China's investment in Africa suspected

Published: Tuesday 31 July 2007

Africa and China: Brothers in< (Credit: REUTERS)Increasing Chinese investment in Africa is being seen with suspicion, with complaints that China was treating Africa as a colony and supporting oppressive regimes in the continent.

In a three-day fair in July in Wuhan, capital of China's Hubei province, China and Africa agreed to co-operate in various sectors like construction, mine development, machinery and agriculture. The meet attracted around 500 Chinese industries and 21 African countries. They agreed to collaborate in more than 100 projects. This comes after China announced last month that it would invest us $1 billion in Africa. According to African Development Bank president Donald Kaberuka, Chinese investment in Africa may reach us $2 billion in 2007.

Chinese state oil companies have expanded aggressively, signing deals in Nigeria, Angola and Sudan.China promotes itself as a partner in Africa's development, meanwhile trying to secure oil and other resources and new markets for its exports. According to Gao Jian, vice-governor of the China Development Bank, Africa could be a big market for Chinese products that are no longer popular at home.

African countries have, however, complained that the growing Chinese competition threatened jobs and local industries like textiles. Human rights activists criticised China for supporting violence in Darfur and shielding Sudan, 70 per cent of whose oil was bought by China, which in turn sold arms to the Sudanese government.

Lately, Chinese aid to Africa was also on the rise aid to 43 African countries increased from us $347.6 million in 1990 to us $1.8 billion by 2002. Since Western aid to Africa is being given on conditions of good governance, Chinese aid was gaining popularity as it had 'no strings' attached. Over the last 50 years, China has invested in 800 aid projects in Africa. Its aid now also covers debt relief, tariff exemptions and peacekeeping efforts.

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