2015 is an important year on the calendar of 193 nations in the world and about 23 international organizations. According to the United Nations (2010:72), 2015 is the year that the signatories to the Millennium Development Goal (herein referred to as MDGs) should have attained the policies set out in the agreement.
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Atkinson (2006:559) defines MDGs as development goals that have been agreed on by several nations and international organisations around the world. The eight international development goals should be achieved by the member nations and international organisations by 2015.
Some of the international development goals contained in the agreement include eradication of extreme poverty within the member states by the year 2015 (Atkinson, 2006:558). Others are reduction in child mortality rates as well as combating epidemics plaguing the world such as the HIV/AIDS scourge.
The United Nations is made up of 193 member states and all of them are signatory to the agreement (United Nations, 2010:34). The more than 23 international organisations mentioned above recognise the need to attain these international development goals. They have made a commitment to help the member states achieve the goals before the 2015 deadline.
The Millennium Development Goals were agreed on and signed in September of 2000. This is during the Millennium Summit that was held in that year and which was attended by the leaders of the states represented in the United Nations.
According to the World Bank (2011:12), the idea behind the signing of the goals was to spur international development by addressing the deplorable social and economic conditions in third world countries and other poor nations. The development goals were founded on the Millennium Declaration report by the United Nations laying down the need to address the social and economic conditions of the poor nations in the world.
According to the United Nations (2010:13), the declarations provided that each individual in the world has several inalienable rights that they are entitled to. These include right to dignity, right to equality, right to a basic standard of living among others (Sharma, 2004:53). The Declaration recognised that the individual has the right to enjoy life free of violence and hunger.
A critical analysis of the MDGs will reveal that this agreement between nations was just an operationalization of the concepts contained in the Declaration. The operationalization was effected by way of setting targets and indicators aimed at fighting extreme poverty in the world among other goals and targets.
It is also noted that the provisions of the Declaration were time bound when they were operationalized in the MDGs. This is obvious when one notes that the targets set forth in the Declaration were framed into a fifteen years’ window period. This is the time within which the targets should be achieved.
However, it is important to note that there were other areas apart from the Declaration that MDGs originated from. It will be erroneous to assert that the Declaration solely gave birth to the MDGs.
It is noted that throughout the 1990s, the United Nations led conferences that brought on board other players in international development such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (herein referred to as OECD), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund among others (Zafar, 2007:112).
The developmental issues addressed in these conferences included child mortality, human rights, rights of the women among others. The deliberations made in these conferences were also instrumental in the formulation and signing of the Millennium Development Goals.
It is noted that the Millennium Development Goals address three key spheres of human development or what Sharma (2004:63) refers to as humanity. The first includes the enhancement of human capital by providing quality health care and respecting human rights.
The second involves the improvement of infrastructure aimed at achieving social and economic development in the nations. The third area addressed by the MDGs includes the enhancement of social, economic and political rights on the part of the individual (Sharma, 2004:63).
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According to Sakiko (2004:390), the Millennium Development Goals recognise the important role that developed nations play in helping the developing nations attain social and political development. The goals recognise that the developed nations have a role to play in helping the developing nations through aids and grants. This is vividly illustrated in MDG number eight.
According to Sakiko (2004:390), the objectives and target of the developed nations as far as aiding the developing nations is concerned are set out here. The developed nations can help the developing nations by engaging in fair trade, writing off debts owed by the developing nations and increasing the aid and grants availed to the developing nations (World Bank, 2011:18).
This development goal recognises the need for a development partnership between the developing and developed nations. This is as opposed to having the countries go about attaining development on their own.
Developed nations have used the MDGs (especially MDG number 8) to justify their involvement in African nations. For example, the setting up of various Multinational Corporations (herein referred to as MNCs) in Africa is justified by the argument that the corporations will help develop Africa by creating employment. However, the accuracy of this assertion has been challenged by critics of multinational corporations.
The critics argue that the multinationals exploit Africans (and in extension citizens of other third world countries) in the guise of helping them.
The multinational exploit the resources of the third world countries without necessarily benefiting the locals. The profits made by these multinationals are taken back to the developed nations given the fact that most of the corporations are owned by individuals living in the developed nations.
In the recent past, China has increased her presence in the developing world to the chagrin of the western nations. China has increased aid to these nations as well as increasing the level of foreign direct investment made to these nations. According to Jenkins & Edwards (2006:220), emerging world powers such as India and China continue to play a great role in the world economy given their financial might.
Their influence has extended to the African continent with some of the African nations looking away from the western nations and embracing India and China for aid.
