Saturday, October 07, 2006

China Africa win-win relationship

How does Hu Jintao see-no-evil-hear-no-evil policy work exactly? And who is benefiting? One more reason to boycott the 2008 Olympics.

Asia Times Kent Ewing, a teacher and writer at Hong Kong International School, weighs the situation.


In Sudan, Beijing is one of Bashir's leading arms supplier and has supported the president's resistance to the stationing of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the Darfur region, where the United States alleges government-sanctioned genocide has killed hundreds of thousands. Chinese support should come as no surprise, since more than half of Sudan's oil exports go to China. Overall, Sudan accounts for 5% of China's oil.

China National Petroleum Corp owns 40% of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co. Sinopec (China Petrochemical Corp) is building a 1,500-kilometer pipeline to Port Sudan on the Red Sea, where the China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Group is constructing a tanker terminal.

While Chinese and African leaders are celebrating what Beijing describes as their current "win-win" relationship, the average African may not be so thrilled. On a continent where nearly half the people live on less than $1 a day, a cheap car or air-conditioner- or even a new T-shirt - is still out of reach of ordinary people.

Africans need jobs. And while there is no question that Chinese projects have created jobs in some places, they have also clearly taken them away in others. In South Africa and Lesotho, for example, cheap Chinese imports are blamed for the loss of tens of thousands of local jobs in the textile industry, while in Angola, China has insisted on using Chinese laborers as it upgrades the country's railways.

Although China's Africa policy has won the hearts and minds of the continent's rulers, the people themselves appear to lag behind. They are waiting to see whether the Chinese model of engagement with the continent is going to be any different than those of the exploitative colonial powers of the past.

So far - with China using the continent as a source of raw materials and a dumping ground for its own manufactured goods - the formula seems much the same. (more)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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