Is China colonizing Africa?
Is China colonizing Africa?
Let's be clear on what we mean.
Will we see Chinese military conquests of African lands? No
Will we see mass settlement and control of indigenous people? No
Will we see some immigration of Chinese people and economic influence and sometimes dependency? Almost certainly yes.
There are already significant numbers of Chinese immigrants in Africa. Some came temporarily, but some have come to stay.
"Africa is seen as El Dorado in China-more than a million Chinese have settled on the continent."Book Review: 'China's Second Continent' by Howard W. French
So it looks like the majority of answers are not a clear yes or no and there is a fair amount of debate on the meaning of colonisation. I don't want to get to tied up in that but let us look at what the Chinese are doing in Africa.
China are supplying cheap products to people who live below the breadline. This means that someone earning a meager salary can afford to wear "Nike" sneakers, or rather knockoffs and appear to be fashionable. The West will not appreciate the fact that a pair of genuine sneakers may be three months salary to some of the population.
Next the Chinese are sending their people here to operate businesses. Some time ago I heard of a Chinese person moving to South Africa and opening a shop. When asked what they were going to sell their response was that the would have to see when their container of goods arrived. The person had a shop etc setup for them but they would do what they have been told to do. This shows that it is much the same as the British did with the 1820 settlers to South Africa.
Next the Chinese are taking African resources back to China, processing them and supplying them back to Africa at a cheaper price than it could be worked in Africa. This is probably good for the world economy but at the end of the day the African resources are being plundered.
Why has the Dalai Lama never been granted a VISA to visit South Africa? Easy answer - this would cause too much conflict between the relations of the two countries (China & SA).
So to answer the question of whether China is colonising Africa, I would have to say no but then I would say that they are exploiting the conditions. However their are benefits to the people of Africa which have been clearly shown above, with the infrastructure that is being installed but it also allows African dictators to continue their reign over the people of Africa by giving them the resources.
Sadly this is not the fault of the Chinese but rather of the Africans. If it were not for the East doing so then the West would do the exploiting. Africans need to realise that they are not inferior and take the lead to become a people of their own right. For too long they have expected the West or the East to be their saviours. It is time for them to rise and become the great Africans they can be.
China is slowly starting to gain control of the African continent, no doubt. Any dominant economic power looking for opportunities to grow will leave colonizing footprint, China is no different. (Its entirely a different question as to whether colonisation is right or wrong which I think is needless to discuss here). Colonisation should be least of African people's worries. Instead ordinary citizens should be questioning why they aren't reaping the benefits of Chinese investment.
China's economic offensive in Africa began before the turn of the millennium. At first, it was very gradual and unassuming. But, since 2000, trade volumes between China and Africa have grown twentyfold, reaching $200 billion in 2012. China has surged ahead of the old major powers - France, the United Kingdom and the United States -- to become Africa's most important trading partner.
The Washington-based Center for Global Development estimates that, between 2000 and 2011, China provided about €75 billion in aid to Africa for a total of 1,673 projects, or roughly as much as the United States did in the same period. However, it is sometimes hard to tell where profitable investment ends and hidden motives begin. In return for developing the infrastructure, the Chinese receive lucrative licenses to exploit natural resources and fossil fuels. For instance, Angola, a war-torn and marginalized country until not too long ago, has become one of China's key oil suppliers, competing with Saudi Arabia for the top position.
The key difference between China and the West is that China is mainly interested in doing business and doesn't interfere in their internal affairs. China attaches no political conditions to economic cooperation, unlike the West, which, at least on paper, demands good governance, the rule of law, anti-corruption measures and protections for human rights. And Chinese state-owned companies operate with less bureaucracy, are faster and cheaper and, as a rule, provide financing for projects with low-interest loans from state-owned banks.
So the second scramble for Africa is well and truly ON!!
Yes.. But its not a take over that will involve China ruling over some African countries. Allow me to simplify the answer to this question in a complicated way.