According to Jenkins & Edwards (2006:209), about 40 percent of the world’s population lives in China and India. The growth of the Chinese economy started in the 1990s. Since that time, this economy has grown by about 10 percent annually, with India following closely with an average economic growth of 6 percent per annum.
In the year 2002, the two nations recorded perhaps one of the highest economic growths in the world in recent times. In India, the level of trade as a ratio of the country’s GDP increased by almost two folds in this year. The increase was more than 2/3 in China, a significant growth by all standards.
The growing significance of China in the world has raised concerns among the western nations. It is also noted that some developing nations are also concerned by the increased presence of Chinese investors in these countries. This is what is happening in Africa today. The presence of China in this continent has increased over the years to the extent that both locals and other foreign investors feel threatened.
This report is going to critically look at China’s aid and investment in Africa. The author is going to analyse whether the increased aid and investment in this country is an effort on the part of the Chinese government to achieve the Millennium Development Goals or not.
In looking at the aid and investment made in Africa by Chinese elements, the author is going to use the economic dependency theory. This is aimed at analysing whether Chinese aid and investment in Africa benefits the African or the Chinese themselves.
Atkinson (2006:560) recognises the fact that MDGs are a challenge unto themselves. The challenge is faced by both the developing and the developed nations. One such challenge facing the achievement of MDGs is political in nature.
For example, Atkinson is of the view that the developed nations find themselves with the political obligation to transfer funds through aids and other channels to the developing nations in order to attain the goals.
The developing nations also face a political challenge when transfer of funds from the developed nations is concerned. This is given the fact that the developing nations have to effectively use the transfers made by the developed nations to achieve the international development goals while at the same time making use of their local resources (Alden, 2005:149).
The challenges facing the achievement of the international development goals extend to the intellectual. According to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2010:85), scholars in economics and other social sciences are challenged to comprehend the processes through which the international development goals can be achieved. This is especially so within the volatile and unpredictable world market.
But perhaps the major challenge facing the achievement of the international development goals has to do with funding. An approximation of the additional funds needed to attain the goals was made by the panel chaired by President Zedillo after the MDGs goals have been signed by the United Nations member states.
The panel was of the view that at least 50 billion US dollars will be needed each year to fund the MDGs (New Partnership for African Development [NEPAD], 2001). According to estimates made by the United Nations (2010:70), about 83 billion US dollars was needed in the year 2010 to fund the MDGs project.
This is the reason why the United Nations has realised the need to bring on board donors to help in funding the project. According to Alemayehu (2006:27), donor nations have responded positively so far. A case in point is the Monterrey Conference that was held in the year 2002.
During this conference, donor nations made a commitment to increase their level of funding to the MDGs. The same happened in the G8 meeting that was held in Gleneagles soon thereafter. In this meeting, the G8 nations came to an agreement that they will increase their aid to Africa as one of the ways of helping the continent achieve the international development goals (Dahle & Muyakwa, 2008:29).
The discourse above is an indication of the fact that the developed nations have made efforts to address the challenges faced by the international development goals. This is despite the fact that the international development goals continue to be bombarded by other challenges even with the help of the rich nations.
For example, Atkinson (2006:560) notes that there is still a significant shortfall in the amount needed to meet the targets by the year 2015. For example, in the year 2010, it was expected that the gap between the actual cost of implementing the MDGs that year and the amount of money that was available to the United Nations’ Millennium Project was about 30 billion US dollars (World Bank, 2011:12).
It is also noted that some of the nations that have pledged to support the implementation of the MDGs project may not fulfil these pledges. There may be several reasons why this might happen in the future.
One of them is the fact that nations faced with economic crisis at home will tend to cut back on their international aid to try and address the problem back at home. For example, the money ear marked for Millennium Development Project may be used by the nations in economic stimulus programs.
This is perhaps the reason why emerging superpowers such as China are needed as far as MDGs are concerned. It is noted that such nations are potential contributors to the MDGs kitty in addition to their direct aid to countries in the developing world. However, China remains suspicious in the eyes of most western nations as far as its engagement in Africa is concerned.
In her article referring to China as a dragon entering Africa, Hilsum (2005:420) traces the engagement of China in Africa back to the 1970s. At this time, the interests of the Dragon were more political than economical. However, this did not stop the international community from viewing the Chinese engagement suspiciously.
In her article, Hilsum (2005:420) reports how Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe was warmly welcomed in Beijing a day after the United Nations have condemned his poor record of human rights in Zimbabwe.
Just hours after the United Nations released the damning report, Mugabe was taken on a tour of a car factory in Beijing after which he signed a trade agreement with his counterpart in China. By doing this, China appeared to be courting dissent African leaders after they have fallen out with the western leaders.
