Chinese people, goods, construction not welcome in AfricaPosted: July 22, 2012
In SCMP Teddy Ng’s report from Beijing today entitled “The Bigger Picture on Africa”, he says, “China’s ties with Africa have been largely based on trade and investment over the past decade. China, which by early this year had poured in direct investment of US$15.3 billion, is one of the major buyers of the continent’s oil and other resources.
“The trade pattern, along with allegations of labour rights violations, led to criticism that China is merely interested in extracting mineral wealth from Africa to feed its booming economy – which doesn’t fit Beijing’s mantra that the nation’s economic rise will not pose problems for others.”
Ng then quotes Chinese African affairs specialist He Wenping’s words “China is on track to becoming a major global power, and it needs some strategic partners.” “As China’s investment in Africa continues to rise, it is inevitable the country will become more influential in the continent.”
All Ng said is true, but he fails to give the larger picture behind that.
In the first half of the 20th century, Chinese people succeeded in establish colonies in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, etc. Those overseas Chinese made a fortune there from nothing. They kept Chinese culture and remained patriotic there. When China was invaded by Japan, their donations were a major source of funds for Chinese government. When China turned red, lots of their youngsters turned red too and returned to China to study in Chinese colleges. I had some overseas Chinese schoolmates from Indonesia when I studied at Anhui University.
The most amazing was that when China began to open to the outside world, they vied with one another to invest in China. Their investment accounted for 70% of the foreign investment in the initial years of China’s reform and opening-up.
The overseas Chinese could become rich abroad without any initial capital when China was very poor and backward. Now, lots of Chinese have become rich and want to find places for investment and expansion. Like the Chinese pioneers in South East Asia in the past, they are not afraid of the freezing weather in Siberia and North Korea or the heat in Southeast Asia. Lots of Chinese have gone there and are doing successful business there. The Chinese government is supporting them. It has been making great efforts to have good relations with Russia and Central Asian countries through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and with Southeast Asian countries through Asean.
True, China needs the natural resources from Africa, but it have a much greater need for outlet of its investment and especially human resources because of the difficulties in providing jobs for its huge population.
Africa seems the best virgin land for the establishment of Chinese colonies there in the same manner as overseas Chinese did in Southeast Asia in the past.
However, China does not seem to have a prospect to succeed in colonization in Africa. The Chinese who have done business or worked in Africa are all of the opinion that Chinese people are not welcome in Africa.
As for Chinese goods, they are notorious for their poor quality in Africa as due to the low purchasing power there, China exports cheap products with very poor quality to Africa. So is Chinese construction. Chinese contractors take projects at very low prices. In order to avoid losing money, they use substandard materials and become notorious for the quality of their construction.
There are in addition conflicts of culture between Chinese and African people. Having accepted European culture, African people are law abiding and pay great attention to hygiene while Chinese people still lack sense of rule of law and good hygiene.
The Chinese government may have good relations with African countries but Chinese people will not succeed in their colonization in Africa.