“We have turned east where the sun rises, and given our backs to the west, where the sun sets”. These strong Pro-China sentiments were made by President Mugabe on the occasion of Zimbabwe’s 25th anniversary of independence, and are shared by many heads of State across Africa. Zimbabwe represents one of 47 African countries supported by Chinese investments. The Chinese government is willing to aid and invest in high-risk African countries, expecting as little as 3% returns in comparison to the uncompromisable 15 % returns necessary for western investments. Africa is grateful for the concession because western donors and investors have long ignored investment in Africa’s infrastructure. Chinas willingness to facilitate and support the development of roads, railway lines, stadiums, dams, schools and hospitals as well as providing humanitarian aid for relief and emergency activities has made them an attractive partner for Africa. In addition, China’s interest in Africa has raised attention to the potential of Africa to the outside world. China’s demand for African assets has raised the value of these assets, sometimes through competitive over payment. This activity then releases more resources for local development. Obviously China is having a big impact on Africa. However the inequality of the relationship is very clear, although China is very important to Africa’s economy, Africa only accounts for a small percentage of China’s international trade. What are the additional motives of the Chinese government for investing in African countries? The importance of Africa for China
Since 2000, President Hu Jinto and Premier Wen Jiabao have between them made over eight visits to 17 African countries encouraging and supporting greater Chinese investment in Africa. China has sought diplomatic support in Africa since the 1960’s and then renewed support in 1989 after the Tiananmen Square incident. China has instigated a deliberate policy to engage with countries less critical on human rights issues and having shared experiences of western colonialism. The One China policy, in which China encourages, blocking Taiwanese membership to international organizations, such as the WHO; and the continuous uphill battle China Faces with the UN criticizing China’s human rights record with respect to Tibet, relies on Africa’s diplomatic support. With China’s growing economy, it has grown by an average of over 9% per annum for the last 25 years, it faces the challenge of obtaining sufficient raw materials, with respect to energy in particular. Africa represents an area of newly-developed oil and mineral resources not controlled by Western countries, most notably, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Sudan. A third importance is China’s global strategy, this involves the use of donations, generous loans and government support to Chinese companies, thus encouraging Chinese companies to internationalize and acquire overseas assets. Generally Chinese companies are not able to compete in established markets but Africa’s markets are strategically open and provide the Chinese with business training opportunities. Most notably, with the Beijing summit at the end of 2006, the Chinese governments’ intension seemed to be to imprint the contributions and opportunities from 23 different African countries onto the minds of the entrepreneurial Chinese population. The idea was not only to promote imports from Africa but also to stimulate Chinese business ideas and creativity for joint ventures on the continent. With a growing population of over 13% per annum and pollution issues, Chinese officials have estimated that over 300 million people need to be relocated from China. Africa provides that perfect location as lucrative deals are being struck to purchase its commodities – oil, platinum, gold, timber and minerals. New embassies are being built...