mercoledì, febbraio 07, 2007

Perché la Cina sta conquistando l'Africa?

Ecco qui un articolo molto interessate sul ruolo della Cina in Africa. Il tema attualmente è molto inflazionato, anzi direi che è letteralmente esploso: due anni fa cerai di fare una ricerca sul ruolo della Cina in Africa, e non trovai nulla sulla rete. Oggi il problema è il contrario, ossia vagliare le informazioni per selezionare le più affidabili e le meno ripetitive.

L'articolo che vi propongo presenta una prospettiva nuova, tentando di spiegare perché la Cina è meglio accettata dell'Europa dagli africani.

Il succo è questo: mentre l'Europa propone aiuti, la Cina propone commercio, e l'Africa ha bisogno di commerciare, di esportare, non di avere una relazione di dipendenza neo-coloniale con gli ex-padroni europei.

Chiaramente il discorso è molto più sfumato, ma per questo c'è l'articolo.

Capisco che è molto lungo, ma per una volta...

E non dimenticatevi il mittico dizionario on line su

Se utilizzate il nuovo Internet Explorer (e se ancora non ce l'avete vi consiglio di scaricarlo) potete fare una cosa molto semplice: aprite una nuova scheda con il dizionario, così mentre leggete l'articolo se dovete consultare il dizionario basta che cambiate scheda.

Why Beijing is winning in Africa

Business Day

Paul Moorcraft 05 February 2007

THE Chinese are rapidly developing a successful capitalist economy —it would be a shame if the commies took over... New visitors toBeijing might be tempted to utter this paradox, especially at Christmas when the shops and tourist hotels are decked out in westernfestive paraphernalia. The most upmarket shops boast Eu-ropeanmannequins, predominantly English signs and western fashions. Seniorcommunist party officials seem rather embarrassed when westerners askabout the great revolutionary leaders of the past: Mao is as long deadas Marx.I attended a conference in Beijing in late December on Sino-Africarelations. The senior party cadres and professors politely applaudedmy lecture on why China is doing better in Africa than the west. Nevertheless, except perhaps for SA, no African state is strong enoughto deal equally with China. On a divided, demoralised continent,Beijing can cherry-pick almost at will.

Western perceptions

Beijing's economic, military and diplomatic growth has been sostriking that it has often caused knee-jerk reactions in Europe andthe US.

There are two main schools of thought:

The peaceful China. Its new strategic cosmopolitanism is geared toexpanding its national interest — not ideology — primarily to secureenergy sources and to improve its trading patterns with the EuropeanUnion and the US. Africa is merely a proving ground;


The difficult China. China's outreach is part of an exclusionarypolicy, working with illiberal and rogue states. North Korea is aprime example. It develops trade patterns which ignore all humanrights issues.This undermines western conditionality strategies, which aim toimprove conditions in autocratic states, especially in Africa.China could manipulate its dollar surpluses to bring down the USeconomy, though that would not be in Beijing's interest, particularlyat a time when it's stealing western intellectual property worth tensof billions of dollars annually. Pirated DVDs of the new James Bondfilm, at less than a dollar, were on sale even before it reachedwestern cinemas.Chinese foreign policy is sufficiently nuanced to allow a variety ofinterpretations. Washington's policy towards Beijing contains elementsof mutual economic co-operation but also strategies, especially withJapan, which could counter perceived Chinese military threats.

China and Africa

The western threat perception is based on economic penetration and aconcern that long-established western principles of conditionality —aid and trade in exchange for good governance — are beingdestabilised.China's trade with Africa has risen four-fold in the past four years.It is now said to be $40bn.China has overtaken the UK to become Africa's third most importanttrading partner, after the US and France. Because its oil needs areexpected to double in 15 years, China has invested in particular inSudan, Angola and Nigeria. It is also investing in forestry inEquatorial Guinea, mining in Zambia and construction in Botswana, forexample.China involved itself in Africa for ideological reasons in the 1960sand 1970s and helped with large-scale projects; the Tan-Zam railway isperhaps the best example. But this time the motivation is primarilyabout business, not politics.Some western experts argue that the Chinese are now "voraciouscapitalists", who are generating a new scramble for Africa.This is a two-way street. China may be pushing its Africa policy hard,but African leaders, increasingly scornful of western conditionality,are welcoming the far less judgmental Chinese way of doing ofbusiness.

