China in Africa: The New Imperialism.


Colonialism comes back to Africa in the 21st century as China is exploiting its resources. Over the years the public opinion was that China’s investment in Sub-Saharan Africa, which started in the 1990s, was a way of cooperation to develop the region. But in the last four years, thanks to the media and other sources the public opinion has showed some concern and even anger towards China.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanui, says the essence of colonialism is already present. China is taking Africa’s’ primary goods like petroleum and coal. In order to do so China has set up infrastructure like mines. Infrastructure that do not supply jobs to Africans but to Chinese. So China takes Africa’s primary goods, manufactures goods using Africa’s’  primary goods and than sells those manufactured goods back to Africa. Goods that should be produced by Africa to be sold domestically or internationally.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanui.

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanui.

Others are very critical about China’s unethical business practices. Guy Scott a former agriculture minister for Zambia has even made such accusations like “We’ve had bad people before. The whites were bad, the Indians were worse but the Chinese are worst of all.’” China has been very present in the textile industry in Zambia. Workers in this industry have complained about harsh working conditions. Another incident in agriculture have angered african people in Mozambique. Some African governments have allowed China to take land in exchange for the building of hospitals. Land that many African farmers depend on to live.

So if the Chinese are so horrible why is investing increasing and not decreasing?

Its all about politics. Many African governments like the idea of China’s non-interference policy and their tolerance for corruption. China’s interest go further than just economics. They also have a social interest. The One China Principle has to be a must in order for China to invest in a certain country. African countries must deny Taiwan as an independent state and have no relations. Not to mention the backing 53 African states in the United Nations. Overall China has a lot more to benefit from this “mutual cooperation” : creating jobs for Chinese citizens, cheap local labor, at the price of Africans, natural resources, spreading the One China Policy, and the backing of states in the UN.

Whats in it for Africa? The answer does not surpass the losses Africa has already experienced due to Chinese investment. Africa must be a competitor and not once again a colony.

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