Well, the Chinese foreign minister is out of our airspace and on route to another African destination, leaving us a shiny new ministerial building, worth almost nine million dollars and a lot of other goodies to nibble on.
With another undisclosed Chinese cheque coming our way, in addition to the $7.8 million they gave us last year. Here is a situation where a developing nation is actually doing something positive for its sister nations.
And I’ve become particularly armoured with the Chinese because they aren’t as fickle as some of our hitherto allies like the Dutch and the Swedes. I have nothing against those two countries; after all, they have been good friends of Rwanda.
But just to prove the point that they are fair weather friends, as soon as they heard about the UN report about Rwanda’s alleged, and I repeat, alleged, involvement in the Democratic Republic of Congo they scampered off, with their aid money.
All just because they didn’t want to be seen by their electorate as pandering to the needs of “child trafficking, warlord supporting Africans”.
After all, that’s what the UN experts called us. But did the Chinese run off? Nope. In fact, they rubbed the West’s nose and dished out a bit more of their Yuan’s in our direction.
Western governments and human rights organisations are not comfortable with the increased Chinese involvement in our continent.
They say that China’s march is tantamount to another type of colonialism; that Chinese companies are out bidding Western companies for lucrative African contracts; that the Chinese offer no-strings aid, a marked contrast to Western donors who impose conditions on aid and tie trade sweeteners to human rights issues and that China’s approach has emboldened unsavoury governments, allowing them to ignore Western calls for reform, safe in the knowledge that Beijing will take up the slack.
Certainly, some of the consequences of Chinese’s march are regrettable. After all, they are the main buyer of Sudanese crude oil and Zimbabwean minerals. And, as any right thinking person will concur, al-Bashir and Mugabe aren’t the kinds of leaders that we’d like to see being supported.
The people of Darfur, who are being bombarded by the military planes that the army bought with Chinese money, and Zimbabwean, who are being ravaged by cholera and police brutality, probably wish that the Chinese kept their money in their own coffers, or better yet, in the US economy-which is imploding, dragging the world down along with it.
But let’s be honest here; it’s not as if the West has been saintly as these years. It’s rather galling to see the same nations kicking and screaming about al-Bashir and Mugabe, while they conveniently forget about Pinochet, Mobutu, Amin, the Apartheid regime…“should I go further”?
You get my point. It seems as if they are saying that it’s okay to support unsavoury characters...as long as your skin isn’t of a yellow hue. And God forbid that a black person should do the exploiting; that would be a travesty of the ‘natural order of things’!
So, as a poor exploited African, here is my mind. While I’d love to be truly independent, without having to need people building my ministry’s, airports, hospitals and roads, I cant do it all myself. So, if I have to be a beggar I’ll have to do so on my own terms; if, of course, a beggar can be a chooser.
So, if the Chinese are giving me aid, without giving me both heartburn and a headache (unlike some folks who I will have the good manners not to name)…I’ll have to take my chances with the men from the east.