China and Africa
Posted by Jeremy Goldkorn on Monday, May 28, 2007 at 11:14 AM
Two weeks ago, China hosted the board meeting of the Africa Development Bank (ADB) in Shanghai. Economist Jeffry Sachs attended the meeting and wrote an opinion piece for
Botswana's Festus Mogae - "Bugger all I can do about it"
I had the chance to participate in high-level meetings between Chinese and African officials at the ADB meetings. The advice that the African leaders received from their Chinese counterparts was sound, and much more practical than what they typically get from the World Bank.
Sachs is a controversial figure. This opinion piece is again treading on controversial ground. You can browse the comments at the bottom of Sach's piece (linked above) or the comments on this Peking Duck post about the article to get an idea of typical Western reactions.
Your correspondent can't get rid of the feeling that Westerners, smug because they recently granted their African colonies independence after hundreds of years of exploitative colonialism, may not have the right to lecture China on how to behave in Africa.
In response, below is a transcript of a part of a Channel 4 news piece by Lindsey Hilsum that was broadcast during the China - Africa summit in Beijing in November last year. While the report did note global concerns about China's role in Africa, it also included quotes from interviews with the presidents of Uganda and Botswana.
Yoweri Museveni has been president of Uganda since he took power in 1986 as the head of a national guerilla movement. Initially hugely popular in Uganda and among foreign donors, in more recent years he has attracted criticism from the West because he amended the constitution to allow him to run in the 2006 presidential elections and and imprisoned his main rival.
On the other hand, Botswana's president Festus Mogae and his country — probably the best managed in Africa with a booming economy and highly transparent government — are the African darlings of the West.
This is what the two of them had to say to Lindsey Hilsum about China's involvement in Africa on the Channel 4 news clip:
Hilsum: African presidents and prime ministers, and many of the business people I have been speaking to love the sense that they are being honored, feted by the Chinese. They say it makes such a contrast from the reception they feel they get in the West, as representatives of a failed continent.
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