However, Hilsum (2005:420) notes that the involvement of China in matters Zimbabwean is not a new thing. In fact, it appears that China has been a sleeping dragon in Africa which is just rousing itself from a deep slumber. The dragon has always been there even before the MDGs were signed. It is just that the dragon was asleep all this time (Large, 2009).
Hilsum (2005) notes the friendship between the Zimbabwean leader and the Chinese is not a new thing. It started way back in the 1970s. This was when Mugabe was a leader of a guerrilla movement that was fighting the government of the day.
It is noted that the Chinese funded Mugabe and enabled him fight the whites in Rhodesia who were trying to deny the African independence. The Chinese seemed to pitting Africans against the whites.
As already stated in this paper, the interests of the Chinese in Africa during that time were more political. However, China has realised that she stands to benefit more by engaging the Africans in the economic front.
This is evidenced by the state visit made by Mugabe to China where he signed a loan agreement with the host government. It is also noted that the foreign direct investments made by China to Africa are not limited to Zimbabwe. The new aggressive policy adopted by the Beijing government extends to the whole of Africa.
Today, African leaders appear to be warming up to the Chinese government while shunning the western influence in some circles. It is as a result of this that developed nations such as the G8 view China as a challenge to the achievement of the international development goals. According to Hilsum (2005:422) and Gallagher (2011:2297), China is viewed as a stumbling block to the achievement of MDGs in Africa by these nations.
This is given the fact that China appears to undermine the efforts of the western nations to make “good governance and (respect to ) human rights the determining criteria in trade, aid, debt relief, loans and investment in African nations” (Hilsum, 2005:419).
Mugabe and other African leaders who have no respect for human rights have nothing to worry as far as foreign aid is concerned. All they have to do is accept the offer made by the Chinese who seem to turn a blind eye to human rights and issues to do with good governance.
It is noted that human rights and good governance are significant determinants as far as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is concerned.
This is given the fact that the MDGs recognise the importance of human rights and political accountability as far as human development is concerned. With the controversial conduct of Chinese in Africa, the Asian dragon seems to be working against the attainment of the MDGs as opposed to supporting the same.
This research has both major and specific objectives.
To critically examine whether China’s aid and investment in Africa is geared towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals
- Analyse the effects that China’s aid and investment in Africa has on the attainment of the MDGs
- Analyse the real intentions behind China’s aid and investment in Africa
- Examine other effects that China’s aid and investment might have in Africa
- Provide recommendations for African countries as far as China’s aid and investment in Africa is concerned within the context of MDGs
- Provide recommendations for other developed nations as far as China’s aid and investment in Africa is concerned within the context of MDGs
- Provide recommendations for the Chinese government as far as China’s aid and investment in Africa is concerned in light of MDGs
Major Research Question
Is China’s aid and investment in Africa aimed at helping the African nations to achieve the Millennium Development Goals?
Specific Research Questions
- What are the effects of China’s aid and investment in Africa on achievement of MDGs?
- What is the motivation behind China’s aid and investment in Africa?
- What are some of the other effects of China’s aid and investment in Africa?
- What does the African nations, other developed nations and the Chinese government stand to learn from China’s aid and investment in Africa as far as the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals is concerned?
China’s aid and investment in Africa is not aimed at helping the African nations in achieving the Millennium Development Goals; rather, it is aimed at safeguarding the Chinese commercial interests
The researcher is going to analyse literature in this field. The researcher will analyse the findings of studies that have been carried out in this field to determine how they treat the issue of China’s aid in Africa and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The researcher will be open-minded. This means that the researcher is aware of the fact that the findings of this study may support or refute the assertions put forth in the thesis statement.
Significance of the Study
Listed are some of the potential uses of the findings of this study:
- The findings of this study will help African nations realise the real impact of China’s aid and investment in Africa as far as the attainment of the MDGs is concerned
- The findings will help African countries to formulate better policies that will help them benefit more from Chinese aid and investment in achieving MDGs
- The findings will also help the developed nations to realise the impacts of Chinese aid and investment in Africa in the achievement of MDGs in the continent
- The findings of the study will also help the Chinese government in coming up with better policies that will make China’s aid and investment in Africa help the nations attain MDGs
Scope and Limitations of the Study
- The study will limit itself to the impacts of Chinese aid and investment on African’s achievement of MDGs. The impact of Chinese aid and investment on other aspects of African continent such as political effects will only be mentioned within the context of the continent’s MDGs
- The study will be limited to the effects of Chinese aid and investment in Africa. Aid and investment from other nations will not be considered
- The study will also be limited to the African continent. Effects of Chinese aid and investment in other developing countries will not be taken into consideration
- The study will also be limited to the use of literature in the field. This means that the researcher will not collect primary data in this study (Ranjit, 2005:68)
In this section, the researcher introduced the reader into the study that will be conducted in this paper. Background information for the topic was provided. The researcher also provided the reader with a problem statement, research questions, research objectives, thesis statement as well as the scope and limitations of the study.
