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        Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
        Thursday, May 04, 2006
        East-West pull on Africa
        Photo credit: Africa Business
        Two news items which show the contradictions of international foreign aid prompted this post. First, BBC reported that the Dutch suspended aid to Kenya because they can’t bare the corruption in Kenya. Then, The Seattle Times tells us that China’s Hu was visiting Kenya and openly said that China is not going to meddle with Africa’s internal affairs.

        In our dealings with African countries, we follow the principle of noninterference in other countries' internal affairs," Hu said. "We stand ready to develop a new type of partnership featuring political mutual trust.

        There you have it!

        To win China’s approval however, African countries should slightly meddle with China’s internal affair and deny the sovereignty of Taiwan.

        In exchange, Kibaki promised to adhere to perhaps the most critical diplomatic plank in Chinese foreign policy — the "one China" principle, not recognizing the sovereignty of the island of Taiwan. No oil has been discovered in Kenya, but by agreeing to explore in six locations in northwest Kenya and in the Indian Ocean, China signaled both its hunger for new energy sources and its willingness to invest in areas of Africa that Western interests have largely ignored.

        How twisted!

        Aid ain’t free – get over it!
        Long blogs ago, I said that aid has never been free. And it will never be. Therefore, we shouldn’t waste time even thinking, let alone write, about China's benefit from Africa… Of course! The benefits are not just raw materials and a good dumping ground for cheap Chinese stuff, but also politically. China is gathering the support of most African countries to have more political leverage internationally - within the UN, for example.

        What we should concentrate on is what can be done with our own leaders! If African leaders were half way decent and if the political environment in the continent were conducive, aid would have improved a thing or two in Africa. Alas, we have corrupt, greedy, uncaring dictator monsters. Why should Hu care about Kenyans if Kibaki doesn’t?

        A sigh of relief
        Since John Githongo exposed the corruption within the Kenyan government, Kibaki’s government has been scrambling to clear its name. Desperate Kibaki even sought some divine intervention for the problem.

        Now he can sleep better because he can safely forget about good governance and human rights altogether.

        Most of Africa has greeted China's rising involvement as a welcome alternative to the United States and former colonial powers in Western Europe. In recent years, many Africans have come to resent conditions often placed on Western foreign aid, including adherence to good governance and human-rights practices.

        Worrying signs
        Although Chinese involvement in Africa is centuries old, the worrying fact is that the current fast paced Afro-China affair is going to sniffle out the battle for good governance and human rights – the keys to African development. With no outside pressure for good governance and human rights – yes, I am convinced that our politicians are not capable of self-rule – the type of development coming from China is going to be a few factories here, a few roads there, some fancy bridge in the middle of nowhere and African elite educated in Chinese.

        Chris Meliville and Olly Owen at Open Democracy must know something that I don’t to at least be enthusiastic about the “south-south cooperation” to say that it “may be more efficient and less wasteful than the west’s grand gestures – but it is no less self-interested.” My own emphasis, and rightfully so.

        This is not the first time for “south-south cooperation”. During the cold war, communist governments poured millions in Africa and all that was wasted. If sponsoring wars, keeping the poor poor(er), fueling corruption and killing the economy is not wasteful, then I don’t know what is.

        Are we, by the way, going to see Cold War style East – West pull on Africa? Oh boy! Perhaps it can be called the Warm War because China-America relationship is cosier than it was during the Cold War and this one is all about money.

        Blog posts on Afro-China affair
        Global Voices Online: African bloggers responded to the rise of China in Africa
        Jewels in the Jungle: China in Africa: The CNOOC Nigerian Oil Deal
        Coming Anarchy: Handicapped by values: the West vs China in Africa
        posted by Fikirte @ 12:12 PM   Digg!
        • name<="c114691563387155778" id="c114691563387155778">

          At 7:40 AM, Blogger Black River Eagle said…

          Thanks for the "Hat Tip" Fikirte and from what I've read so far on your blog today this is gonna be a blog to watch. I like your writing style and the diversity of subjects you cover.

          In regards to the Africa-China foreign policy and private sector investment debate, I published an update post on the subject a few days ago and more will follow shortly. Pay particular attention to what Jennifer Brea of and Africabeat is saying (ref: my comments section) as she is quite up-to-speed on China and has very different viewpoints on the issue of Africa-China relations. Also see Chippla's latest blog posts about China in Angola and in Africa in general.

