China has no colonial designs on Africa

Updated: 2011-12-09 07:37

By Hu Yinan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China on Thursday said it is not responsible for imposing "actually existing" neo-colonialism on Africa, dismissing earlier reports by certain Western media outlets.

"China has always insisted upon a policy of self-sufficiency in grain. Instead of purchasing piles of land in Africa, it has, to the best of its ability, offered aid in agricultural technology to African countries and helped their agricultural production, as well as boosted the indigenous exploitation of their own natural resources and the capacity to cope with climate change and food security," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

There is a broad consensus among African nations that China is not pursuing a neo-colonial strategy in Africa, Hong said.

He cited South African President Jacob Zuma's earlier statement that Beijing is not colonizing the continent, but rather is a strategic partner and vast contributor to improving livelihoods in his country.

"Africa is victimized by agricultural neo-colonialism. It is the common responsibility of the global community to facilitate the sustainable development of African agriculture," Hong said.

"China urges countries that have taken up and exploited vast amounts of land in Africa to make concrete moves so as to contribute to resolving the issue of food security in Africa," he added.

China is Africa's top trading partner, with bilateral trade growing more than 1,000 percent between 2000 and 2010.

During her visit to Zambia in June, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indirectly accused China of imposing "new colonialism" in Africa.

The West "seems unwilling, or unable, to respond" to changes in Africa, Francis Njubi Nesbitt, a professor at San Diego State University, wrote in an analysis for the Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online website on Wednesday.

"The United States and Europe seem stuck in neocolonial perspectives that continue to paint Africa as an impoverished backwater that at most deserves sympathy and at worst contempt," Nesbitt wrote.

"China has also funded infrastructure and industrialization projects that the West has refused to fund since the days of colonialism. It is to be hoped that these projects will finally help Africa modernize - a dream that seems attainable for the first time since independence."

In a related development, China's Special Envoy for African Affairs Liu Guijin is visiting Sudan and South Sudan to promote talks between the two countries on their dispute regarding oil.

Oil-rich South Sudan became an independent country in July, but is still locked in a series of negotiations with its northern neighbor.

Last week, Sudan said South Sudan owes it $727 million for four shipments of oil released and transferred through oil installations in the north since the latter's independence.

South Sudan, in response, warned it would stop producing oil if Sudan continued to make these demands.

Oil is primarily produced in the south and is exported through a pipeline and harbors in the north.

Beijing has said it is concerned that the negotiations had stalled. Earlier this week, Hong said Beijing expects "both sides to exercise calm and restraint, resolve disputes through consultations and negotiations and safeguard peace between north and south Sudan".

Luo Xiaoguang, China's ambassador to Sudan, last week said there was no reason to stop the oil exports as long as negotiations were ongoing between the two countries.