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04/02/2007 | China and Africa - A cautious welcome

The Economist Staff

Already a seasoned visitor to Africa, Hu Jintao is back again. China’s president is on a 12-day tour of the continent taking in eight countries that began on Tuesday January 30th. This follows quickly (given the glacial pace of most diplomacy) after the first ever Sino-African summit in Beijing last November.

 

Both are obvious and public signs of the deepening relationship between Asia’s economic giant and resource-rich Africa.

China - AfricaIn the past couple of years the steady stream of Chinese leaders to Africa have enjoyed controversy-free safaris, basking in the adulation of African governments grateful for cheap loans and big investments. China’s share of sub-Saharan Africa’s trade with the world has risen steeply to 10% in 2005 (see chart), and that volume is expected to double by 2010. But there are signs that China’s easy ride in Africa may be coming to an end.

In Zambia, where China has big copper-mining interests, a candidate in last year’s presidential election promised, if elected, to chase out Chinese investors after lethal riots at a Chinese-controlled mine. In Nigeria, Chinese oil workers and engineers have joined Western counterparts in being kidnapped and ransomed by insurgents in the country’s Niger Delta region. And there have been protests in South Africa and Zimbabwe against cheap clothing imported from China. In Zambia and South Africa, both destinations on this trip, Mr Hu could face some unusually pointed questioning.

As usual Mr Hu is a man bearing gifts. These should help to damp down any overt African criticisms of China’s role in the continent this time. Before arriving, he announced soft loans worth another $3 billion and a doubling of aid to Africa over the next three years. Moreover, as China’s commerce ministry reiterated this week, this money comes free of any “political conditions”. This, probably more than anything else, is what makes Mr Hu popular with African governments. His largesse comes with no strings attached, unlike pesky Westerners who insist on anti-corruption drives or improving human-rights records in exchange for money. China’s hand-outs come without the tang of neo-colonial interference so disliked by many Africans.

The country that has probably benefited most from this Chinese attitude of political non-intervention is Sudan, and it is no coincidence that the Sudanese government is treating China’s leader to two whole days in which to enjoy the sights of Khartoum: poor Liberia got only a few hours of Mr Hu’s valuable time. China, of course, gets a lot of oil from Sudan—about 5% of its total exports come from Africa’s largest country. But China has repaid Sudan handsomely not only with the usual road-building projects, but also crucial diplomatic protection at the UN over the government’s war in the country’s western region of Darfur.

For over a year the UN has been trying to force the Sudanese government to accept a large peacekeeping force to end a conflict that has so far cost the lives of perhaps 300,000 people. But in the name of non-intervention China has stolidly supported Sudan’s efforts to block the deployment of UN troops, vetoing or abstaining from Security Council resolutions.

But in so doing, many people in the West—and in Africa—argue that China has become an accomplice to the Sudanese government’s mass murder, or even, as the American government has called it, genocide, of its own citizens. So China has come under strong diplomatic pressure to use its influence to force the Sudanese government to stop its so-called anti-insurgency campaign in Darfur, which is still killing hundreds of people every month, and to make it comply with UN resolutions.

So eyes will be on Mr Hu in Sudan. If China does start to put pressure on the government in Khartoum over Darfur, it could mark a profound turning-point in its relationship with Africa. As in Zambia and South Africa, China is finding out that there is a lot more to doing business with Africa than simply pumping out all the resources.

The Economist (Reino Unido)

 


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18/09/2009|
16/09/2009|
16/09/2009|
16/09/2009|
08/09/2009|
07/09/2009|
06/09/2009|
06/09/2009|
05/09/2009|
05/09/2009|
26/08/2009|
21/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
19/07/2009|
19/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House