China in Africa

30 Apr

China has invested billions in aid and development Africa, but this Guardian feature tries to show a more comprehensive picture. In the past 10 years, China’s investment has totaled about US$75 billion, with much of it going into social projects. There are industrial projects, but the vast majority of projects, which are numbered for each African country on a map, are on thing like health, education and similar projects. Economics and diplomacy play a role of course: “Many of the cultural and sporting projects across the continent are probably “upfront sweeteners” to win government favour, a “downpayment” for future commercial deals, suggests Stephen Chan, professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.”

However does this mean there’s a big master Chinese plan to conquer and exploit Africa? “But Chan rejects the idea that China has a master strategy in Africa. “There are 54 countries in Africa. You’re off your head if you think there’s one single agenda.””

Interestingly, Chinese aid, while looked on with suspicion by some in the West and Africa, has been criticized by Chinese who wonder why this money can’t be used at home. But people quoted in the article explain, foreign aid, especially to Africa, has long been done by the PRC, and it’s more than a matter of being too generous but also that of winning friends and boosting relations. As it is, China only spends 0.07% of its GDP on foreign aid, well short of the 0.7% that developed countries agreed to (but few have actually achieved).

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