industries, they rarely transfer technology and often bring Chinese workers for construction work.

But China's successes is largely a reflection of the West's failure to engage with Africa on such a level, the editorial says. Sub-Saharan countries are treated like the poor relation receiving Western aid, not a potential trade partner. So, for all its flaws, the Independent's argument runs, China's involvement is not all bad and the West should use it as an inspiration to start thinking differently about its one-way relationship with the African continent.

South Africa's Business Day also sends a somewhat cryptic but nonetheless clear message to the West: "Those who might have cause for concern that their past primacy on the continent is under threat should realise that international relationships are dynamic." China's involvement on the continent should not be viewed as a counterbalance to the west, but as an emerging market that needs what Africa has to offer.

According to another African voice, Africa-China cooperation is certainly welcome, but should be on an equal footing, Nigeria's Daily Trust says. Africa has to make sure it doesn't just sell its primary goods, but sets targets for exporting semi-finished and finished products. China, for its part, should apply the same industrial practices to its African labour force as it does for Chinese workers.

John Metzler, China Post's United Nations correspondent, looks at the China-Africa relationship since the early 1960s and 1970s, when China courted the continent for purely political reasons. Nowadays, the important story is the two-way trade of $50 billion between the two sides, a figure that jumped from $10 billion in 2000.

As a result of Beijing's "commercial road shows" in Africa, the author says, Angola is now China's largest oil supplier and Sudan is not far behind. Agreeing with The Independent, Metzler concedes that China's involvement in Africa has had benefits for the continent. For proof he points to economic growth rates of 4 to 5 per cent which several African countries have notched up lately.

However, "(while) Beijing pledges 'non-interference' in its political dealings with African states, the business bottom line remains that China is using the Dragon's embrace to corner the raw material markets to sustain its corporate State," the author concludes.

International Herald Tribune columnist Philip Bowring also compares China's wooing of Africa in the 1960s and today. The situation nowadays is different, of course, but some common themes remain: China is an opportunity for Africa to be less dependent on the West and the fact that it is not a fan of foreign interventions is soothing for some African governments, says Bowring. After all, China is investing in Sudan's oil production, the West gets much of its oil from oppressive Saudi Arabia. But some African industries see China as a threat rather than an opportunity. "Managed well, China could bring real development benefits to Africans," say Leni Wild and David Mepham, authors of a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, quoted in Britain's Guardian. "Managed badly, China's role may lead to worsening standards of governance and more corruption. As a one-party state, China's foreign policy is not driven by a concern to promote human rights, in Africa or elsewhere."

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