Weekly news

News round-up: 8 June 2013 to 21 June 2013


CAN comment: The controversy over the Chinese small scale miners detained in Ghana has continued over the last few weeks as Chinese web users have reacted angrily calling for reprisals from the government. This nationalistic response sees a reasoned critique in the article above. Speaking about the poor environmental and labour practices involved the author writes, “Chinese companies and individuals, legal or illegal, are not intentionally doing this to African countries. They have been doing things this way in China for several decades. They actually don’t know any other way.” This is the product of China’s strange juxtaposition between developing country and superpower, where it has power to project its influence all over the world, but not necessarily the power to contain it.

CAN comment:  A welcome antidote to frequent articles berating China for its role in Africa, this article highlights a wonderful innovation from The Low Cost Health Programme Centre at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology.  This is the truest ideal of south-south cooperation, that China’s developing world status helps it to understand how to develop appropriate technologies for the developed world. This project will deliver transport container based hospitals staffed by Chinese trained African doctors, delivered to remote areas of Africa in need of health services.

CAN comment: This blog is one of a number of recent articles claiming that the reaction to poor small scale mining practices in Zambia and Ghana, and comments from African leaders (particularly Nigeria Central Banker Lamido Sanusi) about the risk of Chinese colonialism amount to a backlash against China. However these incidents are not new. It remains the case that Chinese firms employ lower standards than their western equivalents and that they offer vastly cheaper products and financing. These examples of African backlash do not appear to be significant. Chinese companies will continue to win business where they offer the best deal.

CAN comment: A great piece on the China Africa relationship. The article points out that Chinese activity is motivated by need for resources and markets to sustain the country’s growing economy. It also contends that grassroots resentment is a common by-product of foreign investment in developing countries. In Africa specifically, resentment very much depends on the social and economic status of the people involved.

CAN comment: Another interesting Chinese defense of its role in Africa, this time by Yi Gang, deputy governor at the People’s Bank of China. He claims that 2000 Chinese companies have invested in building factories in Africa and also points out that while multinational corporations were pulling out of Africa around 2009 Chinese companies increased their investments, helping the region ride out the economic crisis. Interestingly, the focus of this article is very much on the potential of the relationship to create jobs, something that western firms have always struggled to achieve in any great numbers in Africa.

CAN comment: This great post provides fascinating detail on how Chinese small scale miners came to be in Ghana, and why their practices have brought such a negative reaction. The miners are predominantly from Shanglin county of Guangxi province, but have led a nomadic lifestyle since the gold reserves of the county were exhausted. The mining firms work in a highly organised manner generating significant funds for Ghanaian landowners, but employing mainly Chinese workers smuggled through Liberia, and paying Ghanaian workers poorly. Much of the wealth is taken back to China meaning Ghanaians see very little benefit.

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