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Friday, 26 August 2011

Documentary: The Chinese Are Coming

Trade between China and Africa has exploded in these past few decades. The first country shown in the documentary; Angola is China's no.1 supplier of oil, so this is definitely not a one-sided trade.

This documentary shows the dynamics between the Chinese workers and Africans, the positives and negatives.

Where does this boom in interest leave other Africans looking for work, where does this reliance on Chinese trade leave the Chinese?

Many westerners are starting to feel the pressure of competing with these Chinese companies, and this is understandable, but are we (as Africans) just doing what we did a century ago with relations with the westerners? 

Is this relationship sustainable? Are they truly contributing towards the development of our nation? 

Documentary summary:
"Travelling across three continents, Justin Rowlatt investigates the spread of Chinese influence around the planet and asks what the world will be like if China overtakes America as the world’s economic superpower. In the first of two films, he embarks on a journey across Southern Africa to chart the extraordinary phenomenon of Chinese migration to Africa, and the huge influence of China on the development of the continent.
While many in the West view Africa as a land of poverty, to the Chinese it is seen as an almost limitless business opportunity. From Angola to Tanzania, Justin meets the fearless Chinese entrepreneurs who have travelled thousands of miles to set up businesses.
Justin Rowlatt crosses Brazil and the United States on an epic journey as he continues to investigate the spread of Chinese influence around the planet.
In Rio, local industries, including bikini factories, are threatened by cheap Chinese imports, and in the Amazon, Justin witnesses the phenomenal impact of the Chinese hunger for resources on the indigenous people and the environment.
In the US, from California to the rust belt, Justin encounters the rising undercurrent of American fury over their own decline in the face of competition from China."


My full opinion:

As an African, I can safely say that we are very much aware that we are being exploited. However, we have very few options, those companies and charities that emphasise fair trade rarely actually trade fairly, and charities and aid work have been working in this continent for centuries now - to no avail.. (people don't need food and handouts, they need AFRICAN education that will teach them how to succeed with the environment but most of all they need good governance). For many African countries we CAN do it all by ourselves, that is the physical stuff, we have the resources, and man power we can build our own roads, schools, hospitals, and we do build the majority of them ourselves - BUT we don't have good governance!! You might think that colonialism is the big excuse, but it is no less than the truth. The way Africans govern typically is a tribal matter, our land was divided and different tribes with different outlooks on life were put together, we are very spirtual people and our beliefs do matter to us. All of these traditions that our ancestors held were discouraged, unrewarded and almost abolished after colonialism, so we were forced to adopt a false 'democracy' or government, and the 'colonials' took all of this with them after decades of reigning our countries.

My point is: (sorry to have rambled) :

The Chinese are not in any way contributing to the governance of our countries, and so they are not improving our situation.

They are merely tapping resources back to their homeland.

It may seem selfish to bite the hand that feeds you, but this is the truth, we did it once before, we celebrated in an quick union with the British Empire and when they left, which the Chinese will also ultimately end up doing (as I doubt that they will ever see themselves as Africans), they took it all with them.

Visiting my home country in Africa, I see all of these cheap Chinese products, cheap scratchy plastic bowls, weaning out our bamboo or calabash wooden bowls? We are now in the age of sustainability and renewable resources, these plastic bowls do nothing but litter our land..

It's really sad that my nation is looking for quick fixes.

Also, the Chinese immigrants and companies often offer labour at ridiculously competitive prices, and out compete local trade, which can't afford to compromise on costs, many have gone out of business, this is definitely not sustainable - like I mentioned, what will happen when the Chinese leave?? Where will our own tradesmen and women go?

Another point is that the Chinese respect their culture, but to the extreme that they rarely integrate into other cultures or partake. There will be Chinatowns within these African countries, and they will live segragated from the citizens. I have read reports that some of these Chinese businessmen and women only buy from Chinese stores, and only eat Chinese food etc.. talk about integrating.

Also one more point is that many smart Chinese entrepreneurs have purchased land in the African countries, so that they can inherit when they self brought-on boost occurs in the cost of land.

As an African, it's very uncomforting to know that the land your ancestors were buried on may be owned by a person who is not willing to engage with your culture, who might build a skyscraper, or some strip joint (exaggeration), but may not respect the site, or might be only interested in selling it back to you for as high a price as possible.

These are all my fears for my nation.

I do see one major positive with the Chinese though; they have increased the interest in the endless possibilities available in African countries - Yes India and China are booming, but along with Mumbai, Mexico City, Lagos in Nigeria, West Africa is also one of the world's MEGACITIES, the Chinese are VERY VERY smart, they will increase competition for Westerners who have been ever to comfortable with trading with Africans.

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