China: The New Imperialist

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It was late one night in Nairobi; I remember I had just landed a few hours prior. And, all I wanted to do was to watch some TV and relax. After saying my ‘goodnights’ to the family that evening, I decided to try and find a movie or something of value to watch so I could fall asleep. I remember flipping through the channels and coming across this evangelistic channel which had the preachers speaking in chinese with swahili subtitles. Now, this would not have been so odd, if I was not in Nairobi, Kenya. My understanding was that the presences of foreigners were solely inclusive to Westerners, and nobody else. So, the fact the Chinese, who has only been in Kenya for less than two years prior to my arrival were rather bold enough to have their own channel on the kenyan network was a statement on its own.

China’s approach to Africa has been based on the appeal factor that they claimed “to belong with Africans to the ‘Third World’, a category which has traditionally been defined racially (as non-white) and historically (as formerly colonised) unlike Europeans or Americans, who have been traditional labelled as imperialist. China, for the last several years has become an expanding and aggressive force within the African markets as China need African resources to feed its economic growth as well as its rapid industrialisation process. However, we must not view China as being anything less than imperialistic like their European or American counterparts. The fact of the matter is that in-exchange for Africa’s natural resources, the Chinese have dumped billions of its manufactured products into Africa, as well as their human export, thus robbing the Africans of job and also drowning the African markets with cheap labour and products. The increase of China presences in Africa further promotes an example of what ‘new imperialism’ is, rather than providing a sustainable source of development for Africans, they have placed them in a position where African resources are once again being exploited but also various states are left politically as well as economically dependent on Chinese aid.

Since the increase of Chinese presences, Africans have been faced with various newspaper headlines describing the problematic existence of Chinese businesses, aid and essentially anything pertaining to their presence. However, with China’s rise as a revolutionizing economic superpower, Africa represents a source of raw material, especially crude oil that will aid their expansion. Africa, yet again becomes a stoning stone for another nation to prosper.

The reality is that China is not a conventional aid donor, rather they are single-mindedly in pursuit of economic interests. They have contributed to the infrastructure of many African nations, but it appears these investments are only to aid them. The freeways and railways that they have invested in generally lead straight to the oil field, or to the diamond or copper mines that they own. So even though these projects may appear to aid as well as increase the nation’s GDP, they do very little to help improve the living standards of the people, nor do they provide means to support the country’s own industries. The aid given to African nations by the Chinese regime simply does not help ensure a broader impact to the African nations but rather it provides a short term benefit for African and a long term profit for China.

China’s dominance in Africa can easily be seen a form of a second scramble for Africa’s resources similar to that of the past. However, it crucial to note that it was not so long ago were Africa was deemed as a hopeless continent, now with China investing in crucial development infrastructure, it is evident that despite their corrupt and misguided reasoning, their approach will have a better impact in Africa in the next 50 years than the West had in the previous 50 years. The fact of the matter is that the built infrastructure can never be taken away in case Africans decide to one day kick the Chinese out.

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