News on the Chinese hostage situation in Sudan seems to have further muddied the waters as the BBC reports that one of the two missing Chinese oil workers in Sudan has been found. Reports on the 30th of October suggested that there was now only one hostage held captive, after four had been killed, and four had escaped. Beijing will be pleased to avoid further embarrassment over its relations with Khartoum but this story may well roll on a little longer if there is indeed one more hostage being held. Kenyan news sources picked up on the indifference of Africans to the situation, suggesting that if Kenya and its neighbours expect continued support from China as a development partner, they might need to show greater concern for the welfare of its visitors.
Metals prices have rebounded slightly this month despite the downward trend in their value over the last few months. Reports blamed the global financial crisis for falling levels of manufacturing in China, which have resulted in the prices decreasing. However Chinese interest in metal producing African nations remains, even in DR Congo where troubles in the Rwandan border region abound. British and French foreign ministers have called for action to avert what could become the worst example of UN inaction since the Rwandan genocide in 1994. China having recently agreed a $9bn dollar resource agreement with DRC might be expected to support the stabilizing of its resource partner. The deal includes the building of roads, railways, hospitals and universities, which will presumably be impossible without a cessation of hostilities.
China is experiencing the pit falls of its infrastructure for resource agreements in Sub Saharan Africa especially acutely in Nigeria, where the Federal government has continued its recent confrontational style with China, by threatening to cancel deals for oil blocks agreed with China National Offshore Oil Corporation under the previous Obasanjo regime. The preferential agreements reached under his presidency have been revoked as Nigeria demands that the cost of the rail development project are reduced, and payments required by the Nigerian constitution be made in full by their Chinese and Korean partners.
In South Africa cheap Chinese imported cars are bucking the trend for falling vehicle purchases and have reported decent sales figures over recent months. FAW, China’s largest vehicle manufacturer had also announced plans to launch in the South African market, but its plans to import fully assembled cars might anger critics calling for Chinese companies to do more of their manufacturing in Africa. One company which has been conscious of this criticism is Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant which was recently confirmed as the 5th largest in the world according to Fortune magazine. Company policy dictates that 58% of staff in overseas offices must be hired locally. The company has enjoyed great success in emerging markets with technological innovation its strong point.