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Hu reassures Africa?

February 10, 2009

If anyone in Africa was worried that the global financial crisis might dim China’s interest in the continent, President Hu Jintao will be visiting this week to give some reassurances – as well as possibly to temper any unrealistic hopes for the amount of assistance to be expected.

As Chris Buckley reported from Beijing, this visit is also about China showing the wider world that it is a responsible power.

The fact that none of the countries Hu will visit is among Africa’s economic or resource heavyweights – Mali, Senegal, Tanzania and Mauritius – is seen as a sign that China wants to send a message that its engagement with Africa is about much more than resources.

Trade between China and Africa rose to $107 billion last year and more deals are expected on this visit. Nearly all of Africa’s exports to China still come from a handful of countries rich in oil or minerals, though, and now the global downturn has put those in more doubt.

China’s involvement in Africa is a subject we looked at recently. Alistair Thomson in Dakar found that even if some Chinese investments in Africa were losing their lustre, many Chinese firms were taking a longer-term view to pursue strategic expansion – and some were hunting for bargains. For China, Africa also offers an important destination for exports, as any visit to even the most remote African marketplace will quickly show.

Growing trade relations with China were one of the things seen by Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo in a previous blog post as a way for Africa to emerge better off from the financial crisis and less dependent on Western aid.

But China’s involvement in Africa has brought concern from some in the West – quite apart from those who may stand to lose out on the business front – with some critics saying Beijing’s interest is too focused on the drive to secure resources and pays little heed to the kind of thing that Western donors say they want to promote, such as elections, human rights and the fight against corruption.

Will Africa be able to depend on China in the long term? How healthy is that going to be? What do you think?

Pictures: Money changer Kwami Longange poses for a portrait on a streetcorner in Goma in eastern Congo, February 9, 2009. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly

China‘s President Hu Jintao delivers a speech in Beijing December 31, 2008. REUTERS/Jason Lee


Africa is cronically unstable , politically. China is an option for rescue at some hard times. At such, we cannot consider long term political forecasting when it comes to Africa. I hope that the Chinese could make the profit they expect .

Posted by Unity | Report as abusive

Frankly, as far as elections are concerned, do we have to be proud that Adolf Hitler and George W Bush WHERE democratically elected ?

Face it, democracy (and dramatically more so as the governed amount rises) is only another word for BEAUTY contest, as groups of people DO NOT THINK as individuals do …

The political system in China is not philosophically perfect, but it WORKS at producing pretty good ideas !!!

Posted by John D. Rockefeller | Report as abusive

Africa and Africans cannot afford to trust anybody again. What we also cannot afford to do is to isolate ourself, the watchword here is caution, extreme caution. Talks of elections, human rights and the fight against corruption are simply smoke screen primarily for the furtherance of western interests with interest of Africa and Africans been secondary. Where are the monies stolen from Africa kept? In European banks! America demonstrated its double standard by its romance with Libya…Libya is actually not bad, except for allegedly sponsoring terorism which it has long given up, except that it kept thwating American/Europe interests. Libya is not democratic, is it? African countries should watch out that China does not subvert their interest for commercial interest and profit.

Posted by Kola Atolagbe | Report as abusive

Please note that while GW Bush was elected (twice) he failed to win the popular vote the first time and the electoral system broke down the weighted regional voting system was so close. The supreme court had to stop the counting of votes and pick a winner.

Hitler, despite a popular misconception, was neither popularly elected nor won a majority of German votes (at least not until AFTER he’d taken power and rigged the system). He was jobbed into power by a backroom political deal by conservative parties who thought they could control him in a minority government.

This is important why? If you’re going to throw out democratic principles based on two notorious examples of political systems in which democratic principles are ignored, then you might first try a better, more direct democracy. People have the right to rule themselves, and Africans have the same human rights (including food, shelter, dignity, and self rule) as everyone else. Accepting an either/or deal is where both the West and China went wrong: don’t replicate our mistakes.


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