Today Reuters published an update on China-Africa strategic partnership as President Hu addressed the opening ceremony of Fifth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing. President Hu called China the “good brother” of Africa and offered $20 billion in loans to African countries.
I was talking to Professor Williams today regarding the possible geopolitical consequences when resource-hungry China runs out of natural resources. One of the possibilities that we talked about was colonizing underdeveloped countries that lack both capital and labour. Today’s news was a perfect example of how lack of sustainable development can force fast growing economies to abuse other countries. In case of China, they’re using African natural resources and polluting their environment. Deborah Brautigam observed the same thing in her book: The Dragon Gift: “Chinese strategy is to tap into Africa’s natural wealth since Chinese growth outpaced its own resources”.
In addition, China is facing severe air and water polution which are serious problems for Chinese agriculture. One way to overcome this problem is to outsource the dirty work to other countries. “We have six hundred rivers in China, four hundred of which have been killed by pollution. We will have to send at least 300 million people to Africa before we begin to see the end of our problems”, an observation made by a Chinese scientist who asked not to be named. This aligns with President Hu’s approach who sees emigration as a good way to lower demographic pressure, economic overheating, and pollution in mainland China (Serge Michel and Michel Beuret; China Safari: On the Trail of Beijing’s Expansion in Africa). This seems like modern colonization but corrupted governments in Africa are fine with it just because of the support they get from Chinese government!