University of Science & Technology
Yan Hairong, University of
(Please cite only with permission of authors)
discourse of China-in-Africa has emerged in the past few years and is
most prominent in the main Western countries, whose links to Africa
are densest, i.e. the US, UK and France. Because significant elites
in these states see China as a rival for resources and influence in
Africa, it is unsurprising that many Western politicians and
journalists negatively portray China-in-Africa and, through their
domination of global mass communications, spread such representations
to the rest of the world.
The discourse is
in part about the effects China's presence has on governance in
Africa and thus about her alleged indirect support for human rights
abuses. A concomitant argument is that China's activities obstruct
Africa's development, an argument that can be placed within a right
to development framework. Emphasis on that right is ironic, however,
given that the discourse of China-in-Africa is most developed in the
US and it was the US government that famously stood alone in refusing
to recognize a right to development when the United Nations adopted
that right in 1998.1
A 2007 New
York Times editorial is emblematic of how the discourse is being
played out in Western media. Its title, "Patron of African
Misgovernment," refers to China.2
The editors argued that if African states agreed to put their natural
resources "in long-term hock" to the PRC, China would write them
big checks, without questions about authoritarianism or corruption.
China was said to engage in "callous yuan diplomacy," enjoy "an
ugly partnership" with the "genocidal" Sudanese government, and
to have made Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe its "favorite,"
contributing to Zimbabweans lack of free elections and "sane
economic policies." The Times averred that China is pushing
the poorest African workers deeper into poverty by flooding Africa
with cheap manufactured goods and lending money to African states
without insisting on compliance with social and environmental
standards for investments that Western states purportedly promote
through their Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).
The Times editors also expressed outrage at a Chinese
company's exploitation of Zambian miners.3
The essence of
the discourse then is that many Western opinion leaders cast PRC
trade and investment policies in Africa as promoting "colonialism"
or human rights violations.4
PRC officials deny such characterizations and portray China-Africa
links in "win-win" terms. With regard to trade, China's
Minister of Commerce has stated that "Some African leaders believe
it is China's entry into Africa and China's increasing trade with
the continent that have helped some African resources show their true
activities in Africa do violate the human rights of Africans, but not
in the ways that Western elites claim. Rather, China's policies
violate Africans' rights in much the same ways that Western
policies do, through disadvantageous terms of trade, the exploitation
of natural resources, oppressive labor regimes, and support for
authoritarian rulers. These are practices that China's elites used
to denounce, but now come close to extolling as dynamic capitalism.
For example, in 2007, the PRC government's main international
publication ran an article by Jian Junbao, a scholar from top-ranked
Fudan University on Western charges of "Chinese colonialism" in
Africa. He stated that "more and more companies from China are
entering Africa, but they simply focus on profits regardless of their
harmful influences on African society, such as environmental
pollution, excessive development and exploitation of local labor."
Jian nevertheless argued that the path taken by China is "consistent
with the logic of market capitalism-liberal trade" and makes China
not a colonialist, but "a successful capitalist in Africa."6
commonalities of Western and Chinese behavior impacting the
well-being of Africans are thus fundamental, there are differences.
China's experience as a semi-colony, its socialist legacy, and its
developing country status, make PRC policies presumptively less
injurious to African sensibilities about rights than those of the
main Western states. That may change, but China's current
activities in Africa are often more appealing to Africans than the
continent's links with the US, UK and France.7
In what follows, we focus on the PRC trade and investment activities
in Africa most often denounced as harming African interests.
Conclusions are drawn about why the discourse of China-in-Africa has
emerged as it has and whether Africans endorse its main tenets.
Development and China's Imports
is rising sharply. Only US$3 billion (b) in 1995, it was $55b in
2006, balanced slightly in Africa's favor. While China's 2006
trade with Africa remains far less than the US's $91b, the PRC is
in third place, behind the US and France, among Africa's trade
and asserts that its trade is responsible for 20% of Africa's
The trade aspects invoked in the China-in-Africa discourse concern
both China's imports from and exports to Africa. On imports, it
overwhelmingly focuses on oil and charges that China fosters Africa's
dependence on earnings from raw materials. A researcher at Canada's
University of Waterloo has noted the frequent assertion that
"Beijing's demand for African oil and other raw materials has
inevitably helped to perpetuate Africa's reliance on oil exports
and, is so doing, further prevent the growth of more labor-intensive
industries, such as agro-business and manufacturing."10
Ten percent of
Sub-Saharan African exports went to China in 2005; five oil and
mineral exporting countries accounted for 85% of PRC imports from
Africa. In 2004, oil and gas were 62% of Africa's exports to China,
ores and metals 17%, agricultural raw materials 7%.11
This profile is not unusual: apart from South Africa, the continent's
manufacturing is largely confined to textiles and clothing, which
China also produces in abundance. Thus, in 2005, oil accounted for
80% of US imports from Sub-Saharan Africa; apparel was less than 3%,
with minerals most of the remainder. Petroleum products accounted for
92.3% of the value of goods imported under the US's preferential
African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2005.12
About 47% of the
7.2 million (m) barrels per day (bpd) of oil China consumed in 2006
was imported. PRC imports were 6.8% of the world oil trade and
supplied 12% of all energy China consumed.13
China's 2005 oil imports from Africa provided 4% of China's
energy needs. Of the 31% of PRC oil imports that came from Africa,
Angola's share was 14%, Sudan's 5%, Congo (B)'s 4%, and
Equatorial Guinea's 3%.14
African oil supplied 14.5% of all oil China consumed in 2006, hardly
different from the US's importing from Africa of 13.2% of all oil
it consumed, imports that provided 5.2% of US energy needs.15
The China-in-Africa discourse however represents the PRC as aspiring
to be the chief taker of African resources, especially oil, and
interested in Africa only on that account.16
In 2006, China
received 8.7% of Africa's oil exports, while Europe took 36% and
the US 33%.17
China thus hardly dominates Africa's oil markets. It does however
participate in an oil business in Africa widely understood as
exploitative. The price of oil and other internationally-trade
primary products, relative to that of industrial commodities, has
been historically determined in large measure by asymmetries in
Apart from "unequal and disparate exchange" that affects oil and
primary products generally,19
the oil industry is capital intensive and creates few jobs. It is
environmentally damaging, including to human ecology. It induces
pervasive corruption in producing states. People in oil-rich
regions, such as southern Sudan and Nigeria's Niger Delta, have
received so few benefits from their patrimony that violent conflict
oil largely to fuel its production: 70% of PRC oil demand is for
industrial uses, while 70% of US demand is to run motor vehicles.21
China is in Africa for oil because about 80% of the world's proven
conventional oil reserves are owned by states, which account for
two-thirds of oil production. Much of the remaining oil reserves have
been sown up by the large, long-established private Western oil
China takes oil
in Africa differently than the main Western states: it often packages
its oil deals with loans for infrastructure projects. From the late
1970s, developed states and the international financial institutions
(IFIs) largely abandoned financing infrastructure projects in Africa,
which also receives little private and almost no public-private
financing for infrastructure projects.23
International investment in infrastructure in Africa amounted to only
4% of all such investment outside North America from 1992-2003, even
though lack of infrastructure is a major factor blocking Africa's
China has worked
on African infrastructure for four decades and is now becoming the
continent's pre-eminent infrastructure builder. The World Bank (WB)
has estimated that as of mid-2006, China's Export-Import Bank
infrastructure loans to Africa were valued at over $12.5b.25
In 2006, China made more than $8b in loans to sub-Saharan Africa26
and in 2007 pledged to provide $20b in infrastructure and trade
finance loans to Africa over the next three years, loans that come on
top of the $5b China-Africa Development Fund announced in late 2006
to encourage PRC investment in Africa.27
G8 finance ministers have criticized China's loans, on the ground
that a "lend and forgive cycle" should be avoided. NGOs pointed
out however, that only $2.3b of the additional $25b in aid pledged to
Africa by rich countries in 2005 had been delivered.28
to acquiring oil in Africa has been exemplified in the
China-in-Africa discourse by a 2004 agreement with Angola. The
discourse has fixed on that deal because it involved infrastructure
loans to the notoriously corrupt Angolan government, loans not
accompanied by a requirement that Angola report how the funds are
spent. The initial loan was for US$2b that Angola would spend on
railroad repair, road building, office construction, a fiber-optic
