Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

China and Africa

Posted by w_thames_the_d on March 27, 2011

From The Beijing Consensus- (Stefan Halper)

Like the West in another era, China’s African presence most often benefits the elites and oligarchs in these societies, not ordinary citizens.45 If you run an African country with natural resources, you’ve got a friend in the East who will write big checks with no embarrassing questions (which is different from Shell in Nigeria, for example, which is subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act). This is good for leaders, but not necessarily good for their misgoverned people.46 China’s strict refusal to act in ways that would, in its view, violate a country’s sovereignty has meant China has remained apart from such issues as civil liberties, rule of law, human rights, and democratic governance. For precisely this reason, relations have soured between Chinese officials and some African populations, with a widening gap in China’s popularity between popular and official levels in Africa. Large Chinese corporations and state-owned enterprises are often followed by an influx of Chinese trading shops and small retailers providing a full range of services, from clothing emporiums to restaurants to bordellos. These supporting networks frequently undermine the local economy and drive out traditional suppliers with low-cost, low-quality goods. It is far from a level playing field: The Chinese businesses in Africa enjoy numerous advantages, including easy access to finance and supplies in China, and the benefit of diligent workers.

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