"Bullying China a threat to Africa

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ajtr, Oct 15, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    "Bullying China a threat to Africa"


    Opening of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Egypt in 2009

    © World Bank/afrol News
    afrol News editorial, 12 October - China's culture of bullying in foreign relations, as viewed in actions against Asian neighbours, against nations having relations with Taiwan and against the host of the Nobel Committee, spells trouble for Africa, which gets steadily more dependent on Chinese funds.

    Chinese-African relations have exploded during the last decade, with enormous Chinese investments and non-conditional loans and a boom in trade. A large part of Africa's impressive growth since 2000 stems from larger Chinese involvement.

    Many African states have welcomed Chinese funds for more than economic reasons. Greater Chinese involvement signified greater political independence from the former colonial system and Western powers. Governments were again, for the first time since the fall of Communism, able to manoeuvre between two power blocks, seeking support for their own interest.

    Western overreaction against Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe - compared to its silence on other repressive but allied regimes - and the economic straitjacket of Western-dominated IMF and World Bank had made Africa-Europe and Africa-US relations look like one of dependence and neo-colonialism.

    But will Africa-China relations be any better? Chinese foreign policies indicate that Beijing is even more difficult to depend on. China's culture of bullying is deep-rooted and the Beijing government has little inhibitions when it comes to put power behind its demands.

    Interestingly, many bilateral ties between China and African nations only came about after political blackmailing. To see any Chinese investments, nations were forced to completely severe ties with Taiwan.

    One of the last nations to cut all relations with Taiwan was Malawi, in 2008. Since that, the government of President Bingu wa Mutharika has been given what he asked for, and in May this year, a Chinese representative could hand over Malawi's new parliament building to Mr Mutharika. The Chinese proudly was able to call Malawi's parliament "a monument to the China-Malawi friendship."

    Malawi's government, since 2008, has not uttered one critical word about China, in line with governments all over the continent. Typically, no prominent African politician has dared to congratulate Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo with the 2010 Nobel Peace Price, strongly contrasting the long list of hailing messages to last year's laureate, Barack Obama.

    This lack of reaction of course reflects a new dependency on China and a fear of China. The fear is well placed, because a congratulation to Mr Xiao

    Liu Xiaobo, Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was not congratulated by African leaders


    Norway, which hosts the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, is already being exposed to such bullying from the Beijing government. A Norwegian Minister, upon reaching China to negotiate a fisheries deal, was told that her two meetings were cancelled. Norway-China free trade negotiations are put on ice and a Norwegian opera, due to be performed in China in two weeks, has been ordered to stay at home.

    But the region really knowing and describing China as a bully is its Asian backyard, where Beijing insists on total respect for its new role as superpower. Most neighbouring countries feel more or less threatened by China.

    China, in an ownership dispute with Japan over some uninhabited islands, cancelled all political meetings and talks between the two neighbours. This week, Beijing went even further, issuing an embargo on the shipment of so-called "rare earth" metals to Japan. The 17 metals are almost exclusively produced in China and needed in Japan's electronics industry.

    Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines have also experienced Chinese gunboat diplomacy over disputed small island territories in the South China Sea. The ruling Chinese strategy in a conflict of interest is a combination of a military show-off, a diplomatic freeze and economic sanctions.

    These are the reactions from China towards nations not playing by Beijing's rules. The Asian examples and Norway are also nations with which China's relations are much more balanced than with African nations. African states are far more dependent on China than China on African nations.

    Therefore, Chinese bullying tactics against any African nations would be even tougher than what Asian nations and Norway have recently experienced. Therefore, African nations do not dare to protest any Chinese decree.

    One might ask what is worst when it comes to securing African independence. Africa's traditional underdog relations with the West, or Africa's new chequebook-or-sanctions relations with bullying China?

    The only sure thing is that, as dependency deepens, it will be ever more difficult for African governments to open their mouth on China or to get relations balanced. This is of course in line with Beijing neo-colonial tactics.
    By Rainer Chr. Hennig
     
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  3. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    reading through the whole write-up, don't see how China is bullying Africa, or any relevance to Beijing neo-colonial tactics, except for possibly this
    or this?:happy_7:
    the author puts up a sensational subject but without much content related to it???
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    I think the indignation of the author is because the West is losing it's stranglehold on Africa. Earlier it was through colonialism, later through economic exploitation and propping up dictators and regimes of the worse type.

    If China is stepping in the void as the 'Samaritan', even if not very ideal, then there should be no grounds to grouse. The West should either be fair and clean with Africa or should not complain if someone else takes over the ground that they have soiled!

    Take the issue of Blood Diamonds, the bitter conflict in the Congo from the time Patrice Lumumba took over and was overthrown so that Congo could be bled by western conglomerates and which is even now going on.

    Africa has good reasons to veer off.
     
  5. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Chinese have been known to push for Chinese laborers in Chinese funded projects over local laborers. We have seen the same in India also, notable the Electrosteel project in Chattisgarh.

