The article I choose for this week’s topic deals with the ongoing occurrence of Chinese business involvement in Africa.  I was actually told about this phenomenon recently by a friend, so I was looking for an article specifically about the relationship between China and Africa.  Among the articles that I read, I picked this one from The Herald-Sun (a newspaper in North Carolina) because I think it provides a concise summation of some of the pros and cons for both China and Africa.  And there don’t seem to be many, or any, cons for China.

This article specifically mentions some Chinese-funded buildings in Malawi.  Among them are the Parliament building, a $100 million hotel and conference center,  and a soccer stadium.  While a decent amount of time China invests in countries in order to have a foothold to gain better and easier access to valuable natural resources, what I found particularly interesting is that China is also doing so in countries like Malawi, that don’t have the same bountiful resources.  This analysis by the author of the article, Michael Gerson (a longtime writer for the Washington Post), was that China’s goal is to establish themselves and a continent-wide power.

Basically, what has been referred to as “neo-imperialism” is China’s version of Western economic liberalism, open trade, and limited government.  By commissioning these projects in African countries, China gets to assert their presence while simultaneously stimulating their own economy.  (I also learned that more often than not, China would export its own workers to build the projects.  By now, then has been enough commentary by the African community that China has been pressured to hire African native workers as well.)  Perhaps even more significant than access to natural resources, by establishing a highly visible presence, China is more or less buying influence with governments.

For Africa, while they might benefit in the near future, it seems that for the long-term this is a bad precedent for them to be setting.  Nations that China is developing in get the glamor of some new buildings and possibly tourist attractors, but in the long run they will be drained of resources and potentially need to bend to pressures from a foreign government with a significant foothold throughout the entire continent.

This process will also have ripple effects felt outside of Africa.  As Marc mentioned in his post, 59% of Americans think of China as an economic threat.  If anyone wants some more extensive reading on what China is doing in Africa, they can check out this article from the Economist as well.

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8 responses »

  1. Jordi says:

    Did you invent the neologism “dominasian?” It could be a keeper!

  2. Jeff Galloway says:

    I watched a documentary on Wal Mart for a class last semester, and one of the things that I remember from it was the fact that China had begun outsourcing themselves. However, I had not heard of this connection to Africa. The documentary (can’t remember the name unfortunately) said that because of the lack of proper infrastructure in other developing Asian countries (such as Bangladesh), Chinese businesses have been having trouble finding places to outsource. It seems as though Africa’s economy can hold up better, at least so far.

  3. Paul Martin says:

    Alan Rovel? haha yea i think we took use of that word in different directions. might have to pick up a copy

  4. Marc says:

    Thanks for the link to my post. Very cool that we had kind of the same theme going on in our posts. What I think was pretty interesting was that part of China’s economic plan was basically to be the value of the yuan pretty low so that it would make for their products cheap imports for other countries. As a result, their economy has been growing at a fast rate and the consequence is that China is able to buy their way into a lot of other countries’ domestic issues. It’s a cool spin to see how this strategy has positive and negative effects on Africa’s economy, much like it does in the US, since they help finance our debt but kind of put us at their mercy in a way. It will be interesting to see in the future if this is an overall good thing for global economies and how China grows as they try to be a global powerhouse.

  5. Lindsay S. says:

    Paul, the article that I read for this blog posting was on the exact same topic. My article suggested one extreme viewpoint that China is actually aiming to ultimately colonize Africa. What do you think about this idea? I can see legitimate arguments on both sides because it’s plausible that certain Chinese businesses are just opting to make some extra profit in Africa but it’s also possible that the Chinese government has another motive: to become highly involved in Africa and to leverage that region to its benefit in further becoming a world economic power.

  6. […] Paul (Dominasian): Most hilarious unintentional reference.  Google the book title.  NSFW. […]

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