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China-Africa relations: Far cry from Western colonialism

By Zhong Sheng (People's Daily Online)

16:27, September 07, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

The West has never stopped criticizing China for developing relations with Africa. Certain Western officials and scholars recently even went so far as to blame China for the famine in the Horn of Africa.

Western countries see Africa as their traditional sphere of influence, and their prejudices against China-Africa relations all come from a sick, abnormal mindset characterized by blatant double standards. They keep bashing China's assistance to Africa, while papering over their own colonization of Africa and selfish political intentions.

When accusing China of grabbing African resources, Western countries have deliberately ignored some key facts. Africa's oil exports to China account for less than 30 percent of its total oil exports and has always been conducted through normal international trade.

China has far fewer oil assets in Africa than the United States and Europe, and Chinese firms are often awarded business contracts simply because Western competitors do not like the poor environmental conditions in Africa. China has won most of its investment projects in Africa through fair and open international bidding. Furthermore, many African recipients of Chinese foreign aid are resource-poor countries.

It is Africa's historical, tribal and cultural factors as well as lack of effective law enforcement and supervision that have led to pervasive corruption on the continent. Admittedly, China has greatly increased assistance to African countries in recent years, but the United States, France, Germany and some other countries have also provided considerable assistance to Africa.

Japan used to be the fourth largest aid donor to Africa, and South Korea is competing with several emerging countries to aid Africa due to the rise of the continent's strategic position. Then, why do some people claim that the serious corruption in Africa has been caused by Chinese foreign aid?

China has been criticized also for not interfering in the internal affairs of African countries. Following its traditional culture and foreign policy principles, China has never imposed its ideology on others and has been playing an active and unique role in mediating in conflicts in Africa. By contrast, Western countries have been trying to impose their ideologies and values on African countries, which can be regarded as a form of ideological hegemony.

For a long period of time, China has been providing grain to African countries and helping them develop agriculture. China has never purchased land on a large scale in Africa and has never transported grain from Africa to China.

Western countries have occupied more than 30 million hectares of land in Africa, accounting for 15 percent of Africa's current farmland. Western companies take advantage of the low cost of production in Africa to produce agricultural products, process them roughly and transport them to Europe to produce biofuels. By cutting costs, they are making really good money, but what African countries get in return is merely a little rent paid for their soil and the low wages for their laborers. So, who has really occupied the land of Africa and carried away Africa's grains?

In Africa, China’s practices are different from those of Western countries.

Whether in the dirty African slave trade of 300 years ago or in the Berlin Conference held in 1884 for carving up Africa, it was western countries that changed Africa into a raw material base and a market for dumping products by bloody robberies. China was a strong supporter for African nationalities to fight for their independences against the colonists.

Just as African nationalities gained their independence, the West abandoned Africa. However, the people of China came to Africa and started to struggle together with the local people. In the course of China aiding Africa, more than 700 Chinese people lost their lives. The friendship between Africa and China was established by blood.

In the long colonial history, the West built only simple roads in Africa's coastal regions and mining areas, aimed at transporting Africa's ores and resources off the continent. But China has built more than 2,000 kilometers of railways and over 3,000 kilometers of highways in Africa. By the end of 2009, China had built more than 500 infrastructure projects in Africa, half of which are projects for improving the people's livelihood, including more than 100 schools and more than 60 hospitals.

The West regards itself as the savior and benefactor of Africa and sets preconditions of so-called democracy, freedom and human rights on every development aid to Africa. But China's aid is based on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development, and China regards its aid to Africa as the mutual aid between developing countries.

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Leave your comment8 comments

  1. Name

ASEAN at 2011-09-18220.255.2.*
Sometime in July, the British PM David Cameron warned African states over the "Chinese Invasion" in Africa. But at the same time, they lay red carpet for the Chinese leaders and the Chinese businessmen when they were in UK. So when the Chinese invest in UK and create jobs for them, it is not consider “Chinese invasion “. But when the Chinese invest in Africa, it is called a “Chinese Invasion “.This is the case of “it is ok to invest in UK but not ok to invest in Africa”For more than 300 years, it is the West that imported African to USA and Europe to work as slaves. The Chinese had never done that.The African leaders are smart enough to know who their real friends are.And when the Africans find that it is easier to work with the Chinese, the West start to smear the name of China.
Jack at 2011-09-1758.111.131.*
The west do not like the African to stand up on its own feet, Now is the time African got help from China, by building more school and hospital, One day will be catching up with other part of the world
Wen at 2011-09-1567.132.198.*
China’s dreams in Africa are just as exploitative as the West’s. This is a propaganda piece.
thomas at 2011-09-13202.89.190.*
i hope china will stop helping out this western countries they dont believe in values and they will put a dagger in your back when the tide is turn let them suffer their fates
Anthony at 2011-09-11124.148.143.*
I didnt know that about China in Africa, The Africans should be happy they have a strong freind to help them.

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