China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing's Expansion in Africa

China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing's Expansion in Africa

Serge Michel, Paolo Woods

Language: English

Pages: 336

ISBN: 1568586140

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


China has now taken Great Britain’s place as Africa’s third largest business partner. Where others only see chaos, the Chinese see opportunities. With no colonial past and no political preconditions, China is bringing investment and needed infrastructure to a continent that has been largely ignored by Western companies or nations.

Traveling from Beijing to Khartoum, Algiers to Brazzaville, the authors tell the story of China’s economic ventures in Africa. What they find is tantamount to a geopolitical earthquake: The possibility that China will help Africa direct its own fate and finally bring light to the so-called “dark continent,” making it a force to be reckoned with internationally.

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financial backing from the Exim Bank of China. Such fulsome support gave Chinese businesses the confidence to look for invitations to bid for contracts that would be hard to differentiate from developmental aid projects. Yuan’s official history, meanwhile, censures the West for its actions during this period. Since 1991, it says, the United States and Great Britain have, in their customary deceitful fashion, made democratic progress a condition of financial aid, a stance that’s considered

thumb once on the circular saw. They didn’t pay me anything. Not even medical costs. Anyone who’s more seriously injured is sacked.” “And what about when this project is finished? Is there more work?” “There’s no contract. Once a project is done, it’s done.” “And are you charged for your meals?” “Of course. A meal costs $1.12. And transportation costs that much, too. We only take home about $1.80 a day.” “What about vacation?” “You don’t work, you don’t get paid.” Despite these conditions,

have failed to nurture their own technological and engineering capabilities and have allowed such infrastructure as was left behind by the colonial powers—arguably the only genuinely positive part of their legacy—to deteriorate. Their people are increasingly unhappy with the pitiful state of public services, and so African governments have relatively recently started spending the proceeds of the resource boom by paying China for the construction of highways, railroads, houses, utilities,

tank, has estimated that if the price of a barrel of oil stays around the fifty-dollar mark, then over a trillion dollars in revenues—twice the amount that Africa has received in Western aid in the past fifteen years—could make its way into the coffers of countries along the Gulf of Guinea.6 With such a prize at stake, and without many options, China has chosen to use checkbook diplomacy to forge relationships with Africa. This, very broadly, entails the financing of enormous infrastructure

insanely—long hours on their workers, so that they might finish the current contract in record time in order to move on to the next one. Their Angolan backers require such commitment because, for instance, they need houses not only to make up for those that weren’t being built during the civil war but also to fuel their property speculations. And the flames have been fanned by a deluge of petrodollars that has swept into the country since 2005. In 2007, the economy was growing at a rate of 27

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