LET’S NOT romanticise any international relations; all are (or should be anyway) about the interest each party derives from those relations – nothing more, nothing less. China is stepping up its links with Africa out of self-interest.
The West use the language of human rights and good governance when railing against China’s growing economic and commercial relations with Africa, but this is poppycock.
Their real concern is Chinese economic competition on a continent they have hitherto considered their preserve. From their perspective, this Chinese competition is the more damaging to their hitherto oligopolistic hold on African natural resources and growing markets as China has, so far, desisted from their own false moralisation of its relations with African countries, sticking to pure business.
It has not escaped any African government that this is a much more preferable business model than the one that comes with incessant hypocritical hectoring from a Western world to which we owe a lot for our under-development, not least as a result of their continued stranglehold on our governments.
Think of the enduring system popularly known as Françafrique which continues to give us the likes of the Central African Republic, or the Western assassination of Patrice Lumumba and their subsequent support of the kleptomaniac Mobutu, both direct contributory causes of the Congo’s failure of governance.
Yes, China is stepping up its links with Africa out of pure self-interest, but I see nothing wrong with that.
I would in fact be very suspicious if China tried to claim it was doing so for some kind of altruistic motive. What individual African governments need to do is to determine how best they can maximise the opportunities offered by China’s increased interest in the continent, including using it as an effective leverage in our countries’ dealings with our old colonial masters.
Mwene Kalinda, Rwanda
Reaction to the article, “US conditional trade vs China unconditional love for Africa” (Sunday Times, February 9).