[OPE-L] China Eyes Africa: the New Imperialism?

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Tue Oct 09 2007 - 08:52:15 EDT

via Joe Smith's Globolist.  Is this part of a new neo-colonial carving-up
of Africa and changing "spheres of influence"? / In solidarity, Jerry

From a Multnational Monitor issue on oil now available online.

China Eyes Africa: The New Imperialism?
by Walden Bello
Multinational Monitor, Jan/Feb 2007

"First, Europe and America took over our big businesses. Now China is
driving our small and medium entrepreneurs to bankruptcy," Humphrey
Pole-Pole of the Tanzanian Social Forum said at the World Social
Forum (WSF), held in Nairobi in January. "You don't even contribute
to employment because you bring in your own labor," he told Chinese
speakers at a packed panel discussion organized by the semi-
official "China NGO (nongovernmental organization) Network for
International Exchanges."

Stung by such remarks, Cui Jianjun, secretary general of the China
NGO Network, lost his diplomatic cool and launched into an emotional
defense of Chinese foreign investment, saying, "We Chinese had to
make the same hard decision on whether to accept foreign investment
many, many years ago. You have to make the right decision or you will
lose, lose, lose. You have to decide right, or you will remain poor,
poor, poor."

At this point, Dale Wen, a Chinese environmentalist,
intervened: "That's not true. The Chinese people did not decide to
accept foreign investment. Deng Xiaoping [the late Chinese leader]
decided." An African in the audience added: "You have to treat us
with respect."

Into Africa

The debate at the WSF took place amidst a marked elevation of
Africa's profile in China's foreign policy. President Hu Jintao in
early 2007 conducted his third trip to Africa in three years,
following the success of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation
(FOCAC), which took place in Beijing in November 2006. Attended by 48
African delegations, most of them led by heads of state, the event
was the largest international summit ever held in Beijing.

At the start of the meeting, Beijing unveiled a glittering trade and
aid plan designed to cement its "strategic partnership" with Africa.
The key items in the package were raising the volume of trade from
$40 billion in 2005 to $100 billion by 2010; doubling of 2006
assistance by 2009; provision of $3 billion worth of preferential
loans and $2 billion worth of export credits; setting up a China-
Africa Development Fund that would be capitalized to the tune of $5
billion to support Chinese companies investing in Africa; and
cancellation of all interest-free government loans owed to China by
the heavily indebted and poorest African countries that matured at
the end of 2005.

If not yet the biggest external player in Africa, China is certainly
the most dynamic. It now accounts for 60 percent of oil exports from
Sudan and 35 percent of those from Angola. Chinese firms mine copper
in Zambia and Congo-Brazzaville, cobalt in the Congo, gold in South
Africa and uranium in Zimbabwe.

Its ecological footprint is massive, says Michelle Chan-Fishel of
Friends of the Earth, consuming 46 percent of Gabon's forest exports,
60 percent of timber exported from Equatorial Guinea and 11 percent
of timber exports from Cameroon.


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