Yes China is taking over African jobs. China has a very high population, and so their nation is trying to create jobs for them in Africa with the Help of African leaders who only care about themselves, so provided that they are invited to China and given some special "handouts" they come back and let more Chinese carry out jobs that can easily be done by Africans.
When China gives grants, it comes with conditions, in most cases you will find that if a road is to be constructed by that grant, then the contractor must be a Chinese. And nowadays one Chinese contractor will bring like 20more others fake engineers(I will explain more on this).
I was working on a road project as an intern, we had about 12 Chinese Engineers. I was earning $100 a month. Most of those Chinese Engineers were earning more than $10,000 a month, because they had about 10 years of experience in road construction and they are also foreigners. Although, I was actually more experienced than 11 of them. They only had 1 guy.. I repeat they only had 1 guy who was a Civil Engineer by profession. All the other 11 were fake Engineers but they had got registration as temporary Engineers in my country. They didn't know much about highway Engineering, they had no knowledge of road construction and they also knew only no and yes in English. So on a job site, which they were avoiding mostly but leaving it to local foremen, you could just find them say yes and no,, so its the local tradesman who is doing what he knows from the experience he has and when this guy tells him no then he may do it in another way he knows and this dude says yes.
When China gives a loan, it demands collateral, in case you fail to pay back, they will take over what you signed as collateral. This has already happened in Lusaka Zambia, where Kenneth Kaunda International Airport now belongs to China. There's this Pan Africanist called PLO Lumumba, he keeps on talking about decolonisation of the mind and also that we should be keen about the motives of the Chinese. So he was invited in Lusaka, Zambia to deliver his Lecture on China taking over African countries. When the plane touched down in Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, he was told that he is no longer allowed in Zambia because he is a security threat. I mean an African not allowed in an African country but Asians are allowed with open arms. So let me ask you this question, whom do you think was behind banning PLO Lumumba from entering Zambia where he had been before several times? Do you think it was the Zambian authority or the message came from the Chinese side? Because before the Chinese taking over the Airport, he used to go to Zambia and deliver his speeches. So is PLO Lumumba in Zambia a threat to Zambia or to the Chinese?
What is worse, they mistreat us in our own country, and call us monkeys How the Chinese man ended up calling Kenyans and President Uhuru monkey and still nothing can be done about it, our politicians they just say that let the Chinese be, that they are here to transfer skills to our youths. How can a person who hates you and sees another human as a monkey train you?
Africa as a continent we should stand on our own and avoid this scheming activities of the Chinese. China doesn't care about us because their Prime Minister to today, he still refers to Africa as a country when Africa has 54 countries. China is only interested in the interests of its Citizens, our African politicians are only interested in their interests and those of the Chinese, that's why they visit China a lot. We African Citizens we are on our own. I think its time we started electing leaders and not politicians.
The answer, as always, is it depends on who you speak to.
Being Chinese and having lived for the past three years on the continent and having travelled to most countries in Eastern, Southern, and Northern Africa before that I think its safe to say that the Chinese presence in Africa is just as multifaceted as its western counterpart, if not more. A nation of 1.4 billion people is not going to have the same agenda, no matter how much Xi wants it to be the case.
My family is from mainland China and I grew up in the States, went to school at an Ivy League college and a year spent at Beida. Now in Africa, doing consulting work.
There are several levels of answers to this question. Of course, on an international level, China is trying to leverage its financial reserves into more intimate political influence outside of its borders. Loans from the Export-Import Bank or the China Development Bank fund Chinese infrastructural projects across Africa, which many believe to be a win-win situation, Africa is getting the infrastructural that it badly needs, while China is providing a lifeline to its SOEs overseas. Chinese state-led investments have also meant that African states have remained close allies to China internationally, a trend that had started during the Cold War.
I've met the Chinese ambassador once, and he did mention that a large part of the embassy's efforts are to support China's state led directives on investments in Africa. Attached to the Chinese embassy you will often find a 经赞处, or economic affairs office (nominally under the Ministry of Commerce), the sole purpose of this office is to support Chinese companies, mostly SOEs, in conducting business overseas.
