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Could China Be Fueling the Next African Enslavement?

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Chinese investment activity in Africa has skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing every other nation except South Africa. China finances more infrastructure projects in Africa than the World Bank and provides billions of dollars in low-interest loans to the continent’s emerging economies. However these loans don’t come without collateral and we would be headed to the modern colonialism where china will be dictating terms as Africans are good in defaulting and pushing the repayment deadlines, We have recently seen the Srilankan port being taken over and run by the Chinese since the government couldn’t replay in time.

On the other hand a fake narrative suggests that chinese loans and investments are typically made in exchange for securing access to natural resources. Based on its principles of nonintervention and respect for sovereignty, China gives this money with little or no strings attached. The West, which typically conditions its loans on initiatives like democracy promotion and corruption reduction, has labeled China a “rogue donor,” whose actions will be damaging to Africa in the long run. However, Western aid approaches like conditionality have largely been development failures. The Chinese model, with no colonial past or explicit political agenda, is a legitimate challenger to the Western aid status-quo. However the China exports their people to run the project reporting directly the development banks making it mandatory for African to pay the loans by hook or crook.

China is merely the largest and first free leader of a growing cohort of developing countries interested in Africa’s commodities. These new investors have the option to adopt wholly China’s unconditioned approach or a more responsible engagement strategy. What all players are beginning to realize is that ultimately Africans themselves must decide what form they want this increased investment attention to take. It won’t be strange to see other players in the game starting to approach African Political Readers for deals. The types of promises that the Chinese leadership offers to create such enthusiastic welcome among African political leaders are linked closely to the discourse on South–South cooperation. Albeit different from Western development assistance promises and parallel attempts to produce moderate expectations, the current discourse is thus partly sowing the seeds for future disappointment.

Chinese engagement in African states has increased tremendously over the last decade, much in line with Chinese globalisation strategies and supported by state encouragement and financial support. The size and potential of China as a world power leads to the level of expectations the country faces from the developing world. However, some elements of these expectations are also created through political discourses which emphasise differences with Western countries. However in my view I find it rhetorical to talk o mutual benefits features (‘mutual benefit’; ‘non-interference’) and at the practice of this cooperation. China is generally moving out its resources and looking for ways to strengthen itself as the next superpower. This will be achieved when at least 90% of African countries will be struggling in grants and loans repaying and Chinese invasion will be inevitable.

It is dubious that Beijing has the capacity or capability to creating successful business models and handing them over to Africans after completion however every one concludes otherwise just like we have seen on the case of Zambia where their airport is in the hands of the Chinese. That in itself is a true testimony that the Chinese discourse is creating large public expectations in African countries, but without proper research on how the African Governments will cover the running and repayment costs and while China delivers on many projects, its impact on development is less certain. The overall development success of this strategy builds on longer-term success and is implicitly linked to the occurrence of more reforms in Africa. Chinese policy thus ‘bets on the future’ in their foreign relations with Africa; the success of this strategy is dependent on political circumstances among the partners that are largely beyond Chinese control. In a number of cases, it can thus be expected that currently up-beat political rhetoric is going to meet obstacles that will require adjustments in a discourse that, in its current form, might undermine Chinese credibility if not the core elements of South–South cooperation altogether.

My concern is Kenyan under the Chinese as we all agree that all these will add up to is a picture of China taking away Africa’s precious resources and polluting the local environment. This is certainly not a pleasant picture, but is it the whole picture? Probably not. Many Africans have undoubtedly benefited  directly and indirectly from more than $20 billion of aid Beijing has provided over the years: roads, railways, hospitals, stadiums, plus medical staff, engineers, and other professional personnel. Additionally, trade with and investment from China must have created hundreds of thousands of local jobs. Also, by the end of 2016 China had established 48 Confucius Institutes in 38 African countries and 27 Confucius Classrooms in 15 countries. The number of African students in China reached nearly 60,000 in 2015.  But don’t forget that china is also employing their staff in African countries under their terms and condition under our sponsorship and payments.

Perhaps in my conclusion I should look at the stories I have been exposed to as a skewed sample, which do not necessarily represent the views of the average Kenyans or Africans. As the aphorism in journalism goes, “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, but if a man bites a dog, that is news.” Thus bad stories about China may have crowded out good stories about China in both African and Western media outlets. Maybe the views of a vocal minority, both within and outside Africa, which is highly critical of increasing Chinese economic and political presence and influence are widely publicized, while those of the silent majority particularly the beneficiaries of China-Africa economic ties are ignored or dismissed. Dear African Politicians be were as this could be the Beijing plan to enslave African at the long run, working in Africa, eat Africa and finally get profits for leaping them off. There is no any other more modern enslavement that we are waiting for. This is time Africans decide their future to hold back China.

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