What the west did wrong

Forget about the western campaigns that speak about "making povertyhistory"; instead "make lecturing African leaders history".Western aid hasn't worked, especially when it is accompanied by piousand ineffective lectures and double-counting (for example, includingdebt relief as part of aid budgets). Giving more aid to Africa is liketelling an alcoholic he needs a stiff drink to help kick hisaddiction. The continent was going backwards for many years until the5% growth rate of the past three years. Chinese trade may well haveplayed a role in this achievement.Fading rock singers' alliances with Prime Minister Tony Blair'smessianic vision may stir the soul of voters in the UK, but they areunlikely to benefit Africa's poor. Opening western markets would be amore effective strategy.What Africa needs is not liberal kindness but investment by business.But at present only very big western companies — and the Chinese —tend to take the risk. The oil majors have shown that Africa need notbe stable to make a profit. Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea demonstratethat oil brings in money, but it rarely benefits the "masses".Nigerian leaders in 40 years ripped off $400bn (from oil and aidmoney) — that's six times the amount the US Marshall Plan spent onsuccessfully rebuilding western Europe after the Second World War.After more than a trillion dollars of western aid, many Africancitizens are poorer than ever. Western governments tried to imposegood governance by lending or giving money with strings attached. Butdonors need to recognise that they cannot "buy" policies with theirown money and expect African governments to "own" these same policies,which are imposed on them, and which often don't work (although theycan — sometimes — at the very local, "African-owned" level).There is simply no correlation between aid and economic growth.Africans don't need to be told that aid merely saps initiative.Africa, like any other region, wants to finance its rec-overy thoughits own resources and through direct foreign investment. But annualcapital flight roughly equals aid inflows; every year Africa'sbrightest talents leave, while tens of thousands of foreign "experts"briefly and often clumsily replace them. This is the economics of themadhouse.For the African worker, there is one thing worse than being exploitedby western capitalism (or Chinese neocapitalism) and that is not beingexploited — ie no work. Foreign business investment in Africa isnakedly self-interested, but it should be extended beyond extractiveand agricultural industries. Yes, debt relief will help (though italso makes African governments less creditworthy) but more importantis the curtailment of European and American domestic protectionism —even though the West preaches free trade to Africa.Direct western military intervention, like the billions of aiddollars, is equally counterproductive. The first priority is to keepout the guns and aid gurus, and let more businesses in (and Africangovernments could start by dumping all the red tape, which deterseconomic development).Western governments can help by encouraging the African diaspora toreturn; Western banks should also play a role in repatriating more ofthe billions that corrupt dictators have stolen from their people.

China's mistakes

My friend Lindsey Hilsum, the bureau chief in Beijing for Britain'sChannel 4 TV, has produced a number of powerful reports on China andAfrica. The essence of her critique, during the visit of 40 Africanheads of state to Beijing in November, was this: African leaders "arejust thrilled that China wants to talk about trade, investment andbrotherhood rather than pesky subjects western leaders like to bringup such as human rights, good governance, corruption, genocide and allthat".Yes, China's support for Sudan over Darfur and for Robert Mugabe'sregime has been criticised in the western media. And China hassupplied large arms shipments to Sudan and Zimbabwe, including fighteraircraft — though it still lags the western arms deals on thecontinent.China has also been criticised for dumping cheap goods on Africa. Thisis particularly true of textiles and clothing. In a replay of tradestructures imposed by European imperialism, SA exports raw materialsto China while importing Chinese products which compete with, andundercut, local industries. South African trade unions have called forrestrictions of Chinese imports.Following its experience in Latin America, China has responded tothese concerns and has agreed to limit exports of some garments andtextiles to SA. China has also been criticised for bringing its ownworkers and displacing African employment on major constructionprojects. Chinese purchase of retail outlets has also causedresentment in Botswana and in Zambia, for example.

What China has done right

African leaders are generally much happier to deal with the Chinese(despite the complaints from trade unions). Even President FestusMogae of Botswana admitted: "I find that the Chinese treat us asequals. The west treats us as former subjects."Because the Chinese are not imposing any ideology, it's willing buyer,willing seller. Above all, the phenomenal growth rates in China andthe fact that hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty isan attractive model for Africans, and not just the elderly leadership.Young, intelligent, well-educated Africans are attracted to theChinese model, even though Beijing is not trying to spread democracy(unlike the disastrous American policy in Iraq).China is effectively building on its soft-power model (again comparedwith the awe and shock tactics of the US army). More than 900 Chinesedoctors work in Africa. Educational support is also extensivelyprovided. Instead of aid that is often diverted into elite pockets,China has made a habit of providing iconic infrastructure projects,from new parliaments to football stadiums.Nor does China import an army of fat-cat "expats" with their families.Chinese workers usually live in austere accommodation and work hardfor long hours and at salaries much lower than European or UNpersonnel. The Chinese are sometimes condemned for importing strictlabour regimes but their work ethic would be a useful inspiration inmany African states.

African renaissance

China's one-party system necessarily precludes its proselytising fordemocracy. It stands by its economic record, an undoubtedly alluringmodel for many Africans. China's experience suggests that the removalof poverty must precede the introduction of democracy.Instead of considering a triangular zero-sum relationship of the westand China contending for African goodwill (and oil), there are manyways of co-operating, via the New Partnership for African Developmentand an array of other organisations. But first the west needs toescape from the instinctive notion that its polices are progressive inAfrica, while Chinese actions are negative and harmful.Africa needs trade, not aid. And China, for all its immediateselfinterest, is providing just that. China wants oil now but it isalso playing a long-term game.Its skilled diplomats know that they require some stability andeffective governance in its trading partners — even in Zimbabwe.There are more Chinese living in Nigeria now than Britons during theheight of the empire. And in 2005, Angola's energy minister said thatas many as 3-million Chinese could move to his country in the nextfive years. That figure seems highly improbable but even if it werequarter true, it would smack of a new imperialism.Unfashionably, some western experts have called for a new UnitedNations trusteeship for failed states in Africa, and former coloniessuch as Mozambique are bending over backwards to get old and new whitecolonialists back. But Africa is not attractive to European settlersany more.If China's energy shortage and population surplus can help rebuild alargely derelict continent, then Beijing should be applauded, notcastigated. While the European Union views Africa as a burden, Chinasees a market.The so-called African renaissance can come only when African leadersinvest by preference in private capital growth in their own countries,not Swiss banks. China pulled itself up by its own bootstraps byrelying largely on internal investment as well as smart foreign trade;Africa must not rely on external investment from China through sellingits oil.Despite the dangers of a new imperialism, China might still provide anopportunity for Africa which Europe and the US have simply failed todeliver.

Dr Moorcraft is the director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis, London.

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