Africa’s new colonialists?

Published on Mining Exploration (, by Sapa-dpa, not dated.

When China signed trade deals worth $1.9bn with African countries last November, without any conditions on reforms and human rights, a German development official warned Africans they risked becoming Chinese subjects.

Our African partners really have to watch out that they will not be facing a new process of colonisation, Karin Kortmann, Parliamentary State Secretary at German Development Ministry, remarked …

… Promises of investment:

Promises of investment in refineries, power plants and agriculture were a condition for China getting oil rights in Nigeria, while in Angola, now China’s largest oil supplier, the Asian state granted $4bn in loans towards post-war reconstruction.

Sudan’s oil industry has also benefited from Chinese investment. The east African country now exports about $2bn in oil, half of which goes to China, explaining its refusal to condemn Khartoum over the Darfur crisis.

Of growing concern for institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the pace at which African countries are ratcheting up debt with China.

In the 10 years to 2004, China had made over $5bn in loans to African countries – prompting the IMF to warn of a return to the bad old days of crippling African debt.

Los-cost Chinese imports:

Analysts also warn of the threat of low-cost Chinese imports to indigenous African industry, which is doubly penalized by high Chinese tariffs on African imports.

The South African textile industry, for one, has started to shove back. Trade unions succeeded in getting the government to negotiate quotas on Chinese clothing imports last year during a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

Jiabao, during his seven-country African tour, reiterated China’s disinterest in exporting its own values and development models and promised increased aid towards education, health and cultural development and debt relief.

As The Economist news weekly said in an October report on Chinese business in Africa: It is up to Africans to ensure that they get a fair deal from it. If so, both China and its African partners can be winners. (full long text).

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