China is doing a good job in Africa

By Han Dongping (
Updated: 2011-06-17 12:36
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On June 11, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned in a speech in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, of a creeping "new colonialism in Africa from foreign investors and governments interested only in extracting natural resources to enrich themselves." Hillary Clinton did not mention China by name, but any observer of international politics would recognize what Hillary Clinton was driving at in her speech.

The most ironic thing is that Hillary Clinton apparently does not know the significance of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in the history of China-Africa relations. It is the site where China built its first railway for Tanzania and Zambia.

The Chinese government invested in the project that has benefited the local people tremendously, and Chinese workers endured the extreme weather conditions and made huge sacrifices in completing this railway project in the most difficult terrain. That railway project sets China apart from Western nations that were involved in Africa earlier than China. It was also the starting point of China's friendship with Africa and the African people. Even by Hillary Clinton's standards, China's action in Africa has been exemplary.

In the past few years, Western media has been denouncing China's activities in Africa as resource grabbing, no different from former Western colonialism and neo-colonialism. The truth of the matter is, China did not treat the African people as second-class citizens, and China did not cause any population declines in Africa, as Western colonialism has done in the past.

China waived most debts African nations owed to China. China invited every African nation to a summit in Beijing to discuss how China and Africa could cooperate and develop together.

However, it does not matter what China is doing in Africa. The Western media is always able to find fault with China and to pick on China's activities in Africa.

Despite Western media's bias against China's activities in Africa, it seems that African people are embracing China's role in Africa now.

Recently, I was invited to give a talk at Ohio State University on China's future. At the airport, I got into a taxi. The driver asked me if I was Chinese. When I answered yes, he said that China was family. He would give me a ten-dollar discount.

I was surprised by his words. I asked him where he came from. He told me that he was from Ethiopia. In fact he was a former general in Ethiopia. American government brought him to the US, hoping he would work for the US in East Africa. He said that he refused. He just wanted to live a simple life. That is how he came to be a taxi driver in Columbus, Ohio.

He said that America and the West were crying now because they had lost Africa to China. China is building factories in his motherland, and other African nations, which are beneficial to African people. Even South Africa, which has strong ties with Great Britain, is turning to China now. The African people and African nations have finally learned by comparison and contrast that what China can offer them is a much better deal.

Last summer at a plant that produces agricultural trucks and tractors and other machinery in Shandong, China, I met two Canadian engineers who were there looking for a business partnership with the factory. I volunteered to interpret for their negotiation with the Chinese side.

During the negotiation, the Canadian engineers told the Chinese managers that the Chinese technology was 40 years behind that of the West. They would be able to help China upgrade their products. The Chinese managers told them that they did not need upgrading now. Their customers in China and in other Third World countries could not afford the high tech yet. He told the Canadian engineers that China’s backwardness was actually its strength. The poor farmers in China and other Third World countries can afford their technology. Because of the low price and easy maintenance, their products are sold well both abroad and domestically.

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