The following section will provide the reader with the theoretical framework that will be used in the study.
The section above introduced the reader to the study. In this section, the researcher will provide the reader with the theoretical framework that will inform the study. The major principles of the theory chosen will be selected as well as the relationship between the theory and the topic of this paper.
Overview of the Theory
According to Ahiakpor (1985:550), dependency theory is used to analyse or explain the relationship between the wealthy nations and the poor countries in the world.
According to this theory, resources are seen to be flowing from the periphery or poor nations of the world to what Ahiakpor (1985:550) refer to as the core or the wealthy nations of the world. As a result of this, the wealthy nations benefit at the expense of the poor nations (Alden & Hughes, 2009:570).
According to the proponents of this theory, the world system as it is today benefits the wealthy nations of the world while impoverishing the already poor nations from the developing world (Kragelund, 2008:570). This is given the fact that aspects of the world system such as the international trade favour the wealthy nations.
For example, it is noted that the balance of trade between the wealthy nations and the poor nations favours the former. Wealthy nations export more to the developing nations than they import. On the other hand, the poor nations import more from the wealthy nations than they export. This is especially so given the fact that the poor nations export raw materials that are of low value to the rich nations.
On the other hand, the rich nations export processed and manufactured goods such as machinery to the poor nations. These products are more expensive than the raw materials they import from the poor nations (Bernecker & Fischer, 1998:34).
According to Bernecker & Fischer (1998:34), dependency theory can be traced back to the early 70s. The intention of this theory was to criticise the earlier modernisation theory which was used by economists to explain development in the world today. According to the modernisation theory, all societies and economies of the world developed or progressed towards modernisation following a more or less similar route.
Modernisation theorists explained the poor status of the world’s impoverished nations by saying that they are in a stage that the developed nations were at several years ago. The wealthy nations justified their interference in the developing nations’ economies by stating that they are helping the latter progress on the path to modernisation.
Dependency theorists contended the position taken by the modernists regarding the status of the developing nations. Dependency theorists argue that the developing nations are not primitive versions of the wealthy nations (Kragelund, 2008:567).
According to the dependency theorists, the developing nations are unique given the fact that they are experiencing conditions that are different from those experienced by the developed nations when they were at that stage. Of more concern to the dependency theorists is the fact that the developing nations are weaker members in the global market.
The developed nations never had a history where they were trading with nations that are more advanced or wealthier than they are. This being the case, the argument that the developing nations are a primitive version of the developed nation is erroneous and fallacious.
Ahiakpor (1985:540) is of the view that dependency theory can be used to analyse the multinationals operating in developing nations today. The multinationals are owned by capitalists from the developed nations. They are involved in the “extraction of surpluses” from the developing nations (Ahiakpor, 1985:536).
This is given the fact that the equity holders of such ventures demand annual returns from their businesses for them to continue operating and providing labour in the developing nations. In order to meet such demands, the developing nations are forced to extend preferential treatment to the companies owned by the developed nations. This is through measures such as tax concessions extended to the multinationals.
Bernecker & Fischer (1998:40) are of the view that this leads to decapitalisation on the part of the developing nations hosting the multinationals. Decapitalisation on its part negatively affects the development potential of the developing nations.
It is noted that China has continued to invest in Africa through the establishment of multinationals in the continent. Companies owned by Chinese investors have interest in the construction industry, information and technology industry among others in Africa.
Despite the fact that China is a relatively new member of the wealthy nations in the world, her influence in Africa cannot be downplayed. The dependency theory can be used to explain this development given the fact that China’s wealth is significantly different from that of the African host nations.
Premises and Assumptions of Dependency Theory
The advocates of this theory have come up with several assumptions and premises which they use to explain the relationship between the developed and developing nations in the world today.
The Poor Nations Fund Development in the Developed Nations’ Economies
Chok, Macbeth & Warren (2007:160) are of the view that the developing nations are responsible in part for the high quality of life that is enjoyed by those who live in the developed nations. The developing nations have unexploited resources.
They lack the capacity to exploit these resources, so the developed nations step in to exploit them. For example, the developed nations may invest in mining of gold and diamonds in Congo and South Africa given the fact that these African countries are endowed with the resources but they lack the capacity to exploit them.
It is noted that the developing nations act as dumping ground for obsolete technology from the developed nations (Moyo, 2010:144). For example, outdated computers find their way into the third world market either as aid from the developed nations or as purchased commodities.
