China to Pump $1B Into Africa

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 4/29/2008 01:24:00 AM
There has been much discussion featured on this blog about China's involvement in Africa [1, 2, 3, 4]. In assumed contrast to meddlesome Westerns, the Chinese have wisely portrayed themselves as a fellow LDC that can share its experience in spurring economic growth. In line with its professed policy of non-intervention in other states’ domestic affairs, China makes for a desirable partner for these African states which are often bent on authoritarianism as well by making no demands for political transparency, economic reform, or human rights; providing markets for their raw materials; and supplying investment, trade, training, and weapons. As usual, China is hearkening back to an earlier time when state sovereignty was the sine qua non of international diplomacy. This latest instalment comes courtesy of Bloomberg and talks about China dangling more money in front of African countries. Is this the new imperialism, or a developmental path? Jeffrey Sachs thinks it is the latter. Read on...

A Chinese fund set up to encourage investment in Africa may commit to spend $1 billion by the end of the year, Liliang Teng, president of the China-Africa Development Fund said today. The fund is in discussions with Chinese companies on projects to improve energy infrastructure in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and eastern Africa, Teng said in interview at a business forum in Tanzania's northern city of Arusha. ``Besides energy and power plants we will also focus on infrastructure, like rail, roads and airports as well as other areas, including agriculture and manufacturing,'' he said.

The China-Africa Development Fund, announced by Chinese President Hu Jintao in November 2006, will grow to $5 billion and may become bigger depending on its initial results, said Teng. Financed by the China Development Bank, it approved the first investments with four Chinese companies totaling $90 million on Jan. 15, according to a press release on its Web site.

Sino-Steel Group, the China Building Material Co., Shenzhen Energy Group Co., and the CGC Overseas Construction Ltd. will use the money to develop electricity, construction, and mining projects in Africa, the statement said, without elaborating.

China's trade with African nations will rise to $100 billion by 2010 from $73 billion last year and $2 billion in 1999, Khalid Malik, the United Nations resident coordinator in China, said at the opening of the China Africa Business Forum in Arusha today. The two-day summit is bringing together 300 trade officials and businesspeople.

Critics say China's push into Africa for oil and raw materials to feed its growing economy in some cases disregards environmental laws, labor standards and human rights. Economist Jeffrey Sachs, the UN's special envoy on the Millennium Development Goals, said the positive impact of Chinese investment and skills transfer to Africa far outweigh the negatives. ``What is being promoted is a great increase in business development,'' Sachs said in a taped address.