28
Jun

Beijing, a Boon for Africa

By Dambisa Moyo

In June 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton gave a speech in Zambia warning of a “new colonialism” threatening the African continent. “We saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave,” she said, in a thinly veiled swipe at China.

In 2009, China became Africa’s single largest trading partner, surpassing the United States. And China’s foreign direct investment in Africa has skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2011.

Since China began seriously investing in Africa in 2005, it has been routinely cast as a stealthy imperialist with a voracious appetite for commodities and no qualms about exploiting Africans to get them. It is no wonder that the American government is lashing out at its new competitor — while China has made huge investments in Africa, the United States has stood on the sidelines and watched its influence on the continent fade.

Despite all the scaremongering, China’s motives for investing in Africa are actually quite pure. To satisfy China’s population and prevent a crisis of legitimacy for their rule, leaders in Beijing need to keep economic growth rates high and continue to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. And to do so, China needs arable land, oil and minerals. Pursuing imperial or colonial ambitions with masses of impoverished people at home would be wholly irrational and out of sync with China’s current strategic thinking.

Moreover, the evidence does not support a claim that Africans themselves feel exploited. To the contrary, China’s role is broadly welcomed across the continent. A 2007 Pew Research Center survey of 10 sub-Saharan African countries found that Africans overwhelmingly viewed Chinese economic growth as beneficial. In virtually all countries surveyed, China’s involvement was viewed in a much more positive light than America’s; in Senegal, 86 percent said China’s role in their country helped make things better, compared with 56 percent who felt that way about America’s role. In Kenya, 91 percent of respondents said they believed China’s influence was positive, versus only 74 percent for the United States. Read more…

Dambisa Moyo, an economist, is the author of “Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What It Means for the World.”

As published in www.nytimes.com on June 27, 2012 (a version of this op-ed appeared in print on June 28, 2012, on page A27 of the New York edition with the headline: Beijing, A Boon For Africa).

Comments

Nalliah Thayabharan July 9, 2012 - 11:48 pm

The effects of colonialism past and present are visible all over Africa. Africans are torn away from their past, propelled into a universe fashioned from outside that suppresses their values, and dumbfounded by a cultural invasion that marginalises them.

Africa is the Mother of Humanity. Africa is the cradle of the first human civilisation and that for thousands of years…Africa was in the forefront of all world progress. The First Renaissance on this planet was the African Renaissance. Africa was “the first world” economically and technologically. Africans built the pyramids which even in this 21st century no one can reproduce.

The “Atlantic” Ocean was called the Ethiopian Sea as late as 1626 and the so-called “Indian” Ocean the Azanian Sea. Azanians stimulated trade with the East. The people of Azania whose country colonialists called “South Africa” through the British imperialist Union of South Africa Act 1909; mined gold and copper in Mapungubwe as early as the 9th century.

Africa has suffered the worst genocide and holocaust at the hands of the architects of slavery and colonialism. What is called “European Renaissance” was the worst darkness for Africa’s people. Armed with the technology of the gun and the compass it copied from China, Europe became a menace for Africa against her spears. So-called “civilised” Europe also claiming to be “Christian” came up with the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. There was massive loss of African population and skills. Some historians have estimated that the Gold Coast (today’s Ghana) alone, lost 5,OOO to 6,OOO of its people to slavery every year for 400 years.

Prof. Walter Rodney asks a pertinent question: “What would have been Britain’s level of development had millions of her people been put to work as slaves out of their country over a period of four centuries?”

As if slavery had not already done enough damage to Africa’s people, European leaders met in Germany from December 1884 to February 1885 at the imperialist Berlin Conference. The Belgian King Leopold stated the purpose of the Berlin Conference as “How we should divide among ourselves this magnificent African cake.”

Africa was thus plunged into another human tragedy. Through the Berlin Treaty of 26 February 1885, the European imperialists sliced Africa into “Portuguese Africa”, “British Africa”, “German Africa”, “Italian Africa,” “Spanish Africa”, “French Africa” and “Belgian Africa.” There was no Africa left for Africans except Ethiopia.

Somalia, a tiny African country, had the misfortune of becoming “British Somaliland”, “Italian Somaliland”, and “French Somaliland.” Colonial brutality on the colonised Africans knew no bounds. Each village was ordered by the authorities to collect and bring in a certain amount of rubber – as much as the men could bring in by neglecting all work for their own maintenance.

If they failed to bring the required amount, their women were taken away and kept as hostages in the harems of colonial government employees. If this method failed troops were sent to the village to spread terror, if necessary by killing some of the men they were ordered to bring one right hand amputated from an African victim for every cartridge used.

The result of these atrocities was the reduction of the African population – In Congo from twenty million to nine million people in fifteen years.

The worst genocide also occurred in Namibia in 1904. Namibia was then a German colony. The Herero people resisted German colonialism. A well armed army under General Lothar von Trotha defeated the Hereros at the Battle of Waterberg. The German colonial aggressors drove these Africans from their land to the desert where there was no water. Seventy percent of the Herero population died of dehydration in that desert. In South Africa the Khoisan people were exterminated by colonialists after being hunted like animals and dispossessed of their land.

China in Africa « The Social Blogwork December 9, 2012 - 1:30 pm

[…] Lets start with some numbers. In 2009, China became Africa’s single largest trading partner, surpassing the United States. And China’s foreign direct investment in Africa has skyrocketed from under $100 million in 2003 to more than $12 billion in 2011. (International Relations Blog) […]

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