It is also in the developing nations that the developed nations source for cheap labour. This is given the fact that there is a lot of idle labour in Africa which is utilised by the developed nations to further their economic interests.
According to Ahiakpor (1985:548), the developed nations could not be able to enjoy the high standards of life that they enjoy if it were not for the developing nations. This is given the fact that the exploited natural resources ends up in the developed nations. A case in point is the colonisation that the African nations were subjected to in early and mid 20th century.
The colonialists such as Britain used the resources from their colonies to fund their expensive lifestyles. Today, the African nations may be theoretically independent but in real sense they are still under the control of the developed nations.
The Wealthy Nations Support and Promote Dependency
Dependency theorists are of the view that the developed nations actively and deliberately encourage dependency on the part of the developing nations. They achieve this through various means. This is for example through the aid and grants that are offered to these nations or the loans handed out.
A case in point is the Structural Adjustment Programs (herein referred to as SAPs) that were demanded by the developed nations as conditions for aid. Ahiakpor (1985:546) gives the case of Ghana which was reduced to a dependency nation by the developed nations. The structural programs required the African governments to cut back on public spending in order to streamline their budgets.
This led to a lot of retrenchments in the African nations concerned as well as reduced spending on critical social areas such as provision of public health services. This meant that the developing nations will forever rely on the developed nations to fund their development.
Critics of Chinese aid and investment in Africa has claimed that the Beijing government arm-twists the African leader by giving them conditions that should be met before they qualify for aid. For example, when the Chinese government gives the African governments development loans to construct roads and other forms of infrastructure, they demand that the African government hire expatriates from China to work on those projects.
This is what is currently taking place in African nations such as Kenya where the Chinese government is funding projects such as construction of roads and ports. The African governments hire Chinese engineers to work on those projects despite the fact that there may be professionals in those countries who can handle such projects.
The Wealthy Nations Actively Fight Resistance from the Developing Nations
According to Kragelund (2008:580), the developed nations are very much aware of the fact that the developing nations are likely to resist the conditions set forth in order for them to qualify for aid. To this end, the developed nations have come up with strategies aimed at countering this form of resistance.
This is the reason why the developed nations introduce economic sanctions on those African nations that fail to meet the standards set by the wealthy nations. The Structural Adjustment Programs explained above is a classic example of such economic sanctions imposed on the African nations.
It is noted that sometimes, the developed nations opt for military action in the process of fighting resistance on the part of the African and other developing nation’s leaders.
A case in point is the recent political unrest that was witnessed in Libya when the citizens were claiming for removal of Muammar Gaddafi. The western nations were reported to have been supporting the rebels given the fact that the Libyan leader had resisted economic exploitation by the western nations.
This section looked at the theoretical framework that is used in this study to explain the relationship between Africa and the Chinese government. The researcher provided the reader with some of the concepts and assumptions that are associated with dependency theory.
In the next section, the researcher will critically look at the involvement of the Chinese government in Africa and how this is perceived by African and western nations.
Chinese Involvement in the African Continent and Achievement of MDGs
As already indicated above, this section will critically analyse the involvement of the Chinese government in the African continent. The researcher will be looking at the strategies that are used by the Chinese government to penetrate Africa and whether these are similar to those used by other western nations such as the United States of America.
The reaction of the African leaders and those from the western nations as far as the involvement of the Chinese government in the African economic affairs is concerned.
Chinese Actors in Africa
Brautigam & Xiaoyang (2009:690) are of the view that the Chinese government has encouraged its citizens to enter Africa and invest there. It is noted that in the past, the Chinese government preferred engaging the African central governments directly. However, this is changing and a new form of strategic partnership is discernible.
This is where the Chinese government, as indicated above, encourages the citizens to invest in Africa as individuals. Alden & Hughes (2009:570) refer to this new strategy as the “people-to-people” approach (p. 572). This is given the fact that the Chinese citizens are in direct contact with their African counterparts wherever they are working.
Among the new crop of Chinese investors in Africa are the large corporate organisations that are supported by the Chinese government and armed with the necessary requirements to enter the African continent (Alden, 2005). Alden & Hughes (2009:570) give the example of the Chinese National Mining and Electricity Company which has huge interests in several African countries.
These include Angola, Zambia and Gabon among others (Alden & Hughes, 2009:572). Other corporations that are in Africa include the North Industries Corporation which is involved in the manufacture and supply of arms in several African nations.
On its part, Huawei has vast interests in the telecommunication industry in Africa. This company has entered into partnership with several African telecommunication companies where it is the sole manufacturer of gadgets that are supplied by these companies.