network and oil exploration. It was guaranteed by oil sales from a
former Shell Oil block that generates 10,000 bpd. The block had been
sought by the largest Indian oil firm, but secured by China because
of the size of its infrastructure loan package. The loan was set at
1.5% interest, to be recouped over 17 years, including a 5-year
interest free period, and reserved for Angolans 30% of the value of
infrastructure contracts paid for with its funds. The remaining 70%
were open for bids, although most contracts have likely gone to PRC
The interest rate was later lowered to 0.25%. By 2007, China had
lent Angola as much as $6b for infrastructure projects and Angola was
in turn providing China with almost half the oil that it imports from
The Angolan and
other PRC loans elicited from then-WB head Paul Wolfowitz, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the UK government, comments
about China's activities threatening to plunge Africa into deep
debt. The US Treasury termed China a "rogue creditor."31Africa
remains however in a debt trap created by Western states and the
IFIs. It owes more than $300b, on which it pays significant
In contrast, as the US Africanist Deborah Brautigam has noted, China
"regularly cancel[s] the loans of African countries, loans that
were usually granted at zero interest [and] without the long dance of
negotiations and questionable conditions required by the World Bank
For example, a highway opened in 2006 between Ghana's two major
cities, Accra and Kumasi, was built with a PRC no-interest loan.34
leaders know corrupt officials will siphon off part of their
infrastructure loans. OECD researchers have concluded however that
increased PRC activities in Africa have not deepened corruption among
It is questionable to accuse China of undermining self-proclaimed
Western efforts to stem corruption in African countries afflicted by
the "resource curse" of abundant resources, but impoverished
populations because the packaged loans China offers are likely less
likely than Western aid to being drained by corruption. As a Hong
Kong journalist has observed, because China's loans and aid are
tied to infrastructure projects, "corrupt rulers cannot somehow use
it to buy Mercedes Benzes."36A
close US observer of PRC activities in Africa has argued that China's
aid is more effective than Western aid because much is used for
"hydroelectric power dams, railroads, roads and fiber-optic cables,
which have the potential to benefit ordinary people, no matter how
corrupt the regime under which they live."37
promoting a rhetoric of transparency regarding African oil-producers,
Western states have not bound their citizens to it. Bids for oil
blocks in Africa typically feature "signature bonuses," paid to
governments, which often run into the hundreds of millions of
dollars. Foreign oil companies know that the difference between what
they have paid and what host governments retain after skimming can be
striking. In a rare instance of disclosure, Western oil firms told
the IMF that they had paid some $400m in 2001 for an Angolan oil
tract, but the Angolan government claimed it had received only
In Angola, oil
earnings are controlled by the state oil company and the president's
office. Investigators have traced hundreds of millions of dollars in
bonuses and bribes paid by Western multinationals to Angolan
officials' private offshore accounts. Not surprisingly, most
multinationals refuse to publish what they pay. Western governments
have not compelled the oil companies, which are their own citizens,
to make such disclosures. Instead, they demand corrupt governments
publicize their own corruption.39
interventions moreover have not actually diminished the resource
A group of African scholars have argued that promotion of
transparency is far from sufficient as a mechanism to end oil-related
corruption in the continent. Instead, the primary source of
corruption is what they term "human factor decay"; that is,
corruption cannot be dented as long as African officials and the
(mainly Western) oil executives who corrupt them tolerate such
criminality. Their actions can hardly be policed through the UK
government's EITI, because it is voluntary.41
The campaign to require firms to Publish What You Pay (PWYP),
promoted by NGOs, is aimed at mandatory disclosure by publicly-traded
natural resource companies, but not non-traded or state-owned firms
and PWYP has been resisted by most Western oil companies, especially
The example of a
supposedly successful external policy intervention to curb oil-based
corruption often cited in Western media is the WB-Chad agreement to
ameliorate the resource curse and spur poverty alleviation. In
exchange for a modicum of WB financing to construct the Chad-Cameroon
Pipeline — the largest single private sector investment in
Sub-Saharan Africa — Chad has since 2003 deposited in a London bank
account most royalties received from Exxon-Mobil and other oil
consortium firms that operate the pipeline. The account is monitored
by foreign overseers, who disperse funds to Chad, mainly for poverty
alleviation programs. At the time the pipeline was built, the price
of oil was low and multinationals were unwilling to risk building the
pipeline without WB backing. A study has found that the WB-Chad
agreement was "a unique one-off event determined by a particular
set of historical circumstances that no longer hold." With high
prices and tight supplies, oil firms no longer need to shelter under
WB approval for projects. The WB-Chad agreement moreover is judged
to be very limited in geographical scope and duration and not likely
to do much to alleviate poverty.43
China-in-Africa discourse will probably continue to focus
overwhelmingly on oil in discussing China's imports from the
continent. American analysts particularly see the US as in strategic
competition with China in Africa, one aspect of which concerns oil.44
By February, 2007, Africa was supplying 24% of US daily oil imports,
ahead of the Middle East's 18.6%.45
The US government estimates African oil production will grow 91% in
2002-2025, while world oil production will grow only 53%. Armed
forces in a new Africa Command will have as a main task protecting US
access to oil.46
US prominence in
taking African oil is accompanied by its backing of authoritarian
rulers in almost all African oil producing states.47
The partial exception is Sudan: the US cooperates with and protects
Sudan's military and intelligence leaders, but opposes its Islamist
US leaders and media however use that partial exception and PRC
involvement in Sudan's oil industry to keep the discourse focused
on China's supposed "scramble for oil." This is so even though
China is still far from having the capability to compete with Western
multinationals for control of the key aspects of African oil
and even though much of the oil which China takes from Africa
(especially Sudan) is not brought to China, but traded on the open
Development and China's Exports
imports from Africa are not substantially different from the West's
imports, her purchases of natural resources are at least often tied
to provision of low or no-cost funds for infrastructure vital to
Africa's development. China's exports to Africa have also been
sharply criticized, however. They are portrayed as low quality goods
that poorly serve consumers and foster the decline of African
In much of
Africa, many basic consumer items are expensive imports from
developed countries, yet because poor infrastructure and corruption
in Africa create high production costs, these are often cheaper than
Chinese goods are cheaper than both and thus appeal to grassroots
Africans. PRC goods in Madagascar are 2-3 times lower than that of
local or imported goods.53
As more Chinese go to Africa and compete with each other, prices
fall. In the Congo capital, Kinshasa, PRC merchants first sold shoes
at US$12 a pair; as more Chinese arrived, the price fell to $6.54
In Ghana, as more PRC bikes were imported, the price fell from $67 to
$25 in two years.55
If in most
African states the affordability of PRC imports is an obvious benefit
to grassroots African consumers,56
there are in any case only seven countries that receive a significant
share of their imports (5-14%) from China.57
Contrary to the China-in-Africa discourse moreover, basic consumer
goods do not predominate among PRC exports, but rather "machinery,
electronic equipment and high- and new-tech products."58
A UK government study has determined that in only one African
country, Uganda, are basic consumer goods more than a fifth of the
value of all goods imported from China. The same study concluded
that increased PRC imports to Africa mainly displace imports from
elsewhere and have little or no effect on local production.59
government recognizes that some goods exported to Africa are of poor
quality. Many Chinese goods are brought to Africa not by state-owned
companies, but by private Chinese or African entrepreneurs, over whom
the PRC government exercises little control. It has nevertheless
reportedly "put in place stringent measures to ensure that its
goods meet all the minimum quality standards for exports [and] has
established a ministry to ensure that low quality goods are not
Chinese exports to Africa do not displace existing local producers,
PRC exports to the world also have not had the commonly asserted
crushing effect on African exports.61
The Export Similarity Index, a measure of overlap between the value
of products countries export, is only 4% for China and Africa and
almost exclusively involves the textiles and clothing (T&C)
The China-in-Africa discourse features a constant stream of charges
that China is gutting African T&C production.63
exports to Africa began to rise sharply from around 2003, but in many
African countries, the T&C industry had long been in decline. In
Ghana, T&C employed 25,000 people in 1977, but only 5,000 in the
In Zambia, 25,000 people worked in T&C in the 1980s, but only
10,000 in 2002. During the 1960s and 1970s, many African countries
practiced import substituting industrialization, raising T&C
production to eventually involve 20-30% of formal sector employment.
