In the last 12 months, we have heard news of the enslavement of Africans rejected from migrating to Europe. Rejected from regular migration by Europe, many Africans have perished in the Mediterranean Sea by resorting to irregular migration.
Three months ago, we heard the announcement of Nigerian’s banned from access to migration visas in the US. As recently as last week about 6,000 migrants and refugee claimants were forcefully returned to countries they were fleeing from on the grounds of COVID 19 i.e. refoulment. Currently, Africans are demonstrating in Germany due discrimination by exposure to the COVID 19. But what has made the rounds have been video clips, some fabricated, about China’s discrimination of Africans in China.
So, who stands to gain from an end to China and Africa’s collaboration? Who is worried about China’s influence or relationship in and with Africa? Who wants China out of Africa and why.
My concern is that the goal for sharing videos of Africans facing discrimination in China is not to end the discrimination of Africans, but to end good relationships between China and Africa, the goal is to reduce China’s influence in Africa. This will not be good for Africa given that the rest of the world is intensifying efforts to build stronger ties with China.
In February 2018, former UK Prime Minister Prime Minister Theresa May visited China to strengthen the UK’s relations with Beijing. In a press conference in Beijing, the then UK Prime Minister reiterated the UK’s commitment to intensify the “golden partnership” with China and said
The UK continues to court China as a major trade power. China-UK trade is currently at an all-time high. Although the UK is not one of China’s top three investment destinations globally, it is now the biggest recipient of Chinese investments in Europe followed by Germany and France. Since the influx of Chinese capital to Europe, the sectors that attracted them the most are energy, automotive, food and property. ‘Chinese investors have poured £29 billion into a broad range of assets in the UK ranging from prime London property to banks, energy projects and football clubs since 2005.’
The UK, like other countries in Europe, is doing this because China is the new champion of globalization, especially now that the US is pursuing `a more protectionist route through Trump’s “America First” policy.’
According to `How Much Money Does the World Owe China?’ published in Economic Development magazine by Sebastian Horn, Carmen M. Reinhart, and Christoph Trebesch on February 26, 2020, ‘Over the past two decades, China has become a major global lender, with outstanding claims now exceeding more than 5% of global GDP. Almost all this lending is official, coming from the government and state-controlled entities.’ In total, the Chinese state and its subsidiaries have lent about $1.5 trillion in direct loans and trade credits to more than 150 countries around the globe. This has turned China into the world’s largest official creditor — surpassing traditional, official lenders such as the World Bank, the IMF, or all Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development creditor governments combined.
According to Investopedia, ‘It seems as if every American politician and talking head is expressing concern about the huge amount of debt that the U.S. government owes Chinese lenders. The Chinese do own a lot of U.S. debt -- about $1.1 trillion as of early 2020. ’
But the reason this is not as loud, and China is not accused of a negative influence in the West is based on the global bias and narrative of the developed and developing. Loans to the west is considered sound investment, but those to Africa are considered at risk.
Dear Africa, to pursue self-determination we must start thinking for ourselves and resist the continued manipulation of our former colonizers. While western countries are increasingly reliant on the Chinese economy they are promoting a negative narrative around the Chinese partnership with Africa.
The Chinese government is cutting off the sources of Western monopoly on Africa’s economies, through economic investment in the continent and here lies the problem.
China’s investments in Africa is economically viable, and this how and why China’s influence is growing. It is so for Africa, and so for Europe and North America. For example, I agree with Forbes magazine’s 2019 report that China’s funding and building of a $3.6 billion railway upgrade between Nairobi and Mombasa in Kenya, will, and is exceeding expectations in both passenger and freight volumes and will probably contribute significantly to Kenya’s emergence as the premier economy in East Africa.
I find it suspiciously interesting that many of the video clips of Africans being discriminated against are of Nigerians in China. Interesting given that the bulk of Chinese investments are concentrated in Nigeria and Angola.
Some have argued that China’s influence in Africa could mean that China can use the diplomatic relationship, to gain Africa’s votes on sensitive matters in the UN. basically, countries like the US do not want China to do what they do to Africa.
Africans who are often obedient to Western global views and analysis have bought into these selfish concerns regarding China’s influence in Africa.
But African leaders know differently. Governments across Africa have, in the last two decades, started standing up a bit taller from the options relationship with China is offering, and many African leaders have expressed this appreciation publicly, it is perhaps making the former `masters’ uncomfortable regarding losing control and perhaps a regular source of exploited resources.
Dear Africa, let’s put our priorities and energy in the right and fruitful place. Africa should invest its energy and time right now to controlling the spread of COVID 19 and we need all the support and resources we can find and get. We should stop wasting our time investing or cooking up imaginary enemies.
If we want to vent, then let’s vent to our countries in Africa that are performing so poorly that Africans find themselves leaving the continent.
Dear Africans, the start of self-empowerment is to stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated. We are too comfortable and obsessed with the victim tag. Those who promote the message that we are not capable of a healthy mutually beneficial economic relationship are not our friends.