China’s development over the last three decades has depended heavily on its investment in Africa: it relies on a number of natural resources extracted from Africa, and is also one of the major leasers of land in Africa (which it uses to export crops back to China). In order to facilitate the extraction of natural resources, return, thousands of Chinese workers now live and work in Africa, and the Chinese have developed infrastructure (roads for example) in many African countries.
The Chinese claim that most partnerships between Chinese businesses in Africa are mutually beneficial, a win-win arrangement between the Chinese and the ‘host nation’ – China gets resources, Africans get jobs and development.
Critics, however say that what the Chinese are doing in Africa is just a continuation of colonialism, and another form of neo-colonialism: it is basically a wealthier nation extracting resources as cheaply as possible from desperately poor countries and giving them as little as possible in return.
The three articles below are well worth a read to get an idea about the range of opinion on this matter:
- This Global Policy article: ‘The New Colonialism in Africa’ makes the case (as you can tell by the title) that China are basically neo-colonists
- This Guardian Article is more neutral.
- This Harvard Political Review article seems to take a more sympathetic view towards China, focusing more on the benefits of development for African nations.
Students might like to read through them, compile a list of arguments and evidence for and against the view that China’s involvement in Africa benefits Africa, rather than just China.