By the 1980s and 1990s however, when most African countries had lost
their ability to service their debt, the IFIs insisted that they open
up to foreign goods. As a result, some countries experienced
de-industrialization, particularly with regard to the T&C
The influx of
second-hand clothing from developed countries particularly reduced
domestic markets for African T&C producers.66
WB/IMF-mandated structural adjustment programs (SAPs) in Kenya from
the 1990s, for example, opened up the textile sector to foreign
competition. That resulted in an influx of second-hand (mitumba)
and new garments from the US and EU, whose increased subsidization of
their own cotton farmers also shrunk the Kenyan cotton industry,
reducing supplies to Kenyan T&C producers. Neo-liberal reforms
in Kenya included raising the cost of electricity and other inputs,
making it still more difficult for T&C firms to produce at low
prices. While mitumba distribution came to involve 500,000
Kenyans, the country's T&C industry, which in the early 1980s
employed 200,000, nearly collapsed. Up to 70,000 factory and mill
jobs alone were lost.67
By 2004, even with effect of the US's AGOA, less than 35,000 people
worked in the export-oriented Kenyan clothing sector.68
China from the mid-1990s, massive investment in capacity helped
create very high T&C industry productivity. By 2001, a vast
expansion in the number of Chinese T&C exporters began.69
While experiencing strong competition and massive job losses,
PRC-based firms' share of world T&C exports grew from 9% in
1990 to 24% in 2005.70
T&C exports accounted for 70% of China's 2006 $177.5b global
From 1974, the
Multifibre Arrangement (MFA) restricted China's T&C exports to
developed countries. The 1994 WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing
(ATC) kept MFA quotas until January 1, 2005. The MFA's expiry
allowed PRC firms to take market share from African and other T&C
firms. African clothing exports to the US initially dropped 20%. In
several countries, T&C employment dropped sharply in 2005-2006.72
Job losses through competition with China and other Asian producers
suffers from several . . . drawbacks as an apparel producer,
including relatively high utility and transportation costs and long
shipping times to the United States. The region also has lower
productivity and less skilled labor than Asia, and it has fewer
sources of cotton yarn and higher-priced fabrics than China and
T&C-producing states have featured in the China-in-Africa
discourse as hard-hit by Chinese competition, notably Lesotho,
Madagascar, Morocco, and South Africa. Yet, these industries (except
in South Africa) were already in extremis by 200074
and eventual outcomes have also been at odds with the discourse's
portrayal of the PRC as gravedigger of Africa's T&C industry.
In most of the countries often discussed in the discourse, the T&C
industry has now largely recovered from its post-MFA debacle.
In Lesotho, T&C
bosses have been foreign (mainly from Taiwan and Hong Kong) and
employ most of the country's formal sector workers. In 2006, they
re-branded themselves as producers of "ethical clothing" for the
US market, allowing an almost full employment recovery.75
In Madagascar, which lost about 5,000 of 100,000 T&C jobs in
2005, the industry found a niche in higher-end T&C, held its own
in 2006, and is expected to grow in 2007-2008.76
Moroccan textile exports began to recover as producers moved up the
value chain and oriented themselves to just-in-time production for
the European market, 50-60% of whose requirements cannot be fulfilled
by an exporter as far away as China.77
From 2003 to
2006, South Africa's T&C industry purportedly shed 55,000 jobs,
18,000 of them since late 2004. The influx of PRC products was not
the only factor. The rand appreciated some 50% from 2002 to 2004,
making South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland exports more expensive.78
South African T&C manufacturers, unlike most producers from the
continent, also cannot source cheaper fabric from Asia if they want
their goods to enter the US at AGOA preferential tariffs.79
According to University of Cape Town economist Mike Morris, South
Africa's T&C industry suffers moreover from little capital
investment and poor management. Its increasingly informality has
lead to deskilling and compromises in the quality of goods.80
effect of the influx of PRC T&C goods into South Africa also
should be put into a wider context. A University of Johannesburg
economist has written that his research shows that the effect of
Chinese T&C imports "is positive as far as total employment and
output growth in South Africa are concerned, since the growth rate in
South Africa has been based on the retail sector's expenditures."
The availability to the retail sector of cheap Chinese T&C
imports has considerably increased its turnover and thus employment
in that sector, which is the main contributor to South African GDP.
The increase in retail employment more than compensates for job
losses in T&C.81
In any case, the
South African T&C industry, over retail sector objections,
spurred the government to get the PRC to fix quotas for 2007-2008 on
31 types of T&C exports to South Africa. The government opines
that the quotas will reduce PRC imports by one third and create
55,000 jobs — roughly, perhaps, the number of jobs lost since 2003.82
The PRC government has said it is "willing to help Africans improve
the competitiveness of their textile products." It agreed to
finance a US$2.5 million training program in the South African T&C
industry and indicated it will "mak[e] preferential loans available
to South Africa in modernizing its textile industry if it is
A balance of
positive and negative impacts for China's exports to Africa is not
easily drawn. Yet, as to the focus of the China-in-Africa discourse,
the T&C industry, the balance seems much less negative than the
discourse makes it appear. As with the discourse's preoccupation
with China's oil imports from Africa, its fixation on Africa's
T&C industry is deliberately non-comparative. If comparisons were
drawn, China would not necessarily be the villain of the piece: it
takes much less oil from Africa than the West and provides
infrastructure benefits the West does not. China did not contribute
to a steep decline in African T&C manufacturing through SAPs and
Western states have not restricted their very substantial used and
new clothing exports to Africa.
Development and China's Investments
direct investment (FDI) inflows to Africa come from Europe (led by
France, Netherlands, and UK), along with investment from South Africa
and the US. These countries together have accounted for more than
half of Africa's FDI inflows. China had only $49 million in FDI in
Africa in 1990 and $600m in 2003. Its FDI stock in 2005 was $1.6b, of
$57b in global PRC FDI. In 1979-2000, the most recent years for
which figures are available, 46% of PRC FDI in Africa went to
manufacturing (15% to textiles alone), 28% to resource extraction,
18% to services (mostly construction) and 7% to agriculture. The PRC
has identified four areas in which it will encourage investment in
Africa: industrial processing, infrastructure, agriculture, and
PRC firms have recently pledged to Africa is now being realized so
quickly that China's FDI stock in the continent is thought to have
reached $11.7b at the end of 2006 and includes manufacturing, trade,
transportation, and agriculture.85
China is forecast to be a major foreign investor in the developing
It is thus likely to soon be among the main sources of FDI for
Africa, especially as the PRC central and provincial governments
offer tax incentives, loans, credit, and ready access to foreign
exchange for well-established enterprises to undertake FDI activities
China's rapidly expanding FDI in Africa, development and
investments also figure in the China-in-Africa discourse.88
Even more than with trade, the discourse is narrowly focused. Its
primary focus has been on only one investment by one PRC state-owned
enterprise (SOE), among the more than 800 major PRC enterprises in
Africa, 100 of them large SOEs.89
Western media reports devote hugely disproportionate attention to the
Non-Ferrous Company-Africa (NFCA) Chambishi copper mine.90
The upshot of these reports is that "the Chinese" are Africa's
The question of
whether the NFCA enterprise at Chambishi involves extraordinarily
oppressive conditions is considered, although not directly answered,
in a 2007 report produced for two Zambian NGOs. It points out that
privatization has been the main cause for a sharp deterioration in
Zambian miners' conditions. Noting that NFCA is commonly claimed to
be the worst investor in Zambia's Copperbelt, that an Indian
company, Vedanta, is judged the next worse, and that "Swiss,
British, South African, Canadian, and other investors typically
labeled ‘white,'" are said to be the best, the report states
The debate is
clearly informed by racist assumptions, and mixed in with critique of
the employment practices and health and safety failings of particular
investors, there are usually plenty of comments on the personal
attitudes or habits of Indian and Chinese businessmen, levels of
social integration of workers and management in communities on the
Copperbelt, and a fair sprinkling of frequently repeated urban
The purchase of
the defunct Chambishi copper mine by NFCA in 1998 restored its
operations and boosted its employment back from 100 to 2,200, of the
39,000 miners in Zambia.92
The mine however was the site of the worst disaster in Zambian mining
history when, in April, 2005, 52 Zambian workers were killed in a
dynamite plant explosion. During a 2006 wildcat strike over payment
delays, two protestors were shot when miners demonstrated near the
living quarters of the mine's Chinese managers.
