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Special Report: African countries welcome growing Chinese presence despite West's criticism

By Li Nuer, Tichaona Chifamba (Xinhua)

08:26, October 11, 2012

HARARE, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Despite spells of criticism on the growing presence of the Chinese in Africa from the Western governments and media, African countries make greater efforts to lure more Chinese investment into the continent.

Tendai Moyo, a Harare-based social commentator, said it is undeniable that while China is extending its genuine philanthropic hand to Africa, the West is busy extending their brazen iron fisted imperial hand that continues to foment a myriad of destabilizing activities in the continent.

Goodwill, mutual respect and the accompanying win-win aspect have become hallmarks of China's partnership with Africa. This introduces a completely new paradigm and a draught of fresh air to African countries that have been grappling with the effrontery big brother tactics from the United States and its European acolytes, the commentator said.

"It has no debilitating subtle conditionalities designed to enslave its intended beneficiaries or surreptitiously entrap them into a vicious circle of unsustainable debts. It is not meant to be a diabolical springboard to meddle into internal matters of the recipient. Neither is it an instrument of hegemonic expansion but sheer benevolence meant to prop up Africa," he said.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Zimbabwe's Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Secretary Desire Sibanda also said that there was a deliberate thrust by Africa to deal with China because of favorable business conditions.

Africa had, through the securitization of its resources, benefitted more from its relationship with China than with traditional partners such as the World Bank who provided assistance attached with stringent conditions, he said.

"Historically big projects were funded by the World Bank with their conditionalities, but this now gave Africa an opportunity to look East where these conditionalities do not exist. The issue of securitization of resources whereby China gave assistance in infrastructure development in exchange for raw materials for its fast growing economy was something new and gave developing countries the much needed debt relief," he said.

He cited countries such as Angola, Rwanda and Zambia where the Chinese were assisting in boosting infrastructure development. "Instead of focusing on trade, they focused on what mattered most in Africa, and that is infrastructure development. Africa is very rich in resources but its infrastructure is very poor, and we need assistance in such areas as energy, water, railways and roads construction," he said.

As a result of the new arrangement where resources were swopped for infrastructure development assistance, a debt crisis was avoided, Sibanda said.

"What created the debt crisis was that when we were trading and investing with the West, we went for debts and in some cases the debts were for consumption. The coming in of China with their new model of financial assistance, therefore, reduced the level of debt," he said.

As a developing country, China also understood the needs of developing countries better and to a great extent met them, he added.

Sentimental and historical political links with Africa were also in China's favor as it had helped a number of liberation movements against colonizers from the West.

"If they were given a choice they would go to China than to the West, and also because of the old feeling that the West are capitalists bent on enriching themselves," he added.

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