5 March 2005
This week, BBC’s Africa Live goes east – to examinethe relationship between Africa and China, one of the world’s fastest growing economies.
Economic and political links between China and Africago back a long way, but the ties have deepened overthe past five years.
In Timbuktu, Durban or Nairobi, in almost every African market, you can buy something Chinese – cloth, rice, radios and cooking pots.
Africa’s football fans watch their teams play in stadiums built by the Chinese; while Tanzanian and
Zambian traders travel between the two countries on a railway laid down by Chinese workers. In Liberia, the peace is kept partly by Chinese soldiers.
Africa Live is asking: What’s your experience: Do you prefer to buy Chinese? Can Africa learn lessons from China’s rapid economic development?
Will economic ties with China be the springboard for an African renaissance? Or is China the new
imperialist power on the continent?
Here is a selection of your comments:
The question one must ask is: ‘At whose expense is China exporting its goods to Africa?’ If this
relationship hurts African owned businesses, then it needs to be revised. If the imported goods are
complementary and hence improve consumption of locally produced goods, then I say we should make the relationship even stronger.
Fikre Bizuneh, Ethiopia
Africa should turn away from the West and focus on building a strong relationship with China. China is
not and has never been an imperialist nation.
Ebrima Badjie, Ottawa, Canada
It’s a good start that China has never enslaved or colonised any Africans.
Kustaa Punkari, Finland
I buy Chinese products because there is no ‘Made in Africa’. African markets are flooded with Chinese
products and, as such, we are stuck with them. No economy will grow without a ready market and so Africa will always be a dumping ground for industrialised countries. But China could be a role model for Africa, if only African countries are willing to learn. Forging ties with China could be a stepping stone for Africa to improve economically and lift its citizens out of poverty.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA.
Africa should not embrace China just like that. It should rather build a mutual relationship in the fields of science and technology, trade and commerce, and finally politics. China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world; its 1.3 billion people would be a good market for African products.
Dr. Ibrahim Dagane Ali, Manila, Philippines
I live in Miami, Florida where we have a strongChinese presence. Stores sell Chinese products from
ceramics to plastic cups for just 99 cents. Without a doubt, China will be a power in the 21st Century.
Whether that is a good thing or not, only time can tell.
Roberto, Miami, Florida
China has proved that she cannot be ignored by any developing country. Her good public relations and expertise have endeared her to African nations, especially my country Nigeria. The Chinese have
delivered effectively when awarded contracts. Their projects are amongst the best-handled and no
right-thinking business person will ignore a good company for an inferior one. I warmly embrace their
foray into Africa — unless they change overnight for the worst.
Fidelis Mbah, Abuja, Nigeria
Africa should embrace China. China has a lot to teach Africa, because it has adroitely used its resources and leadership to establish itself in the world. A few years ago China was the subject of ridicule. Today it is a country that is on the brink of self sufficiency to the extent that it now holds several billions of dollars of US government bonds. It recently became the number one consumer of world resources, eclipsing the US. China is on the rise.; momentum is on her side and it would be a mistake not to embrace it.
Adolf Bruce, Painted Post, NY, USA
I would first of all like to commend China for its exquisite work and endless efforts to return peace to
my country Liberia, and also for helping other African countries improve their economy. China is a true friend and always wants to go the extra mile for the poor because she was once in the same situation. She is not the type of country that will take advantage of developing countries. Instead, she comes in with the intention of helping the host countries.
Marck K. Davies, Alexandria, Virginia
China has always been Africa’s best economic partner and will continue to be for many years to come.
However, when will Chinese citizens buy African goods? Our African governments are still blind when it comes to implementing proper economic policies that will allow Africans to learn from China’s growing economy. Our small and medium businesses are making themselves dependent on the Chinese economy. The catastrophe will happen when China will start controlling Africa financially as the Europeans and Americans are doing now. Should this happens, Africa will be dead and buried financially.
Jean-Paul Muana, Congolese in UK
I don’t think China will be the new imperialist power like many western countries because China has learned a lot from mistakes made by the old imperialist powers who came to Africa. Africa can learn from China about how to develop a self-sufficient society. We can also learn how to make the transition from socialist or dictatorial rule to a more democratic society without risking the country sliding into civil war.
Guled, Mogadisho, Somalia