Few of the
mine's Zambian workers have permanent pensionable contracts, in
contrast to its 180 Chinese employees. NFCA has made it hard for
unions to represent its contract workers and it pays the lowest wages
among private mining firms in Zambia. There are eleven Chinese, but
only one Zambian, senior manager. Miners and their families had free
health care when the mine was Zambian state-owned, but now find it
hard to access mine hospitals. Although many miners and their
families suffer from HIV/AIDS, there is little preventative health
care. The townships where miners live are poorly serviced.
Zambia's government largely ignored conditions at Chambishi. More
recently, it has threatened to punish NFCA and other owners who act
"outside the normal" and "put the Government to ridicule."
In July 2006, the lowest paid workers' wages were increased, but
were still only about the minimum wage.93
In any case, the Chambishi mine is not the only privatized mine in
the country where conditions are highly oppressive. Many Zambians
find conditions at all mines to be much worse than before
privatization and blame the government for having acceded to WB
demands to rapidly turn over the state-owned mines to
multi-nationals. Indeed, the WB and IMF made release of more than a
half billion dollars of balance of payments support conditional on
Zambia's quick completion of privatization.94
report states that among Zambian mines there is "plenty of poor
practice, particularly at Metorex," a white South African firm that
owns 90% of the Chibuluma mine, where it carries out exploitative
activities detailed in the report.95
A Canadian firm, First Quantum Metals (owner of the Nkana mine) and
Metorex are resisting Zambian government efforts to raise royalty
rates to 2.5-3%, to better support education and health programs.
Most foreign mining firms now pay what are likely the lowest royalty
rates in the world.96
Metorex, which earned the highest mining profits in Zambia in 2006,97
First Quantum, and Vendanta (owner of the large Konkola mine) all pay
0.6% royalties and a 25% corporate tax rate. NFCA, however, pays 2%
royalties and 35% taxes.98
In 1992, when
copper was $2,280 a ton, the state-owned the mines provided more than
$200m to Zambia's treasury on 400,000 tons production. In 2004,
with copper $2,868 and the same level of production, the now
foreign-owned mines provided only $8m. In contrast to the
pre-privatization years, the foreign-owned mines in Zambia also
generally have no linkages that enrich local communities. Only a
minority of firms still run health and education services for
employees and their dependents.99
copper mine owners are surely harsh exploiters, but a hierarchy of
bad (but "relatively good") white bosses, worse Indian mine
operators, and super-exploiting Chinese is misleading, when a wider
range of factors are compared. A Zambian politician who expounds that
hierarchy is nevertheless repeatedly quoted by Western media. Guy
Scott, a white farmer, ex-Minister of Agriculture, and now secretary
general of the opposition Patriotic Front (PF), has stated "People
are saying: 'We've had bad people before. The whites
were bad, the Indians
were worse, but the Chinese
are worst of all.'"100
PF head Michael Sata, runnig for president in 2006, said he would
drive out the Chinese, Indians and Lebanese, who he called
Sata reportedly received funds from Taiwan and said he would
recognize it in place of the PRC. He visited Taiwan after he lost
the race, while some of his followers attacked Chinese-owned shops in
The Chambishi mine is by no means the largest Chinese-owned
enterprise in Africa. A private, Chinese-owned conglomerate in
Nigeria, with which many PRC SOEs partner with in manufacturing,
construction and other projects, has 20,000 employees, including many
There are a number of large PRC-owned factories in Africa, e.g. the
Urifiki Textile Mill in Tanzania, with 2000 workers, and shoe and
textile factories in Nigeria that employ 1000-2000 workers.104
Chambishi, however, has been burned into the minds of those exposed
to the China-in-Africa discourse.
If the Zambian mining industry is anything to go by, a comparative
study would likely reveal many cases of both PRC and Western
enterprises in Africa with oppressive working conditions. In terms
of profiting from that exploitation, however, there is no comparison.
PRC investments in Africa are much less profitable than those of
Western countries. The WB has observed that Africa provides "the
highest returns on foreign direct investment of any region in the
In the 1990s, these returns already averaged 29% and have risen since
then. They are much higher than the returns of US foreign affiliates
elsewhere in the world, for example.106
Returns on investments from Chinese foreign affiliates in Africa,
however, are low compared to PRC businesses operating in other
regions in the world. In contrast to much Western investment in
Africa moreover, most PRC investments are in the form of
equity joint ventures with African enterprises, who thus share in
profits. They produce mainly for the local and other African markets
and most are small and medium-size enterprises.107
PRC firms are often flexible in responding to African development
plans. For example, in 2007, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC) banned cobalt concentrate exports. Chinese firms that
previously bought concentrate, quickly sought opportunities to set up
cobalt processing plants in the DRC to produce copper cobalt alloy
for export to China.108
PRC investments seem also to concentrate less in natural resource
extraction and more in infrastructure and manufacturing than Western
investments. In part this is because "the United States and other
Western countries ha[d] all but abandoned big infrastructure and
industrial ventures in Africa decades ago, deeming them unprofitable
or too risky."109
Indeed, only 10% of the $22b of US FDI in Africa in late 2005 was in
Some 83% of US FDI is in five African states; all except South Africa
are oil producers; US FDI in the four states is overwhelmingly in the
oil industry. Even in the African oil sector, sharp differences
exist between Western multi-nationals and China's parastatals:
Shell and other "majors" have been in Nigeria for a half-century,
but that oil-producing giant has to import most of the gasoline it
uses. In Sudan however, PRC firms have built a full structure for
exploration, production, refining, transport and sales.111China
National Petroleum Company claims to have "provided jobs to more
than 100,000 Sudanese while contributing to other employment sectors
as the oil industry has grown."112
The China-in-Africa discourse in the West for the most part
insists that Chinese have particularly positioned themselves to
exploit Africa and Africans. For example, an analyst for a popular
US business information service has remarked that
is scouring every country in Africa that has oil, copper, cobalt,
chromium, timber and other raw materials . . . Many scholars and
politicians maintain that China is a new colonizing power, exploiting
Africa's natural resources and harming its movement toward
democracy and human rights.113
Similarly, a well-known UK journalist has written of "China's
indifference to Africa's authoritarian despots, as it courts the
continent for energy and raw materials."114Western
states, especially the US, are not indifferent to most authoritarian
rulers, however: they directly support despots by providing military
assistance and legitimacy.115
China is thus not likely to fare worse than the West in any
thoroughgoing evaluation of how foreign investments impinge on
development and human rights in Africa.
Modalties of trade commonly examined
for their development implications involve the import and export of
goods. Other activities relevant to the China-in-Africa discourse
can also be brought under a broad rubric of trade however. These
include trade in money and people. Western banks have traded secrecy
and interest to the exporters of about 40% of Africa's private
wealth. The accomplices of such capital flight and tax evasion by
corrupt African officials are in London and Zurich, not Beijing.116
The main Western states have traded citizenship for the skills of
professionals, especially doctors and nurses, trained in, but now
largely lost to Africa. Meanwhile, China has made a modest, but
important contribution to the training of professionals who return to
Africa after studying in the PRC.117
These forms of trade, seldom alluded to in the China-in-Africa
discourse, likely impinge as much as does commodity exchange on
Africans' right to development.