So in a mixture of the desire to create new markets in the face of a European/North American slowdown, as well as the desire to be more influential in international affairs, the Chinese government has been quite proactive in pursuing opportunities in Africa. In recent years, many of China's state-led financial institutions have been adapted to support industries and enterprises in going abroad, with Africa as one of the most prominent targets. Just check out institutions such as 国开行(China Development Bank)，口行(EXIM Bank)，中信保(Sinosure)，and 中非基金 (CAD Fund)
Of course, with many of the investment vehicles, there have been many difficulties. inadequate operational due diligence, over-optimistic IRR projections, political pressure and nepotism to preferred projects have all made these often a losing venture. The friends that I've spoken to at these institutions are well aware of their shortcomings compared to real Africa focused, market force driven funds, such as Abraaj, Actis, or Helios, but since the system is built strictly to support political directives, there is not much they or anyone can do.
The second big player in Africa from China, I would say, are State Owned Enterprises. SOEs represent the majority of the projects and funds invested in Africa, from railways to ports to power stations. The SOEs are what the Chinese call 体制内, or ‘inside the system,' which makes them beholden to the Communist Party and a vast bureaucracy. SOEs have specific KPIs to fulfill, and as a result, they have been more than efficient in building up African infrastructure, thanks to their experience working in China during the past 30 years.
Now this may be a gross generalization, but it seems to me that most people working for SOEs have no inherent interest in Africa, they just want to do a good job, get paid, and go home. Most live in their compounds, have been sent to Africa because they are junior, or would like to make more money. A Chinese construction worker, for instance, can make a few thousand USD a month working in Africa, a lot more than what he would be able to make back home. But of course, many come to Africa via a SOE, get a glimpse of the continent, and have decided to stay, which brings me to my next point.
Individual migrants either come to Africa as traders, or small time businessmen, light industry, restaurants, real estate speculation., etc are all common paths for Chinese entrepreneurs in Africa. The typical Chinese entrepreneur in Africa would be in their early 30s, came from a rural part of Sichuan or Hunan, speaks reasonable English, finished university/community college in China before joining a SOE or a relative's business in Africa, with dreams to make it rich. They typically congregate in the few Chinese restaurants after work, or at friends' houses, playing cards or watching the newest Chinese TV shows on youku or iqiyi, while complaining about being targeted by African authorities for corruption or something like that.
Your typical Chinese migrant in Africa will be part of the Chinese community in the local city, there will probably be a wechat group of several hundred people, where people share news, classifieds, and such. On first glance it appears to be a tight knit community, but the Chinese diaspora is actually one of the least integrated ethnic groups out there.
Your typical Chinese migrant will have mixed feelings about Africa. On the one hand, he will be homesick and unimpressed with the work efficiency and infrastructure and food; he will probably be weary of locals, have negative stereotypes, and maybe even a little racist...this I don't think is inherent, but rather due to a combination of the lack of education, inability to speak English, ignorance, and several bad experiences.
On the other hand, he will be truly impressed by the cleanness and natural beauty of the continent, the amount of freedom relative to China, and wanting to raise his children here because an English speaking education will help him or her go to a good university in America.
So in short, the state just wants to throw a lifeline to its export business, that's why its investing in Africa; SOEs have to do what they are here to do, so they can keep on advancing in the hierarchy, and ordinary Chinese people, they are just here to make some money, because its getting harder and harder to do in China.
This kind of question is prime example of how media brainwashing their clients.
If China colonizing Africa, why French Army still station in Mali while there is no Chinese base (as of now) station in Africa?
If China colonizing Africa, why no country in Africa adopt Chinese legal system rather than French, UK, or German legal system?
If China colonizing Africa, why African government officials seek bribe from Chinese rather than white people?
If China colonizing Africa, why Africans still feel they are inferior to Europeans?