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Assessing China’s Role in Africa: A search for a new perspective Firoze Manji

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Presentation on theme: "Assessing China’s Role in Africa: A search for a new perspective Firoze Manji"— Presentation transcript:


2 Assessing China’s Role in Africa: A search for a new perspective Firoze Manji



5 Rational and nuanced approach Threats Opportunities From an African, rather than Northern, perspective

6 China-Africa relationships Over 3000 years old - evidenced by ceramics in Timbuktu, Sahel, Great Zimbabwe and Mozambique 15th Century imperial fleet led by Admiral Zheng visited east Africa while on his global circumnavigatory expedition Today portrayed as the potential domineering force in Africa

7 Mythologies of China not new China is a sleeping giant. Let her lie and sleep, for when she awakens she will astonish the world. Napoleon Bonaparte, 1803





12 Nature of China’s engagement with Africa New imperial ogre? Alternative paradigm of engagement? South-South partner? Different model of development? Exploiter with no regard for human rights? Voracious destroyer of the environment?

13 Conditions for China’s entry Structural adjustment & liberalization Failed promises: ‘tightening belts’ Aid, trade, investment conditional Decline in the real wage Opening up Africa’s markets (globalization) Washington Consensus opened Africa for China

14 Conditions for China’s entry No history of colonization No history of sponsoring coups No history of assassination of African leaders

15 China in Africa: 3 dimensions Foreign direct investment Aid Trade

16 FDI outflows from China

17 FDI flows to Africa remain low

18 China FDI flows to developing world

19 FDI and China Only 3% of FDI outflows from China go to Africa China is one of the world’s top recipients of FDI: nearly $72 billion and stock of $318 billion

20 Comparison of FDI in Africa

21 Greenfield FDI projects Of 126 greenfield FDI projects in Africa, Indian companies accounted for the largest number Malaysian companies dominate in mineral extraction

22 China’s FDI outflows to Africa

23 Africa is one of the richest continents in the world …

24 China as exporter - comparison

25 Trade and China Significant growth in trade $11 billion in 2000 $40 billiion in 2005 9% annual growth rate 5-fold increase in 10 years

26 Trade: China in 3rd place No 1: USA No 2: France No 3: China

27 Africa exports to China Oil Iron ore Cotton Diamonds Logs Volume of trade comparable to trade with India

28 Imports from China Mainly clothing and textiles: Sudan Ghana Tanzania Nigeria Ethiopia Uganda Kenya

29 Oil China net importer of oil since 1993 China is 2nd largest consumer of petroleum products … USA remains the largest consumer, with 25% of its requirements destined to come from Africa by 2009

30 Source of oil for China Middle East 40% Africa 23% Asia 21% Latin America destined to become big: engagement with Columbia, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp (Sinopec)

31 Impact of imports

32 Aid and China 2006 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: 1. Double aid to Africa by 2009 (to $1 bn) 2. $5 bn fund for Chinese investment in Africa 3. Preferential loans ($3 bn) & buyers credits ($2 bn) for trade 4. Debt cancellation for 31 HIPCs & LDCs ($1.4 bn) 5. Train 15,000 African professionals, etc. 6. Build 30 hospitals, 30 malaria treatment centers, 100 rural schools 7. Open special economic zones in 3 to 5 countries

33 US fears The most serious worry for the US was expressed by the spokespersons of the IMF and World Bank who complained that China’s unrestricted lending had ‘undermined years of painstaking efforts to arrange conditional debt relief’. Concerned that China could now offer favourable loans to Africa and weaken imperial leverage over African economies. (Horace Campbell 2007)

34 A non-prescriptive approach? ‘China’s official development discourse is explicitly non-prescriptive, employing a language of ‘no strings attached’, quality and mutual benefit. It emphasises the collective right to development over the rights-based approaches focused on individual rights. Once the dust settles on the current China-in-Africa fever, and notions of China’s exceptionalism wear off, all involved will need to harness hopes to realistic vehicles in order to make the most of the current potential.’ Daniel Large (2007)

35 Potential for development? ‘... there is no doubt that Chinese investments in Africa are having and could continue to have some positive impacts. China is helping African countries to rebuild their infrastructure and providing other types of assistance to agriculture, water, health, education and other sectors. This could have very positive spin-offs in lowering transaction costs and assisting African governments to address social calamities such as poor health services, energy crisis, skills development, etc.’ John Rocha (2007)

36 Environmental damage ‘while China’s investments do involve socio- economic development, environmental and social problems are emerging ‘with a new face’. Chan-Fishel looks at Chinese interests in Sudan, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimababwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Liberia. ‘Chinese companies are quickly generating the same kinds of environmental damage and community opposition that Western companies have spawned around the world.’ Michelle Chan-Fishel 2007

37 Human rights and environment Support for repressive regimes “non-interference in internal affairs” Any worse than Western governments?

38 Hypocrisy of the West What I find a bit reprehensible is the tendency of certain Western voices to start making obstructionist [statements] or start raising concerns about China’s attempt to get into the African market because it is a bit hypocritical for Western states to be concerned about how China is approaching Africa when they have had centuries of relations with Africa, starting with slavery and continuing to the present day with exploitation and cheating. Kwesi Kwaa Prah

39 Conclusion China’s capitalism has similar demands to Western counterparts Scale of its intervention is small in comparison to those of European and North American powers

40 China & USA China’s engagement cannot be understood independent of the imperial expansion of the US in the global economy. “Chinese production and American consumption,” writes Walden Bello, “are like the proverbial prisoners who seek to break free from one another but cannot because they are chained together. This relationship is progressively taking the form of a vicious cycle.”

41 Conclusion ‘Perhaps the material distinction is not between Chinese capital and Western, but rather between the merely rapacious, and the more sophisticated. Each of these are not two separate categories, but at least as much two different faces, each of which may be presented as convenient.’ (Stephen Marks 2007).


43 Thank you



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