The main problem with the China-in-Africa discourse then is not
misleading criticisms of activities of China and Chinese in Africa;118
rather, even substantial criticisms are de-contextualized for
ideological reasons. Some analyses are superficial and inaccurate
attempts to positively cast Western actions in Africa compared to
China's activities. Others lack any comparative perspective in
discussing negative aspects of China's presence, so that consumers
of the discourse see a few trees, but not the forest. Both kinds of
analysis reflect Western elites' perception of their national
interests or moral superiority, especially as these impinge on
putative strategic competition with China. A US official stated in
2007 that "To say that the subject of ‘China in Africa'
fascinates the US government and private sector is something of an
In this connection, many analysts scarcely question the rhetoric of
the main Western states about "aiding African development" and
"promoting African democracy," yet are quick to seize upon
examples of exploitation or oppression fostered by PRC interests in
To comprehensively interrogate Chinese and
Western activities in Africa is to
interrogate a global economic system that has de-developed Africa at
every turn and into which China is increasingly integrated. Failing
that, one is left with little more than a binary between a
Western-promoted new "civilizing mission" on behalf of Africans
and activities of the "amoral" Chinese, who refuse to fully
endorse that mission, including by adopting trade and investment
practices in the continent that are not wholly compliant with
neo-liberalism. China, after all, can and does throw this binary back
in the face of it proponents by portraying the West as seeking a new
tutelage for Africans and China as eschewing the role of
intermeddler, while promoting "win-win" trade and investment. So
too do many Africans: Namibia's Minister of Trade and Industry has
those who consistently at all costs rejected our pleas for
independence have now appointed themselves as champions of Africa's
economic interests . . . Unproductive sentiments bordering on
xenophobia and outright narrow-mindedness not supported by historical
and empirical evidence should not be entertained by Africans as
regards our Chinese brothers, who supported us all these years
Similarly, the head of Nigeria's Centre for Law and Social
Action, Dr. Ndubisi Obiorah, has observed that in his country,
word China does not evoke Darfur or Zimbabwe; the first thing that
comes to mind for Nigerian businesspeople when you mention China is
business. They see China as a source of cheap consumer goods, of
cheap and cost effective manufacturing technology, of cheap and cost
effective expatriate technicians.122
popularity of these and other features of China's presence in
Africa, compared with the activities of the main Western states, goes
well beyond businesspeople moreover.123
The China-in-Africa discourse can be expected to become
increasingly heated, especially with regard to the effects of PRC
trade and investment on development, as its audiences weigh competing
claims. Those who follow the discourse as it is played out in Africa
itself can already detect that many Africans are wary of attempts to
cast it in Manichean terms. Many Africans moreover are now rejecting
any efforts to use the discourse to distract from the reality of
Africa's continued subordination within a world system that builds
in exploitation and other systematic violations of rights.124
"US Votes Against Development as Basic Human Right," Inter Press
Service (IPS), Dec. 10, 1998
"Patron of African Misgovernment," New York Times (NYT),
Feb. 19, 2007.
A frequent trope in the discourse involves allusions to the
negative views of "critics" of China's role, followed by
examples that support those views. See, e.g. Chris McGreal, "Thanks
China, Now Go Home," Guardian, Feb. 5, 2007 (critics say
China is engaged in "little more than another round of foreign
plunder as Beijing extracts minerals and other natural resources at
knock-down prices while battering the continent's economies with a
flood of subsidized goods and surplus labor").
See, e.g. Yaroslav Trofimov, "In Africa, China's Expansion
Begins to Stir Resenment," Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Feb.
"African People Won't Welcome Colonialists: Chinese Minister,"
Daily Trust (Nigeria), Mar. 13, 2007.
Jian Junbao, "China's Role in Africa," Beijing Review
50:6 (February 8, 2007).
The US government has noted the appeal of China and Chinese in
Africa. James Swan (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State), "Remarks
to Columbia University's Third Annual China Symposium," Apr. 20,
Darren Taylor, "African Respect for Chinese Expatriates Grows,"
VOANews, May 8, 2007,
Robyn Dixon, "Africa Holds Attractions for China Leaders." Los
Angeles Times (LAT), Jan. 31, 2007; "China," Mbendi:
Information for Africa, 2007,
"World must do more fro Africa, China's Premier says," Agence
France Presse (AFP), May 16, 2007.
Hany Besada, "China in Africa – a Reliable Friend?" Taipei
Times, March 25, 2007:8.
Harry Broadman, Africa's Silk Road: China and India's New
Economic Frontier (Washington: World Bank, 2006):11-12, 81.
Some 21% of PRC imports of cotton and 26% of imports of diamonds
came from Africa in 2005. Some 15.4% of Africa's exports of logs
went to China. Ron Sandrey, "The African Merchandise Trading
Relationship with China," Inside Asia, 2006 (3-4):8-10.
US Department of Commerce, U.S.-African Trade Profile
(Washington: International Trade Administration, 2006):1, 2, 12.
"Analysis of China's Energy Import and Export," Xinhua (XH),
Mar. 19, 2007; "China Oil Demand seen at
7.01 mln bpd," XH, Nov. 10, 2006; "China's Thirst for Energy
Complicating Global Policy," Petroleumworld.com, Jan. 18, 2006,
Erica Downs, "China." Washington: Brookings Institution Foreign
Policy Studies Energy Security Series, Dec., 2006:31.
Barrie McKenna, "Don't Expect ‘Energy Independence' to Clear
the Air on Climate Change," Globe & Mail
(Toronto)(G&M), Jan. 30, 2007 (US imported 60.3% of oil it
consumed in 2006); David Bird, "Africa Tops Mideast for US Crude,"
Houston Chronicle (HC), Feb. 25, 2007 (22% of 2006 US oil
imports from Africa).
See, e.g., Peter Brookes, "Into Africa: China's Scramble for
Influence and Oil," Heritage Lectures No. 1006 (Washington:
Heritage Foundation, 2007):2 (China wants exclusive access to
Africa's resources); Hamish Macrae, "We Fail to Work with China
at our Peril," The Independent, Feb. 14, 2007:32 (PRC
interest in Africa only involves resources).
"China Defends Oil Trade with Africa," Reuters, Mar.12, 2007.
See Bassam Fattouh, "The Origins and Evolution of the Current
International Oil Pricing system: a Critical Assessment," in
Robert Mabro (ed.), Oil in the 21st
Century: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2006):41-100.
Peter Custers, "Unequal Exchange and Poverty in
African Countries Exporting Primary Commodities."
European Conference of People's Global Action. Sept.
2, 2002, www.nadir.org/ nadir/iniativ/agp/
Terry Lynn Karl, "The Social and Political Consequences of Oil,"
in Cutler Cleveland (ed.), Encyclopedia of Energy (San Diego:
Elsevier, 2004); Nicholas Shaxson, Poisoned Wells: the Dirty
Politics of African Oil (New York: Palgrave, 2007). Angolan oil
creates twice as many jobs per millions of boe (barrels of oil
equivalent) in the US than in Angola. Keith Myers, "Petroleum,
Poverty and Security," (London: Chatham House Africa Programme
Briefing Paper 2005):6.
David Nason, "Troubled Waters Over Oil's Future," The
Australian, June 20, 2005.
Lynn Cook, "Big Oil Hashes Out Issues with State-Run Firms,"
HC, Sept. 17, 2004.
Robert Shephard, et al., "Financing Infrastructure in Africa,"
Gridlines No. 13 (Sept., 2006):2.
Tony Elumelu, "Obstacles and Opportunities to Financing
Infrastructure Projects in Sub-Saharan Africa:
the UBA Experience" (Washington: UBA 2006),
United Nations, World Economic
Situation and Prospects 2007 (New York: UN
Department of Economic
and Social Affairs, 2007):105.
