“If China wants to dominate the world, it’s not our business to stop them. Who are we to close the door to them when we don’t have water or electricity? If China doesn’t come, we’re in big shit.” – Victor Kasango, former DRC Deputy Minister of Mines (Map Room: China in Africa, 2011)
The Aid that Western countries and organisations are providing is not being allocated well and it is moving the world in the wrong direction; therefore development becomes harder to achieve, general trends suggest that inequality and poverty is still prevalent. (Wade, 2003)
The Chinese announced at the Global Goals summit at the UN that they have decided to invest $2bn in Africa for development purposes and have also pledged to write of any outstanding debts owed by least developed countries this year. (the Guardian, 2015)
China has been extending their generous hands to Africa; particularly Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), China has been named as Africa’s major trading partner. Their investments are helping Africa as a whole by helping the eradication of poverty, providing sanitation, jobs, and modernizing cities across the whole African continent. These achievement seem positive; therefore you might be thinking why is it an issue for the global political economy. Therefore I am asking what are the cost and benefits of these partnerships between one country and a whole continent. In addition some have criticized China by implying that they are following the footsteps of the West, colonizing Africa but in a different way. (Smith, 2015)
“China-SSA trade has rapidly intensified since the late 1990’s and in 2013 China became SSA’s largest export and development partner. China now represents about a quarter of SSA’s trade, up from just 2.3 percent in 1985.” (Pigato and Tang, 2015)
China is Africa’s largest exporter by far, china has helped Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) with the global financial crisis as the China’s FDI have boosted their economies and trading with china has helped to reduce Africa’s high export volatility. Chinese trade with African countries was valued at $170 billion in 2013; this has also seen china overtake Europe as SSA’s largest export partner. China has also industrialization many countries in SSA especially those rich in natural resources; clearly showing that China holds a particular motive when investing in African countries. (Pigato and Tang, 2015)
“To date, few African countries have been able to benefit from large-scale Chinese investment outside the resource sector. However, as China’s growth slows and its economy shifts toward a more consumption-driven model, it is likely that global demand for resource imports will slow as well.” However China accounts for 27% of SSA’s exports, 23% is held by the European Union and 21% by the United States. (Pigato and Tang, 2015)
Many Africans just like me are pessimistic when it comes to China’s presence in Africa; the Chinese are nearly in every African country and they are contributing to the economics and physical landscape of Africa and whether that’s good or not is debatable. China being in SSA makes it hard for citizens to trade within their communities, Africa as a whole is agricultural therefore when china continue to build factories and urbanize land the farmers for example are not benefiting from the Aid or FDI because African governments prefer China to urbanize the land rather than invest in their citizens. Furthermore the Chinese firms operating in Africa are controlled by the Chinese government therefore it is hard to see if these investments are profitable for African countries as a whole or to the Chinese. (Map Room: China in Africa, 2011)
The African continent has previously been plagued by colonialism and slavery therefore foreign states’ such as China entering African countries for the purpose of development is controversial and it has made Africans feel that Chinese investors are not going there to help their development but are there to exploit them just as the western countries did in the 20th century. The quote at the beginning also reflects the idea that African leaders have no choice but to let China in their countries because they do not have an option; the USA also urges that African nations should accept the FDI from China. Also citizens need necessities just like those described in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs under ‘physiological’; such as Food, Shelter and Sanitation, under these circumstances African leaders don’t have many options.
Overall, the China-Africa relations continues to be debatable well for me especially when it comes to the future. What’s going to happen? Where will China go after the remaining resources run out? What will Africa do? Will China drain our resources and exploit us just like the westerners did and leave?
Map Room: China in Africa. (2011). World Policy Journal, 28(1), pp.8-9.
the Guardian, (2015). China pledges $2bn for development goals and says it will write off debts. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/sep/27/china-pledges-2bn-for-development-goals-and-says-it-will-write-off-debts [Accessed 12 Dec. 2015].
Pigato, M. and Tang, W. (2015). China and Africa: Expanding Economic Ties in an Evolving Global Context. [online] The World Bank. Available at: http://www.worldbank.org/content/dam/Worldbank/Event/Africa/Investing%20in%20Africa%20Forum/2015/investing-in-africa-forum-china-and-africa-expanding-economic-ties-in-an-evolving-global-context.pdf [Accessed 8 Dec. 2015].
Smith, D. (2015). China denies building empire in Africa. [online] The Guardian. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jan/12/china-denies-building-empire-africa-colonialism [Accessed 6 Dec. 2015].
Wade, R. (2003). What strategies are viable for developing countries today? The World Trade Organization and the shrinking of ‘development space’. Review of International Political Economy, 10(4), p.634.