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Hard Hat Show: African Billboards of Beijing

The Sino-African Summit, attended by leaders and representatives of 48 African countries, concluded last weekend.

The big meeting casued several days of tightened security, reduced traffic and frenetic diplomatic activity in Beijing. Plainclothes cops, military police and phalanxes of red-armband wearing grandmothers ensured security around Beijing's five star hotels. The city restricted traffic to make it easy for African and Chinese delegates to move between different meetings. At the the end of it, about two billion US dollars worth of deals had been signed.

Watch the video below for some reactions by Beijingers and Africans living in Beijing, or read on below for comment about the meeting.

A few words about Sino-African relations

Commentary about the Sino-African Summit in the Western media voiced both admiration for and anxiety about China's diplomatic dexterity, and fears that China was engaged in neo-colonialism, or in the propping up of unsavoury dictators.

Your correspondent was involved with the South African delegation, and spent some time talking to delegates from other African countries. The general feeling was that most countries were pleased with the forum. African countries are fully aware of the dangers of being exploited: what the Sino-African Summit has changed is that African countries have been presented with another power to do business with. Whether a relationship with China benefits or harms African countries is ultimately up to those countries themselves. But having another choice aside from Europe and the U.S.A. can only be good. For Africa.

• Danwei has started a new section — China and Africa to track news about Sino-African affairs. You can get news about Afrika United — Beijing's African football team — at Africanboots.com.

Something else you should read about this subject:

We Love China by Lindsey Hilsum
Excerpt:

An African revolution that needs noticing: 'The Chinese are the most voracious capitalists on the continent and trade between China and Africa is doubling every year.'

Sexy Beijing is now on its own website: check the latest episodes at www.sexybeijing.tv

There are currently 5 Comments for Hard Hat Show: African Billboards of Beijing.

Comments on Hard Hat Show: African Billboards of Beijing

I agree that the burden is on African governments to drive a good bargain with China and they often haven't. The really important question is whether the rest of us ever get access to the real terms of the deals, and why it is that our leaders often don't go for the best deal they can. I'm sure we can all think of some of the reasons... Much of the media commentary is very repetitive, still marvelling at the impact/volume/value of the deals and the appearance of such a powerful player on the scene but not moving on to the nuts and bolts. We need the reporting to get a lot better...

I'm still wondering why nobody is talking about the irony of the racism that is inherent in Chinese society and its effect on Sino-African relations. Coming from a large city in the United States, I am shocked and appalled at Chinese attitudes towards Africans. I don't think we should ignore these sentiments when thinking about future relations.

Using the tone of the movie hit "Curse of Golden Flower", this is "满城尽带非洲甲"!

I too am shocked and appalled by the attitude towards white people, even in a major 'mutt demographic' city like Shenzhen where there is no such thing as a local, never mind blacks be them African or otherwise. Bordering Hong Kong, you'd think they'd get used to seeing a white person now and then, but you'd be wrong. In fact today a 6 year old kid came up to me today on the street...yelled "WAIGUOREN!" pointed and then stuck his tongue out at me...I then proceeded of course to give it right back and call him "RIBENREN!"...that'll learn 'em! Anyway, I was glad to see that Danwei mentioned the fact that many of the billboards in fact depicted people from that ever famous African country of Papua New Guinea...oh pardon me, Papua is not an African country at all. You would think that with such a high profile event, the organizing committee behind these posters would have gotten their facts straight, but I suppose this further exemplifies the outright racism and stereotyping that the general Chinese populous is so wonderful at conveying to others. I wonder what the feeling is in the 5 African countries that diplomatically recognize Taiwan as the rightful China...though as I understand it, they have been receiving aid and funding for many years now.

[EDITOR'S NOTE (JG): "this further exemplifies the outright racism and stereotyping..." Perhaps, but the only people I have heard complain about the stereotyping on the posters are white Americans and Europeans.]

I think this video is misleading. I feel the way that Westerners (especially white people) define racism is really amazing. Let's put it simple here, because white people grow up in a racist environment so they think everyone who is talking about race is racist.
To me, a Chinese who study social science in US, I can't identify any racialist sense from this clip. But in your racist eyes, we Chinese become racists. Sometimes, I have to wonder, is the one enter the racist contest a racist or a racist context makes everything racist.
I have to tell you the un-racist China was during Maoist era. Mao called for an alliance among all Third World nations. In that time, we Chinese believed that African people are our communist brothers and sisters.
However, nobody in the West dares to acknowledge Maoist ideology is really the one beyond race.
On the one hand, Westerners are cursing capitalism in China; on the other hand, you are cursing Chinese communist past. You guys did a wonderful job.

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