Bates Gill, et al., China's Expanding Role in Africa:
Implications for the United States (Washington: Center for
Strategic and International Studies, 2007):8. As of 2005, 80% of
Ex-Im Bank loans to Africa went to five countries: Angola,
Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe, with 40% of loans for
power-generation infrastructure. Bates Gill and Jamie Riley, "The
Tenuous Hold of China Inc. in Africa," Washington Quarterly
Geoffrey York, "China, Africa Forging Closer Ties," G&M,
Nov. 6, 2006:A12. The US gave $3.5b in loans to sub-Saharan Africa
in 2004, France lent $3b and the World Bank lent $2.3b in 2006.
Such loans are not "aid" per se, as often involve a higher than
prime rate of interest.
"Financial Collaboration a New Focus in China-Africa Economic
Cooperation," XH, May 17, 2007.
"G8 Raps China for Lending $20b to Africa," United Press
International, May 21, 2007. When debt relief, which the G8 regards
as aid, is eliminated from the calculation, G8 aid to Africa
declined by 2% from 2005 to 2006. Jeffrey Sachs, "Empty
Promises," South China Morning Post (SCMP), Apr. 24, 2007.
China does not consider debt relief as aid. Darren Taylor, "Chinese
Aid Flows into Africa," VOANews, May 8, 2007,
"Angola: Oil Backed Loan Will Finance Recovery Projects,"
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Feb. 21, 2005,
report.asp?ReportID=45688; IRIN, "Angola:
Cautious Optimism for 2005, Jan. 14, 2005, www.irinnews.
org/report.asp?ReportID=45077; "Angola/China: an
Example of South-South Cooperation," Angolan Press Agency, Mar.
25, 2004; Cindy Hurst, China's Oil Rush in Africa
(Washington: Institute for the Analysis of Global Security 2006):10.
Lucy Corkin, "Angola Flexes New-Found Muscle,"Business Day
(BD)(South Africa), Mar. 23, 2007; Gill, "China's Expanding
Role . . . , 2007:9.
"China-Africa Ties Come Under Fresh Scrutiny," The Nation
(Kenya), December 12, 2006; "Beijing Summit: Implications for
Africa," This Day (Nigeria), Nov. 5, 2006; Michael
Phillips, "G-7 to Warn China over Costly Loans to Poor Countries,"
WSJ, Sept. 15, 2006:A2.
"It's Trade Not Aid that will Lift Africa from Poverty," East
African (Kenya), November 8, 2005. Sub-Saharan Africa paid
$8.3b in interest in 2003; George Kerevan, "So we all Take to the
Streets. Will it Work?" Scotsman, June 2, 2005. Until
2005, some countries, such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia, were
spending as much as 40% of their national budgets on debt repayment.
"Debt in Africa," Mbendi, www.mbendi.co.za/land/af/p0060.htm.
Deborah Brautigam and Adama Gaye, "Is Chinese Investment Good for
Africa?" Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 14, 2007,
"Chinese Investors Outpace Indians, British in Ghana," AFP, June
Andrea Goldstein, et al. China
and India: What's in it for Africa?
(Paris: OECD 2006):53.
Frank Ching, "Cosy Ties, but China Needs to do more for Africa."
Business Times. July 13, 2005.
Jennifer Brea, "China's New Scramble for Africa,"
American.Com: a Magazine of Ideas Online,
"Signing On," Petroleum Economist, Oct. 2004:1.
John McMillan, "Promoting Transparency in Angola," Journal of
Democracy 16:3 (2005)155-169.
See John Ghazvinian, Untapped: the Scramble for Africa's Oil
(New York: Harcourt 2007).
Although China is typically said to have no regard for promoting
transparency, Baroness Whitaker observed in a House of Lords debate
that because of its connections with international organizations,
"It seems that China may be interested in supporting the
principles of EITI." "Africa: Chinese Investment," Lords
Hansard, Feb. 6, 2007: Column 670.
Afeikhena Jerome, et al., "Addressing Oil Related Corruption in
Africa: Is the Push for Transparency Enough?" Review of Human
Factor Studies 11(1) (2005):7-32.
Scott Pegg, "Can Policy Intervention Beat the Resource Curse?
Evidence from the Chad-Cameroon Pipeline Project," African
Affairs (AA) 105/418 (2005):1-25.
Joshua Eisenman and Joshua Kurlantzick, "China's Africa
Strategy," Current History 105 (691) (2006):219-224;
Michael Klare and Daniel Volman, "The African ‘Oil Rush' and
American National Security," Third World Quarterly
27:4(2006):22-35; Gregory Kane, The Strategic Competition for the
Continent of Africa (Carlisle PA: US Army War College 2006);
Donovan Chau, Political Warfare in Sub-Saharan Africa: US
Capabilities and Chinese Operations in Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and
South Africa (Carlisle, PA: USAWC, 2007).
"U.S. Military to Help Secure Oil," Vanguard (Nigeria),
May 22, 2007.
Michael Klare, Blood and Oil: the Dangers and Consequences of
America's Growing Dependence on Imported Oil (New York:
Metropolitan, 2004):144; Lauren Ploch, "Africa Command: US
Strategic Interests and the Role of the US Military in Africa,"
Congressional Research Service, May 16, 2007.
See, e.g., Paul Lubeck, et al., "Convergent Interests: US Energy
Security and the ‘Securing' of Nigerian Democracy,"
International Policy Report, Feb., 2007:10. After the rigged
2007 Nigerian election, the US announced that it views Nigeria as a
strategic partner and would continue to work with her. Constante
Ikokwu, "US: Nigeria Still Strategic Partner, Despite Election
Flaws," This Day (Nigeria), May 19, 2007.
"The Twisted Triangle: America, China, and Sudan,"
Sept. 11, 2006,
"Oddest Bedfellows," African
Confidential 47:9 (April 28, 2006):8. China has supplied 20%
and Russia 40% of arms Sudan has received. Mark Bromley and Andrea
Goldstein, "What China Model can do for Africa," Financial
Times, Feb. 16, 2007. France and other countries also sell arms
to Sudan. One specialist has remarked that "following the
implementation of the UN Security Council arms embargo in December
2005, Chinese arms sales to Sudan are likely to have been halted
altogether." Yitzhak Shichor, "China's Darfur Policy,"
China Brief 7:7 (2007):5-8. The US has armed and trained
Chad's army, which arms Darfur rebels. F. William Engdahl,
"Darfur: Forget Genocide, There's Oil," Asia Times, May 25,
Despite Darfur, after the peace agreement between southern Sudan
rebels and Khartoum, US oil firms have renewed their interest in
Sudan's oil. Matthew Chen, "Chinese National Oil Companies and
Human Rights, Orbis (Winter 2007):41-54. India, which
partners with China and Malaysia in developing Sudan's oil, has
supported the Sudan government's position on Darfur. Luke Patey,
"A Complex Reality: The Strategic Behavious of Multinationa Oil
Corporatios and the New Wars in Sudan" (Copenhagen: Danish
Institute for International Studies, 2006):37.
Jedrezej George Frynas and Manuel Paul, "A New Scramble for
African Oil? Historical, Political and Business Perspectives,"
forthcoming in AA (2007). Some 95% of oil produced in Africa's
largest petro-state, Nigeria, is generated by five Western
companies: Shell, Exxon, Chevron, Total and Agip. Ibid.
Darren Taylor, "Concerns Mount about Chinese Oil Interests in
Africa, VOANews, May 3, 2007,
Nicholas Freeman, The Dragon on the Nile: China's Pursuit of
Energy Security in Sudan (Annapolis: US Naval Academy 2006):79
("the overwhelming majority of Sudan's oil is not shipped back
to China but rather sold on-the-spot to international buyers") .
