China is doing a good job in Africa

By Han Dongping (
Updated: 2011-06-17 12:36
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Western media and politicians tend to portray China's action in Africa as immoral, because it does not scrutinize the human rights records of the country it works with, as if the West really cared about human rights in Africa.

American politicians have the arrogant tendency to act as self-appointed guardians of human rights in other parts of the world. They are quick to judge other peoples' practices as a violation of human rights without fully understanding the implications of the concept of human rights.

Over my teaching career, I observed how students from different countries react to the concept of human rights. I have some African students in my class. When we discuss African politics, some American students would say that female genital circumcision in Africa is disgusting. African students would retort: Why when we do it, it would be disgusting, and when you do it, it would be fine. They are referring to the male circumcision in the West.

China's refusal to impose any arbitrary human rights standards on any nation is exercising a different kind of morality. Who in this world needs somebody else to make moral judgment about its internal affairs?

China is in Africa to make money and make friends. It is not there to lecture people and pick on people. China should concede to the West on human rights issues: Let the West do what it is best at, and preach to other nations about human rights. At the same time, China should do what it can do best: help African people build and improve their life. China should adhere to its diplomatic principle of non-interference in other nations' internal affairs.

The African nations will be able to figure out who is their good friend in the end. I do not think that African governments and African people need Hillary Clinton, or anybody else for that matter, to lecture them about how they should act in their own land. They know what is best for themselves and who are their real friends.

The cooperation between China and African nations will have profound implications for world politics and world peace. Our world will be made a much better place through peaceful cooperation rather than military intervention and political sabotage.

Han Dongping is Professor of History and Political Science at Warren Wilson College, NC. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the China Daily Website.

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