Non-Ferrous Metal Mining Group is another corporation that is used by the Beijing government to exploit the African continent. One of the countries where the presence of this company is highly visible is Zambia. Others are China International Finance which is a key player in the financial sector. This is especially so in handling financial transactions between China and Angola.
The Chinese involvement in Africa as noted earlier in this paper has attracted a lot of criticism from both the African and the western leaders. A case in point is the incidence involving a shipment of arms that took place in April of 2008.
According to Alden & Hughes (2009:573), the freighter carrying the arms (An Yue Jiang) was refused entry into the African country where the arms were to be received. The carrier was refused entry into Zimbabwe after the South African unions declined to handle the shipment. China was embarrassed by this occurrence.
The event reported above would have gone unnoticed if it were not for the furore it raised among the western nations. It was alleged that the arms shipment was as a culmination of secretive and controversial dealings between President Mugabe and a Chinese company (Alden & Hughes, 2009:573).
It was alleged that the president had acquired the arms from Poly Technologies, a company that is claimed to have fuelled civil unrest in several African nations such as Southern Sudan and Congo.
From the above discourse, it is obvious that western nations are not impressed by the active role that China continues to play in Africa. It is the view of these western nations that the Chinese government is not in any way supporting the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Rather, the Chinese government is solely interested in making profits to support the growing economy of this Asian giant. Even the increasing number of Chinese tourists in Africa (Chruistie & Crompton, 2001:14) is viewed with a lot of suspicion by the western nations.
China’s Aid and Investment in Africa: Selected Case Studies
In this section, the researcher will look at some of the countries where China’s aid and investment is highly visible. The reaction of leaders in these countries will also be critically analysed.
The position of most African leaders as far as international aid and development is concerned is perhaps well illustrated by the utterances made by Zimbabwean leader in May 2005 when the central African nation was celebrating 25 years of independence (Hilsum, 2005:420).
The leader told the nation that “……..(Zimbabwe) has turned east where the sun rises…….and turned our back to the west where the sun sets” (Hilsum, 2005:420). This was an indication of the fact that the nation now regards China as her new international partner.
This is true given the fact that China, India and Pakistan are now more active in Zimbabwe than other countries from the west. Mugabe has fully embraced the Asian tigers and has publicly castigated western nations and their involvement in Africa.
China seems to have greatly benefited from the fall-out between Mugabe and other western leaders. For example, Chinese merchants used to buy Zimbabwean tobacco from auctions held by white farmers who used to control agriculture in Zimbabwe.
However, after the president confiscated the land from the whites, Chinese companies seems to have greatly benefited from the economic sanctions that followed. Mugabe leased the farms to the Chinese farmers in a desperate move to prop up the economy of the country which was suffering after the economic sanctions were put in place (Sautman & Hairong, 2009:729).
Proceeds from Zimbabwean agricultural sector are used to offset a 110 million US dollars’ loan that the Chinese government gave to Mugabe. This is an indication of the fact that Mugabe uses China’s aid and investment in his country to replace the western aid and investment that was withdrawn after the fall-out between this leader and the western leaders.
Other leaders in Zimbabwe are not as enthusiastic when it comes to the aid and investment made by China in this country (Jenkins & Edwards, 2006:220). One of these leaders is the opposition boss Morgan Tsvangerai. This man was quoted saying that Mugabe has literally mortgaged the central African nation to the Chinese.
The leader was bemoaning the fact that the president was mistreating investors from other countries (including investors from Zimbabwe) and giving preferential treatment to the Chinese.
However, it is important to note that China cannot solve all the problems in Zimbabwe (Paalberg, 1996:130). For example, China cannot supply the central African nation with oil. In July 2005, the national carrier was forced to cut back on some of the flights as a result of a jet fuel shortage (Ngaire, 2008:1220).
In fact, China seems to need oil as much as Zimbabwe needs it. This means that the Asian country has no oil to spare for Zimbabwe.
It is noted that the Chinese government might be helping Zimbabwe to attain the international development goals. This is given the fact that it is providing the country with much needed funds to cater for the provision of social services such as health and education.
It is obvious that with the economic sanctions that have been put in place by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations among other are not in any way helping the Mugabe administration meet the Millennium Development Goals. This is given that the government lacks the necessary foreign currency to fund the MDG project. This is where the Chinese comes in.
However, a critical analysis of Chinese involvement in this country will reveal that it is in no way interested in helping the nation achieve the MDGs. The Chinese government seems to support the abuse of human rights that is perpetrated by the Mugabe administration as well as official corruption.
According to Hsiao-pong (2009:394), the policy of the Chinese government’s involvement in African countries shuns political interference. This being the case, it is against the interest of the Chinese government to encourage or force Mugabe respect human rights. It is hard to achieve the Millennium Development Goals in a country that does not respect human rights such as Zimbabwe.
