Introduction: In the past decade China and Africa has increased its relations, where even the population of Chinese in Africa has increased to more than a million. This increase has raised alarms not only in the African community, but also the Western community. China has become a very dominant part of African trade, where it is the second highest trader with Africa, exchanging about $160 billion-worth of goods a year. China has also offered aid of many kinds, in the fields of agriculture, education, transportation, energy, communications, and health. More than one million Chinese have relocated to Africa mostly as traders and laborers. One would then pose the question, what are the intentions of China? Are their activities in Africa suspicious?
Court Case (Scenario)
Bailiff: This is case 4576, advocates for versus the advocates against the increasing presence of Chinese in Africa.
Westerners’ lawyer: Rumor has it that China is trying to colonize Africa and exploit its resources like its former western colonists. Jane Goodall, an animal rights activist made the statement that, “In Africa, China is merely doing what the colonialists did. They want raw materials for their economic growth, just as the colonists were going into Africa and taking the natural resources, leaving people poorer.”
African Leaders’ Lawyer: Yes, the Chinese want raw materials for their economic growth but, they do not force it from us, like what happened in the past, with our former colonists. The Chinese on the other hand help in development projects, which the former colonist never did. They have completed about 1,046 projects, built railways to a total of 2,233 kilometers, and laid 3,350 km of highways. There is no such thing as a free lunch we cannot expect them to have only our interest in mind without thinking about how they can also benefit from us. We all as leaders should put our countries first and make smart decisions which we would benefit from.
African workers lawyer: How, are we benefitting? China has been robbing our continent of its natural resources, bringing workers from their country instead of employing locals, not only that but, maltreating and under paying them. Recently, there were violent protests from local workers. Presently, African traders are complaining that Chinese traders are giving the natives unfair competition; cheaper, low quality Chinese products are entering the markets. Currently in Zambia and Tanzania, the complaints are that Chinese traders are in businesses meant for natives. A time has come where Africans must examine the reality on the ground. I would then ask, are we allowing the Chinese too much ground in our affairs? Policy makers should address these serious concerns.
Chinese Lawyers: Chinese see Africa as a place for opportunities for entrepreneurship which does not exist in our over populated country unfortunately. People complain about how we are taking the jobs from the Africans to the extent where some of us have to close down our businesses. Some Chinese businessmen are not very bothered about this because they are looking beyond Africa for other opportunities. In an interview with the Economist, a Chinese construction manager in Kenya, He Lingguo said “This is a good place for business but there are many others around the world”. He is hoping to move to Venezuela soon. China’s president has also promised to invest $250 billion in Latin America over the decade. So we are not only focusing on Africa, sorry but this is business.
Judge: I have heard the complaints of the plaintiff, where they believe that the Chinese only want to exploit and colonize Africa in the name of aid, and the defendants, who argue that China does not have bad intentions, where they have come to solely trade and help in Africa’s development. After hearing the sides of the Westerners’ lawyer, the African Leaders’ lawyer, the African Workers’ lawyers and lastly the Chinese’s lawyer.
My verdict is:
Only time would tell (只有时间会告诉).
By Gifty Mate-Kole & Roslynne Amoah.