News blog: 06/04/2010

Another busy week of news on the China Africa front, most of all from FOCAC who have published a number of interesting articles this week regarding various new projects and efforts. The most interesting was its pledge to increase value added imports from South Africa. On major criticism of China’s role on the continent has been its un equal relationship, extracting primary resources which offer only low wage labour to Africans, while exporting value added goods which out compete nascent African brands. This could be seen as another example of government efforts to improve its reputation.

Too often the role of China in Africa is seen as overly monolithic. Therefore its was particularly interesting to read Peter Bosshard’s piece on Pambazuka News regarding International Rivers negotiations with Sinohydro Corporation. Having met with Sinohydro’s management he was told that Sinohydro would make stronger efforts to improve their environmental performance, and so far this has been honoured. This article illuminates Chinese actors new willingness to interact with international civil society, and improve their reputations.

In more traditional realist international politics, the visit of Zambian President Rupiah Banda to China was reported with interest in the Lusaka Times. With elections looming in 2011 the article suggests that China will be coming down heavily on the side on the incumbent MMD. Banda’s opponent Micheal Sata fought the 2007 election on an anti China mandate and has aligned himself with Taiwan. This article was fascinating in its illumination of China’s likely role in influencing African elections. Its well worth a read.

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