It is also noted that the Chinese government is encouraging dependency in Zimbabwe. Mugabe may be replacing western evil with eastern evil. Apart from the fact that one evil ‘rises with the sun’ while the other ‘sets with the sun’, Chinese and western aid and investment are similar.
A country that is dependent on another is not the best placed when it comes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. A country that supports and encourages dependency (such as China) is not interested in helping other countries attain the MDGs.
Chinese aid and investment in Africa is not limited to the central African nation of Zimbabwe. Sierra Leone is a West African nation that seems to have attracted hordes of Chinese investors. According to Taylor (2007:380) and Sautman & Hairong (2007:98), construction industry in Africa seems to be irresistible to Chinese investors. This seems to be the case in Sierra Leone.
According to Hilsum (2005:423), the capital city of this country is full of structures erected by Chinese contractors. The building housing the parliament in Freetown, the building housing government offices as well as the military complex were all funded by the Chinese (Hilsum, 2005:423). The buildings were also worked on by Chinese contractors despite the fact that there are qualified engineers in Sierra Leone.
However, it is important to note that China’s aid and investment is not completely bad for Africa. There are some attributes of this aid and investment that are positive. For example, African leaders as well as the African people stand to learn a lot from their interaction with the Chinese (Widner, 2005:572).
For example, the Chinese have a positive work ethic that could spur economic development in African if adopted by the locals (Tull, 2006:460). For example, according to Sierra Leone information minister, the Chinese works 24 hours in a day without taking breaks for holidays or at night (Hilsum, 2005:423). Septimus Kaikai is of the view that the citizens of Sierra Leone can learn a lot from such a work ethic.
It is noted that such a work ethic is important if nations are to achieve the MDGs. If Chinese can impart such attitude on the African nations, then it is obvious that their efforts will help the African nations attain the Millennium Development Goals.
According to the New Partnership for African Development [NEPAD] (2001:5), Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the African continent. It is noted that about 70 percent of citizens in this country live in poverty (Zafar, 2007:121). This being the case, it is obvious then that any assistance that this country can receive to achieve the MDGs is highly welcome.
Investors from western nations have shunned Sierra Leone given the fact that the poor infrastructure raises businesses’ running costs. However, Chinese companies seem to have come up with new strategies that lower the operation costs while raising their profits.
Perhaps one of the reasons why Chinese companies are able to bring down operation costs is the fact that most of the materials used by these businesses are imported directly from China (Taylor, 2006:945). A case in point is the Bintumani Hotel, a 270-bed complex that restored by engineers from China. Beijing Urban Construction imported most of the construction materials from China.
But this is where Chinese involvement in this country raises controversy. It is questionable how importing even minor construction and other materials such as hotel towels is of any help to Sierra Leone. It is obvious that such developments deny citizens from this country the much needed labour that will help them meet the MDGs.
This African nation has also attracted Chinese investors who seem to be so much interested in oil produced here. According to senior employees from the country’s energy ministry, Sudan supplies China with about 12 percent of the oil needed by this country (Hilsum, 2005:423). This is significant considering the fact that the amount of energy needed to run the Chinese economy is huge.
However, it is erroneous to assume that all proceeds from oil exports go into the Sudanese economy. Given the fact that Sudan is one of the few oil producers in Africa, Chinese investors have concentrated more on oil exploration than in any other business ventures.
China National Petroleum Corporation (herein referred to as CNPC) controls about 40 percent of the major oil producer in Sudan (Hilsum, 2005:423). This is the government owned Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company which controls a significant portion of oilfields in Sudan (Hilsum, 2005:423).
Just like in Zimbabwe, Chinese investors seem to have benefited a lot from the fall-out between Khartoum and other western nations. For example in early 1990s, a major American oil producer was forced to move out of Sudan following the political strife between northern and southern Sudan (Taylor, 2007:380).
The United States of America imposed sanctions against the Khartoum government after it was alleged that the latter was supporting militias fighting in Darfur region. This forced the Khartoum government to seek out other strategic investors. Like in Zimbabwe, China came in handy to fill the vacuum that was left by the western investors.
Financial aid from western nations was suspended and Sudan desperately needed foreign money to run the economy. This is the reason why China was embraced as an alternative to the western nations (Taylor, 2007:380). This is especially so given the fact that the Chinese government was not interested in politics taking place in Sudan (Taylor, 1998:450).
This is unlike the western donors and economic partners who seem to be more interested in local politics (Thomas, 1999:243). Today, oil producers in America and other western nations are helplessly standing by as Chinese oil companies continue to drill more oil-wells in Sudan.
