One suggestion I made in last week’s blog was that China might begin to do more to regulate smaller Chinese actors whose behaviour could serve to damage Beijing’s strategic interests. Ghana’s stable politics, relatively low corruption environment and new found oil wealth make the country an attractive partner for China. However complaints over poor working and environmental practices of Chinese firms, and over perceived damage to Ghanaian industry due to Chinese imports, have created a negative perception.
These complaints are similar to those in Zambia. In addition the opposition NPP party have begun to complain of irregularities in the president’s relationship with Beijing, especially surrounding the $3bn infrastructure loan agreed between Beijing and Accra. Beijing therefore has cause to worry that a populist political campaign might target China’s involvement, as in Zambia.
Interestingly this week Xie Yajing, Commercial Counsellor for West Asia and African Department of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, called this week for Chinese companies in Ghana to be held to account (full article). Ms Xie called for sanctions on Chinese outfits which fail to operate at sufficient standards, and called for disgruntled Ghanaians to make their case to the Chinese embassy in Accra. While it seems unlikely that this process will be carried through, it is nonetheless interesting that Chinese officials should take this stance.