An op-ed piece by Dambisa Moyo in the New York Times takes a firm position that the role of the People’s Republic of China in Africa is a positive one. Moyo’s statement comes at a time of growing U.S., British and French military interventions resulting in massive destruction in Libya, Somalia and Ivory Coast.
Moyo states: “Despite all the scaremongering, China’s motives for investing in Africa are actually quite pure. To satisfy China’s population and prevent a crisis of legitimacy for their rule, leaders in Beijing need to keep economic growth rates high and continue to bring hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.” (New York Times, June 27)
“China needs arable land, oil and minerals. Pursuing imperial or colonial ambitions with masses of impoverished people at home would be wholly irrational and out of sync with China’s current strategic thinking,” asserted Moyo.
This is contrary to the aims of the Western imperialists toward Africa, which are carried out despite the U.S. and other NATO countries facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, with high unemployment and rising poverty for tens of millions.
A year ago, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited the southern African nation of Zambia and hypocritically stated that the U.S. was “concerned” that “China’s foreign assistance and investment practices in Africa have not always been consistent with generally accepted international norms of transparency and good governance, and that it has not always utilized the talents of the African people in pursuing its business interests.” (Reuters, June 10, 2011)
Clinton’s statement was made when the U.S. and its NATO allies were bombing Libya on a daily basis. Prior to the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, Libya was the most prosperous and stable country on the African continent.
Chinese government aids development
Zambian President Rupiah Banda refuted Clinton’s assertion, stating, “Our country has been in a close relationship with China since before independence [in 1964].” Banda said China had assisted numerous African states in dealing with the global financial crisis which originated in the United States.
Clinton made a statement in neighboring Tanzania warning that “a new colonialism in Africa from foreign investors and governments interested only in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves” was underway. Although she did not mention China by name, the implications were obvious. (China Daily, June 17, 2011)
Referring to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, as the site where China built its first railway for Tanzania and Zambia during the early 1970s under the leadership of Mao Zedong, China Daily said its government “invested in the project that has benefited the local people tremendously, and Chinese workers endured the extreme weather conditions and made huge sacrifices in completing this railway project in the most difficult terrain. That railway project sets China apart from Western nations that were involved in Africa earlier than China.”
Other scientific transfers of technology from China have the potential to address the agricultural crisis caused by drought and the expansion of the deserts in Africa. The Desert Control Research Institute of Gansu has dispatched scientists to Niger and Nigeria to implement a water resource preservation program sponsored by the Chinese government and the United Nations. (Xinhua, July 2) The Chinese scientists are doing research and training local personnel.
Zimbabwe has been negatively affected by sanctions imposed by the U.S., Britain, the European Union and Australia. The reason for this economic war is that the government initiated a comprehensive land reform program 12 years ago to take back 50 percent of the land stolen by Britain a century ago during the advent of colonialism.
The Western imperialists have denied trade and investment to Zimbabwe and have supported opposition forces bent on undermining land reform and national sovereignty. China has built strong economic ties to Zimbabwe, whose liberation movement it supported during the 1960s and 1970s during the war for independence against British settlers.
China has also defended Zimbabwe and Sudan when both countries were threatened with further sanctions by the U.N. Security Council. The imperialist states have continued their policies of opposing any genuine efforts on the part of African states to develop along the lines that serve the interests of the people within their societies.