Michael Wines, "China's Influence in Africa Arouses Some
Resistance," NYT, Feb. 10, 2007:3 (China "frequently seen . . .
as coveting Africa . . . as a dumping ground for cheap Chinese
goods"); "Frankenstein in Africa: China Sets Out to Destroy
Africa's Manufacturing Sector," Jan. 1, 2007,
"Zambia to Initiate Campaign to Boost Local Products Consumption,"
XH, Aug. 16, 2005. Due to poor infrastructure, if Africans worked
for free in manufacturing, their goods would still not compete with
PRC goods. Nigel Harris, The Return of Cosmopolitan Capital:
Globalization, the State and War (London: Taurus, 2003). For
the same reasons, many African countries cannot compete with Latin
American states in the production of items like T-shirts. See Uma
Subramanian and Matthias Matthijs, "Can Sub-Saharan Africa Leap
into Global Network Trade?" World Bank Policy Research Working
Paper 4112 (2007).
"Africa a Frontier of Opportunity for Expanding
China," Associated Press, February 8, 2007; Catherine
Fournet-Guerin, "New Chinese Immigration in
Antananarivo," Chinese Perspectives,
No. 67 (2006):45-57.
"Zhongguo Geti Shangren Taojin Feizhou: Jianku Chuangye Ganshang
Gan Gan" (China's Individual Entrepreneurs' Gold Rush in
Africa: Hardship in Building a Business; Dare to Think Dare to Do),
Renmin Wang, Aug. 17, 2005,
"Is the Awakening Giant a Monster," The Economist, Feb.
These consumers are not limited to buyers of basic commodities.
Many African businesses buy Chinese goods, often machinery, inputs
to production and wholesale commodities. See, e.g. "How Chinese
are Taking Over Kampala's Business Hub," New Vision
(Uganda), May 2, 2007.
Jane Kennan.and Christopher Stevens. 2005. Opening the Package:
the Asian Drivers and Poor
-Country Trade (Brighton: Institute of Development Studies
"China to Promote Trade, Economic Links with Africa in 2006, XH,
Chris Edwards and Rhys Jenkins, The Effect
of China and India's Growth and Trade Liberalisation on
Poverty in Africa (London:
UK Department for International Development, 2005):28-29, 38.
Nick Thiong'o, "China Unveils Move to Curb Sub-Standard
Exports," Kenya Times, Nov. 23, 2006. China's Ministry of
Commerce has ordered PRC firms in Africa to hire local workers and
meet international safety standards. Gill and Riley, "The Tenuous
. . .," 2007:47. The PRC State Council has issued "Nine
Principles to Encourage and Standardize Enterprises Overseas
Investment" requiring PRC firms operating overseas to abide by
local laws, protect labor rights and the environment and practice
corporate social responsibility. Stephen Marks, "The Summit in
Beijing," Pambazuka News, Dec. 14, 2006.
This is not to argue that in some sectors and with regard to certain
potentialities, the impact is not significant. See Raphael
Kaplinsky, et al., "The Impact of China on Sub Saharan Africa,"
Inter-American Development Bank, "How China and Latin America
Compete in the Global Marketplace", 2006:8,
See, e.g., Karen Palmer, "Asian Imports Gutting African Textile
Trade," SCMP, Dec. 14, 2005:9. Africa's 2003 T&C exports
were worth US$2.3b, less than one percent of a $400b world trade.
"How Many Will Closure of Textile Company Affect?" New Era
(Namibia), Jan. 22, 2007.
Peter Quartey, "The Textile and Clothing Industry in Ghana," in
Herbert Rauch and Rudolph Traub-Merz (eds.), The Future of the
Textile and Clothing Industry in Sub-Saharan Africa (Bonn:
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, 2006):135-146. By March, 2005, the
industry only employed 3,000. Ibid, p. 136.
Rudolf Traub-Merz, "The African Textile and Clothing Industry:
From Import Substitution to Export Orientation," in Rauch and
Traub-Merz, The Future . . ., 2006:9-35.
Second hand clothing was 26.8% by value of Sub-Saharan Africa's
imports in 2003. Sally Baden and Catherine Barber, "The Impact of
the Second Hand Clothing Trade on Developing Countries," Oxfam
Briefing Paper (2005):5,
2001 film T-Shirt Travels shows that after the 1991 opening
of Zambian markets to trade in second-hand clothes, every clothing
factory closed. See
"Social Forum Best Placed to Question World Order," East
African Standard (Kenya) (EAS), January 22, 2007; Gloria Otieno,
Trade Liberalization and Poverty in Kenya: A Case Study of the
Cotton Textiles Subsector (Nairobi: Kenya Institute for Public
Policy Research and Analysis, 2006).
Raphael Kaplinsky and Mike Morris, "Dangling by a Thread: How
Sharp are the Chinese Scissors?" (Brighton: IDS 2006):vi,
RKDanglingbyathread.pdf. There are also 230,000 Kenyans employed in
small and medium T&C workshops that produce only for the
domestic market. Otieno, "Trade Liberalization . . .," 2007:19.
Duane Newman, "Duane's World," BD, December 4, 2006; Mills
Soko, "SA Can Cut Lessons from Chinese Cloth," BD, Oct. 19,
"Lesotho Shows Textile Woes are About More than China," BD,
July 1, 2006. About one third of China's textile exports are made
by "foreign"-owned firms. Most are Hong Kong- or Taiwan-owned.
"E-TV Interview with Charge d'Affaire Mr. Zhou Yuxiao," PRC
Embassy, South Africa, April 13, 2006,
Mills Soko, "The Lessons of China's Rag Trade Revolution,"
Cape Argus (S. Africa), Feb. 1, 2007.
"Poorer Nations Feel China's Weight," International Herald
Tribune, Apr. 3, 2007:14. Latin America has been much more
affected than Africa. Before 2005, China and Latin America both had
a quarter share of the US clothing market. In 2006, China's share
climbed to 30%; Latin America's declined to 18%. Ibid.
Gumisai Mutume, "Loss of Textile Market Costs African Jobs,"
Africa Renewal 20(1) (2006):18-22; Kaplinsky and Morris, "The
Impact . . ." 2006:34.
John Miller, "Nike to the Rescue? Africa Needs Better Jobs, Not
Sweatshops," Dollars & Sense,
21,2006. About 85% of cloth used in African apparel
exports to the US is made with third country,
mainly Chinese, fabric. "Textile Sector: AGOA –
its Future in Africa". L'Express
(Mauritius), Aug. 3,
2005; "Kituyi's Vision for Africa's Place in
Global Trade." EAS, May 30, 2006.
Job shrinkage in T&C industries has been ongoing in many parts
of the world: the Scottish textiles industry employed 57,000 in
1984, 34,000 in 1997, and 22,000 in 2005. Hamish Rutherford,
"Quality Replace Quantity in Scottish Textiles," The
Scotsman, Feb. 14, 2007:40.
"Textiles No Longer Hanging by a Thread," IRIN, July 3, 2006;
Stephanie Hanes, "Hey, Nice Clothes, But are They Ethical,"
Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 13, 2006:1; "Textile
Producers Get a Boost from Trade Bill . . ," allAfrica.com, Dec.
Maminirinarivo, "The Textile and Clothing Industry of Madagascar,"
in Jauch and Traub-Merz, The Future . . . 2006:178-192;
"A Nice Dairy Tale," Economist, Dec. 9, 2006;
"International Textile Markets Rushing on for Eco-Friendly
Fabrics," World Trade Review, Apr. 1-15, 2007; "Madagascar:
Outlook for 2007-08: Economic Growth," Economist Intelligence
Unit, Mar. 7, 2007.
"Moroccan Textiles Manufacturers . . ." Reuters (TV), Mar. 28,
Traub-Merz, "The African Textile . . .," 2006:17, 25. South
Africa's unions estimated 60,000-70,000 jobs lost, but the
University of Cape Town School of Economics found only a third of
that number disappeared; other jobs were informalized. Dave Marrs,
"Chinese Textile Quotas a Case of Too Little, Too Late," BD,
Nov. 13, 2006. The decline of Swaziland's (Taiwanese-owned) T&C
industry began in 2003, due to rand appreciation. "Swaziland: No
End in Sight for Job Losses," IRIN, June 8, 2006.
Kaplinsky, "The Impact . . .," 2006:13.
"Lesotho Shows . . .," 2006. See also Kaplinsky, "The Impact
. . .," 2006:13, 26.