Again, the above scenario is an indication of the fact that the Chinese government is supporting MDGs on one hand while creating hurdles on the other. Chinese investors are providing the Khartoum government with necessary funds to support MDGs. However, the blind eye that the Chinese government turns on the human abuse perpetuated by the Khartoum government is a disappointment.
Without human rights, it is not possible to achieve the MDGs. The Human Rights Watch group claims that the Sudanese government forcefully displaced more than 80,000 civilians from regions that were suspected to have huge oil deposits between 2001 and 2002 (Widner, 2005:573). The Chinese were not bothered by this obvious abuse of human rights.
So is China Supporting MDGs in Africa through Aid and Investment?
The discourse provided in this paper does not in any way support the assertion that the Chinese aid and investment in Africa is helping the poor nations achieve the MDGs (Large, 2009:621).
A critical analysis of this aid and investment will reveal that it hinders the African nations from achieving the international development goals and not the other way round. This point will be proved here by making reference to the various weaknesses associated with foreign aid in Africa and other developing nations.
Critique of China’s Investment and Foreign Aid in Africa
Foreign Aid is Embezzled by Corrupt African Leaders
Sachs (2005:22) claims that most of the foreign aid in Africa is handled by corrupt government officials. Given the fact that official corruption is rampant in Africa more than in any other region in the world, it is not hard to understand why this is so. The corrupt officials use the foreign aid to finance their expensive lifestyle at the expense of the poor citizens (Moyo, 2010:65).
This is especially so in the case of foreign aid given by China to Africa. This is given the fact that Chinese government does not demand accountability on the part of the government official like in the case of western foreign aid. This being the case, it is obvious then that Chinese foreign aid is not a strategy aimed at achieving the MDGs (Martyn, 2008:74).
Misconceptions on the part of the African Leaders
According to Sachs (2005:72), foreign aid in African can create an impression among the leaders that the developing nations are wealthy and willing to spend on any project in Africa. This is especially so considering the huge amounts of money that China transfers to Africa.
Given the fact that Chinese government rarely demands for political accountability (Alemayehu, 2006:24), the African leaders may assume that they are free to spend the foreign aid on any project regardless of whether the project is beneficial to the citizens or not. This is not a strategy aimed at achieving the millennium developing goals.
Foreign Aid is Perpetuating Dependency
Dolan & Tomlin (1980:60) are of the view that foreign aid is used by the developed nations to perpetuate dependency in Africa and elsewhere.
The same applies to Chinese foreign aid in Africa. A case in point is Zimbabwe. Given the fact that the country has been completely shunned by the western nations, it is likely to rely more on Chinese largesse. This will create a situation where the country depends so much on China. This is not good for MDGs.
This paper looked at China’s aid and investment in African within the context of achieving the MDGs. The hypothesis of the paper stated that the aid and investment by this country is not aimed at helping the African nations achieve the MDGs. Rather, the aid and investment is aimed at furthering the influence that China has in the world by supporting the rapid economic growth in this Asian economy.
The researcher reviewed literature from the field to try and prove or refute the thesis statement. The study aimed at answering one major question and four minor ones. The findings as far as these questions are concerned are summarised below:
Is China’s aid and investment in Africa aimed at helping the African nations Achieve MDGs?
It was found that the aid and investment is not aimed at helping the African nations achieve MDGs. Rather, the aid and investment is aimed at furthering the Chinese influence in the world and to support the growing economy. However, it was noted that the funds availed to the African governments may help them to achieve the MDGs if well utilised.
Effects of China’s Aid and Investment in Africa as far as MDGs are concerned
It was found that the aid and investment may impede the achievement of MDGs in Africa. This is given the fact that the aid and investment encourages poor governance in some African nations.
Motivations behind China’s Aid and Investment in Africa
The major aim is to further the influence of this Asian dragon in the world. It is also aimed at supporting the rapidly growing economy in China.
Other Effects of China’s Aid and Investment in Africa
One other effect is the fall-out between some African leaders and their western counterparts. Others include entrenched dependency on the part of the African nations, exploitation of resources among others.
Lessons for Africa, China and other Western Nations
The lessons that African nations, China and western nations stand to learn from the current aid and investment in Africa are captured in the recommendations below.
Recommendations for African, Chinese and Western Leaders
- African leaders should realise that foreign aid from China is not different from the one coming from the western nations. It is bound to benefit the donor more than the receiver. This may hinder the achievement of the MDGs
- Chinese leaders should realise that their influence in Africa cannot be downplayed. As such, they should use their influence positively to help the African nations achieve the MDGs
- Western leaders should realise the fact that China is an emerging nation which has a lot of influence in Africa and in other parts of the world. As such, the western nations should support rather than fight China and together help African nations achieve MDGs
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