    In countries like Niger and Tanzania clashesproblems have cropped up on the issue of Chinese labour being deployed while the local labour is shunned.

    The Greeks have also let in a Trojan horse and the first casualty are the Labour Unions of the Port which Chinese are going to maintain and operate
     
  6. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    It is true that China is trying to increase it's foothold on Africa by investing a lot of money. However, the question is, where is China not investing? China has been investing heavily in the US housing market as well, especially since the recession. They will sure reap benefits when the market pick back up again. One advantage of a centralised administration like the PRC is that decisions are taken quickly and by experts and not the masses. There are no electorates to cater to, no minorities to be apeased and no hoot given to any NGO.

    While India's foray into foreign markets is largely spearheaded by private companies, China is going full steam ahead with it's own investments.

    Chinese insistence on having a significant number of Chinese 'unskilled' workers in the various projects it undertakes around the world has many advantages. Firstly, it creates jobs and part of the investment comes right back to China in form of labour wages. Secondly, the labourers get to work in a new environment and develop an understanding of work culture, apart from experience. Thirdly, China gets to plant spies among the labourers and gather valuable information regarding the project they are working on and the region in general.

    Although calling them a 'bully' would be a bit harsh, China is doing exactly what many other countries would like to do when there is an agreement between a very strong country and a weak one, i.e. an unequal treaty with strings attached. One has to live with that.
     
  7. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    South African trade unions are up in arms over visas granted to over 50 construction workers from mainland China who are building new premises for the Chinese consulate in Cape Town.

    But technically, they are not working in South Africa as the land on which the consulate is being built is considered to be Chinese territory, says the Department of Home Affairs.

    "That's probably how they got permission (to import foreign labour). Technically, they are not working in South Africa," said Rebecca Bowman of the Department of Home Affairs."

    Clever Tykes!
     
  8. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    If African governments allow a repeat of the Dutch disease syndrome that characterized earlier booms, then the opportunity may be frittered away like previous ones. If African governments misinterprets the freedom to independently choose their development paths to mean licence to continue squandering their resources on white elephant projects and stashing them away in foreign banks, then the outcome will be even more tragic and African development may be deferred for a very long time to come. Opportunities do not knock several times or in quick successions.

    Imports from China also presents its own opportunities and challenges. One of the opportunities provided by Chinese imports is their low prices and hence affordability, especially by the poor. Generally, some Chinese imports can be 75% cheaper than ‘equivalent’ imports from traditional sources and up to 50% cheaper than the locally
    produced substitutes. In a continent with weak purchasing power and high level of deprivations and poverty, this could be an opportunity to improve the livelihoods of the poor.

    Moreover, it can be argued that competition from Chinese imports may discourage extraction of super-normal profits from poor African consumers by the traditional trading partners and local producers many of who collude and pursue predatory business practices. It can also encourage the producers of local substitutes to be more efficient and pass on the benefits of such efficiency to the consumers more readily.

    Finally, Chinese imports, especially in small African economies, can create a more enabling macroeconomic environment. Cheap imports of consumer goods that feature prominently in
    the consumer expenditure can help in reducing inflationary pressure. It may also contribute to higher revenue inflow if the total volume of imports is enlarged. It is also certain that revenues accruing from imports will, directly and/or indirectly, and ceteris paribus, result in improvement in government fiscal posture and reduce pressure on the monetary authorities to finance budget deficits.

    The challenges include assurance that the Chinese imports meet the various quality and safety standards. Another is the risk of emergence of Chinese monopolies in the medium to long term after which they may also embark on collusive and predatory business practices as well as extraction of monopoly rents just like the current operators. This is especially the case since majority of the Chinese enterprises are still state-owned or are closely tied to the
    central government or the various provincial governments and can be part of the global strategy of the Chinese state.
    Possibly more daunting is the challenge posed by cheap Chinese imports the already eroded industrial of many African countries. Specifically, if, as is already the case in South Africa and Nigeria, for example, Chinese imports are resulting in factory closures and the inevitable job and income losses, Chinese imports may intensify the de-industrialization process initiated by the liberalization policies embedded in the Structural Adjustment Programmes
    (SAP). See Wilson III, (2005), Shin, (2005) and Kaplinsky, et.al, (2006) for experiences of specific examples of how these situations have arisen in specific African countries.

    Perhaps more fundamental challenge is the fact that cheap Chinese imports may actually discourage diversification of the productive based of these African economies away from crude agricultural and mineral products towards manufacturing and eventually service or knowledge intensive activities. This is a real challenge because new investors may either find it unattractive to compete with cheap Chinese imports or find it unnecessary because
    Chinese imports are so large leaving no significant excess demand which new entrants can aspire to meet. In that case, instead of Sino-African trade partnership lending assistance to the transformation and development process in Africa, it will actually truncate it. This along with the de-industrialization effects of cheap Chinese imports will indeed reverse the gains of industrial development made during the fist two decades of independence in Africa.

    Waka Waka
     

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