Lessons Learned from China in Africa: While America-And the World-Sit Idly by, the Asian Superpower Is Slowly and Quietly Cementing Its Place on the Continent ... and in History

By Brea, Jennifer | Ebony, January 2008 | Go to article overview

Lessons Learned from China in Africa: While America-And the World-Sit Idly by, the Asian Superpower Is Slowly and Quietly Cementing Its Place on the Continent ... and in History


Brea, Jennifer, Ebony


Mr. Zhang is grinning at me from under his straw hat, the kind of hat that would better place him on a Chinese rice paddy than a dusty chicken farm in Zambia. I've just asked him how much money he makes--a polite question among Chinese, especially Chinese who are clearly prospering.

"I sell 10,000 chickens a month," he says, laughing like a man who can hardly believe his good fortune. "15,000 kwacha a chicken!"

That means Zhang, who rents this chicken farm, is grossing an average of $480,000 a year. Even after paying his Zambian workers, the Chinese landlord and the costs of running a commercial farm, it's a fortune for a peasant from Jiangxi Province, where the average rural is less than $400. And he's not alone. While the West continues to look at Africa as a charity case, hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese are flocking to Africa to capitalize on the continent's vast stores of untapped opportunity.

Leading that charge is the Chinese government, whose high-profile wooing of Africa has inspired both hope and fear: hope that China's arrival heralds the end of decades of economic stagnation and Western paternalism, fear that beneath the rhetoric of friendship lurks a new colonial intent.

While it's still far from evident what impact China's engagement with Africa will have, for good or for evil, what is clear is the central role the Chinese believe Africa will play in their future. The numbers speak volumes. At the 2006 Sino-African summit, which brought nearly every African head of state to Beijing, President Hu Jintao inked $1.9 billion in new business deals, pledged $5 billion in aid and loans, and promised to double aid to Africa by 2009. Trade between China and Africa has nearly quadrupled in the last six years, jumping from $10.8 billion in 2000 to nearly $56 billion in 2006, making China the continent's third largest trading partner. China's goal is for trade to reach $100 billion by 2010.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

The Chinese government often points out its money comes without "internal meddling" or the kinds of strict conditions imposed by Western lenders. Of course, that money isn't exactly free either. Aid and loan packages are used to secure state-owned enterprises access to the oil, mining, timber and other natural resources feeding China's industrial miracle. China has been quick to meddle where they shouldn't--it threatened to withdraw all investment from Zambia if Michael Sata, the pro-Taiwan opposition candidate, won the last presidential election--and slow to exercise influence where it might save lives, like helping end the genocide in Darfur.

But China's involvement in Africa is more than just a resource grab. New private businesses and entrepreneurs are coming in, drawn by the potential of Africa's growing market.

Nowhere is the lure of Africa as a market more evident than in Guangzhou, where hundreds of manufacturers and wholesalers from around China come to market their products to African traders. They are selling not only T-shirts and cell phones, but Afro-style wigs, hair extensions and the wax batik prints ubiquitous in West Africa. More and more Chinese are catering to the tastes of African consumers, and the reason is simple.

"The African market is slowly but steadily growing," says Guang Ming, a Guangzhou textile wholesaler who last year started dealing exclusively in African-style batik and lace. "Africans are starting to have money."

While it's not entirely clear how fast the fortunes of the average African consumer are improving, Africa is in the midst of its own economic miracle. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates sub-Saharan Africa's growth rate reached 6.7 percent in 2007, the highest since 1974, thanks in no small part to Chinese investment and natural resource demand.

And the Chinese are betting their money on that brighter future. In October, the state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world's richest bank, bought a 20 percent stake in South Africa's Standard Bank. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Lessons Learned from China in Africa: While America-And the World-Sit Idly by, the Asian Superpower Is Slowly and Quietly Cementing Its Place on the Continent ... and in History
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.