Though the world financial crisis will impact trade between China and Africa, the crisis may also allow China to increase its influence in the country at a time when Western investment in Africa is declining.
Today, a South African navy ship is scheduled to make its first official visit to China, as part of a year-long celebration honoring 10 years of China-South African diplomacy.
China’s investment in Africa has grown exponentially in recent years, with the total value of trade between China and Africa increasing nearly 40 percent every year.
Despite Chinese officials characterizing the relationship as “win-win” proposition, there are questions about the effects of cheap Chinese goods on the African job market.
Recently, British conservative author Peter Hitchens penned a scathing article about China’s exploitation of Africans. He calls the relationship a “slave empire,” saying that Africans fear speaking ill of Chinese businessmen despite producing their raw materials in poor living conditions.
The “Tibet Rights” blog posts a response to Hitchens’ article, calling it hypocritical and reminding readers of the impact of Western intervention in Africa.
Grace Augustine argues on Stanford’s “Social Innovation Blog” that despite China’s claim of reducing poverty in Africa, poverty and inequality are not the same and Africa should be wary of China’s human rights record.
The blog “I have no tribe, I’m Sudanese” writes that China has helped Africa. The blogger defends China against colonization claims and says the relationship is mutually beneficial.
Blogger “Keeplefty” writes that while most reactions to China’s presence in Africa fall under categories of paranoia or praise, their real relationship falls somewhere in between.
American blogger David Mixner urges increased involvement in Africa to compete with China.
The “Windy Harbor” blog writes that the financial crisis may be an opportunity for Africa to more fully engage in the global economy.
As the debate continues, interest in Africa is on the rise elsewhere. The “China Comment” blog predicts that China will face competition from the U.S. and EU in South Africa, where it has deep economic and diplomatic ties. Alex Belida of “Regrets Only” discusses Iran’s interests in Africa, while Pambazuka News examines India’s role in the region.
Following a recent World Bank report [PDF] on China’s essential financing of sub-Saharan African infrastructure, the “African Politics Portal” blog assesses the thoroughness of the study and outlines the benefits and pitfalls of these Chinese investments.