          The following statement in the Seattle Times article you referenced re: President Hu's visit to Kenya caught my attention:

          "Most of Africa has greeted China's rising involvement as a welcome alternative to the United States and former colonial powers in Western Europe. In recent years, many Africans have come to resent conditions often placed on Western foreign aid, including adherence to good governance and human-rights practices."

          If that is true then it would be a disturbing reality and could provide grounds for some nations to scale-back both development aid and private sector investment for certain sub-Saharan African countries. I wonder if that statement is true (and verifiable) or just something that the authors of the piece wrote for effect? What do you think?

          Give me a Heads Up when you respond to my question, in case I forget...:-)

        • name<="c114716862030810963" id="c114716862030810963">

          At 5:57 AM, Blogger Fikirte said…

          Thanks BRE especially for the positive comment about the variet of topics. I was beginning to feel that my blog site is all over the place. I can now rant away without guilt about issues that I care about.

          Regarding China in Africa: when I started wrting this post my intentions were to show that the combination of East-West foreign aid policies is perhaps the best for Africa. I still believe that. But the cold war symptoms got the better of me and I ended up focusing on that.

          I will check out the sites (including yours) and see if it is worth posting another article with the argument that the mixture of Chinese-Western policies are the best for Africa.

        • name<="c114726256299035300" id="c114726256299035300">

          At 8:02 AM, Blogger Black River Eagle said…

          Follow that link to Chippla's "China in Angola" post referenced in my latest "U.S.-China Relations" post. A Chinese (PRC) national has joined in the comment thread and has offered some interesting insights into the issue(s).

          African citizens and their leaders have to decide what is best for their own countries. I think Shay said it best over at Booker Rising:

          "Africa doesn't need to look to the East or the West... Africans must start by first looking within themsleves."

        • name<="c114804982361618532" id="c114804982361618532">

          At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

          A very good blog, this post in particular. Chinese involvement in Africa is especially worrysome for me.

          They have often "meddled" in the affairs of African countries, often by means of supplying weapons to anti-west military organisations or dictators. Two such cases jumps to mind: That of a certain mansion that was built for Mugabe along with the provision of signal-jamming equipment, as well as the provision of arms to the communist-orientated Umkhonto we Sizwe during the South African border wars.

          Below follows an extract from a blog that I regularly read:

          " Who funds Africa's opressors?
          Gold. The driving force behind human misery. Corruption, greed and war is just some of the notorious results of gold. Does it then come as a surprise that the continent that has the most gold, and even more precious minerals, is also the continent that is plagued by misery the most?

          One can of course argue that Africa was miserable before the discovery of gold, and that African misery is rather the cause of more inherant shortcomings, such as cultural flaws or even race. Although it might be true to some extent, that type of argument, on its own, falls rather short, since it is not only blacks but also European-Africans who constantly falls victim to misery. The Boer-Afrikaners is one such example, being targeted for genocide at least two times (firstly during the Anglo Boer war by the British, and now by the ANC). Those who are familiar with the Anlgo Boer War would know that this war was ignited by the Imperialist British Government's greed for South Africa's minerals.

          Numerous African governments have been made and toppled (by non-African countries) in order to take control of this continent's mineral wealth. During the last few decades, the communist countries such as Russia, China and Cuba have displayed a growing interest in Africa. Many wars in Africa have been fought with communist-supplied weapons, the weapon of choice being the Russian AK-47. The west, whose investments in Africa have been mainly through companies such as Anglo American, have slowly but surely lost control of it's mineral-investments to the Chinese.

          More recent power-plays for Africa's wealth by the Chinese government includes strengthening trade-relations with Southern African countries, including Zimbabwe. One often wonders why Mugabe has not yet been overthrown, not only because of the atrocities he is committing, but also because the opposition party (MDC) has the majority of the western-countries' support. The not-so-obvious is the aid that he has received from the Chinese-government. Aid would include things like building him a new palace, scrambling opposition radio-transmissions and more dark tactics. In return, of course, they get to lay their hands on Zimbabwe's rich mineral deposits.

          One can only wish that one day a few world leaders, who aren't obsessed with mineral wealth, will come to the rescue."

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