Lumengo Bonga-Bonga, "China Can Help Revive the African Textile
Industry," Univers Foreign Affairs, December 7, 2006,
E-mail message from Prof. Bonga-Bonga, April 4, 2007.
"Quotas on Chinese Textile-Clothing Imports Start," China
Monitor (South Africa) No. 14 (Jan. 2007):16. Quotas were eased
from March, 2007 because some T&C manufactures could no longer
get fabric from China, leading to job losses quotas were intended to
prevent. Mathabo Le Roux, "Minister Rows Back on Chinese
Imports," BD, Mar. 29, 2007:1. South African unions do however
deem the quotas a success. "High Hopes as New Talks Start in
Clothing Industry," Business Times, May 13, 2007.
"China to Make More Efforts to Help Africa Develop Textile
Industry," XH, Oct. 18, 2006; "E-TV Interview . . . 2006.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asian Foreign Direct
Investment in Africa: Towards a New Era of Cooperation (New
York: United Nations, 2007):12, 19, 51, 56-57. For FDI stocks in
Africa by source region, see Stephen Thomsen, "Foreign Direct
Investment in Africa: the Private-Sector Response to Improved
Governance," Chatham House Briefing Paper, IEP BP 05/006:3.
"China Plays Increasing Role in Continent's Development," IPS,
May 17, 2007.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, World
Investment Report 2005 (New York: UN).
UNDP, Asian Foreign . . . 2007:55-56.
See, e.g., Brautigam and Gaye, "Is Chinese Investment . . ..,"
"Africa to be more Attractive for Chinese Investors," XH, Feb.
e.g., Trofimov, "In Africa . . .," 2007; Olin Freeman, "Africa
Discovers Dark Side of its New Colonial Master," Sunday
Telegraph, Feb. 4, 2007; Robyn Dixon, "Africans Lash Out at
Chinese Employers," LAT, Oct. 6, 2006; Roy Carroll, "China's
Goldmine," Guardian, Mar.28, 2006.
Alastair Fraser and John Lungu, For Whom the Windfalls: Winners
and Losers in the Privatisation of Zambia's Copper Mines
(Lusaka: Civil Society Trade Network of Zambia and Catholic Centre
for Justice, Peace and Development, 2007).
Christian Aid, A Rich Seam: Who Benefits from Rising Commodity
Prices (London: CA, 2007):21.
Dixon, "Africans Lash . . . ," 2006.
John Craig, "Putting Privatisation into Practice: the Case of
Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Limited," Journal of Modern
African Studies 30:3 (2001):389-410; Christian Aid, A Rich
Seam . . . 2007:21.
Fraser and Lungu, For Whom . . . , 2007:48.
Charlotte Mathews, "Metorex Ramps Up its Copper Exposure," BD,
Feb. 5, 2007; "Zambia: Conflict Looms Over Revision of Mineral
Tax," Inter Press Service, Nov. 15, 2005.
"State Gets $71 Million Tax from Mines," Times of Zambia,
Feb. 22, 2007.
Christian Aid, A Rich Seam . . ., 2007:22.
Chris McGreal, "Chinese Influx Revives Colonial Fears,"
Guardian, Feb. 9, 2007.
Zambia Opposition Chief Files Complaint Over Amin Comparison, AFP,
Sept. 17, 2006.
Amos Malupeng and Brighton Phiri, "Sata Visits Taiwan," The
Post (Lusaka), Feb. 6, 2007.
Ni Yangshuo. 2006. "Servir d'intermediaire pour Faciliter les
Rapports entre la Chine et le Nigeria" (To
serve as an intermediary to facilitate rapport between
China and Africa), Chinafrique.
UNDP, Asian Foreign . . . 2007:59-60; Craig Timberg, "From
Competitors to Trade Partners," Washington Post, Dec. 3,
World Bank, Global Development Finance Report (Washington:
Ernest Harsch, "Foreign Investment on Africa's Agenda," Africa
Recovery 17:2 (July, 2003):12-16; "Encouraging Businesswomen
in Africa," 2002, www.cipe.org/publications/overseas0002/features/
encouraging.html (profitability for US affiliates in Africa 25% in
1997, but 12% worldwide).
UNDP, Asian Foreign . . . , 2007:57-59.
"China Cobalt Firms Mull Congo Plants After Export Ban,"
Reuters, May 9, 2007.
Shashank Bengali, "An African Building Boom Made in China," Star
Tribune (Minneapolis), Sept. 18, 2006:13A.
James K. Jackson, "US Direct Investment Abroad: Trends and Current
Issues," Congressional Research Service, 2006:3
US Department of Commerce, "US-African . . . ,"2006:13. For
statistics on various Western oil firms' investments in Africa,
see He Wenping, "Zhong Fei Guanxi Fazhan Chudongle Sheide
Shenjing" (Whose Nerve has the Development of China-African
Relations Touched), Shijie Zhishi No. 19 (2006): 30-32.
"Good Man in Africa," China Daily, May 11, 2007.
Kevin Kerr, "Into Africa: Commentary: China's Tentacles Reach
Throughout the Continent," MarketWatch, Jan. 9, 2007,
Will Hutton, "Does the Future Really Belong to China?" Prospect
William Hartung and Frida Berrigan, "Militarization of U.S.
Africa Policy, 2000-2005," World Policy
Institute Arms Trade Center,
"African States Urged to Maintain Stability," EAS, May 6, 2004;
Nick Mathiason, "Western Bankers and Lawyers ‘Rob Africa of
$150bn Every Year,'" Independent, Jan. 21, 2007, p.1;
Africa All Party Parliamentary Group, The Other Side of the Coin:
the UK and Corruption in Africa (London: AAPPG, 2006):20;
"$11.5 Trillion Siphoned Offshore," Public Agenda
(Ghana), Mar 10, 2006,
We discuss the African brain drain to the developed world and the
training of African professionals in China in Barry Sautman and Yan
Hairong, "Friends and Interests: China's Distinctive Links with
Africa," forthcoming in African Studies Review (Sept.
An example is the pervasive, but erroneous, notion that China
dominates Sudan and Zimbabwe, while protecting their governments
against a Western drive for "democracy and human rights." See
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong, East Mountain Tiger, West Mountain
Tiger: China, the West and ‘Colonialism' in Africa
(Baltimore: University of Maryland Series on Contemporary Asian
Studies, no. 182, 2007).
Claudia Anyaso, "Remarks at the China in Africa Today Seminar,"
US Department of State, March 6, 2007,
While aid policies are beyond this paper's scope, China, a
developing country, has given Africa $44b in aid over the past fifty
years and 44% of China's foreign aid is devoted to Africa. Less
than 1% of the US aid budget is spent in sub-Saharan Africa.
Clarissa Oon, "Hu's Third Visit to Africa Keeps Close Ties
Going," Straits Times (Singapore), Jan. 25, 2007; "Comoran
President Praises China-Africa Cooperation as Model," XH, Oct. 23,
2006; Torcuil Crichton, "When it Comes to Africa, Bush has More on
his Mind than Aid," Sunday Herald (Scotland), June 12,
"China Means Well in Africa – Ngatjizeko," The Namibian,
Apr. 3, 2007.
Taylor, "Chinese Aid . . ." 2007.
See Emma Mawdsley, "China and Africa: Emerging Challenges to the
Geographies of Power,"
Geography Compass 1
(2007):1-17; Paul Moorcraft,"Why Beijing is Winning in Africa."
BD, Feb. 2, 2007.
An African newspaper editor has written that "the noise about
China closing its eyes to atrocities in Sudan and Zimbabwe is but a
minor distraction . . . The US and Britain have in the past
supported regimes not much different because it suited their
purposes. And should getting access to local resources require
looking the other way as atrocities are committed (like the case in
Nigeria), look away they will. Looking at US alliances with
authoritarian governments in Africa, one can see that what plays
best to the media is not always what works best in the world of
realpolitik." "A Scramble for the Continent that We May Not Gain
From," EAS, Mar. 27, 2007.