Tuesday, April 25, 2006

China and big business in Africa

President Hu Jintao's visit to Africa comes at a time of growing Chinese interest in the continent.

Oil pipeline in Nigeria
Africa's oil reserves are a potent lure for energy-hungry China

Beijing is desperate for oil and natural resources to fuel its booming economy. And some African nations have plenty of both.

China is also keen to find new markets for its booming factories which are churning out everything from shoes and cars to textiles and TV sets.....

The most recent Chinese foray into Africa came earlier this month, when China National Offshore Oil Corporation completed a deal to buy a 45% stake in a Nigerian oil block for more than $2bn....

But China's interest in Africa has also sparked anger in the US and Europe.

Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing in Senegal
China's foreign minister recently concluded a tour of Africa
There are concerns about Beijing's willingness to do business with countries whose governments have been the subject of sustained international criticism like Sudan and Zimbabwe.

China insists it is merely trading with these nations and adhering to its policy of non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.

But it is not that simple - Beijing has used its veto at the United Nations to block pressure on Sudan's leaders to halt the ongoing violence in Darfur.

And in the past it has sold arms to Zimbabwe.

There are also concerns in Washington that China's growing clout will undermine American interests.

The US is also looking for energy on the continent, which could lead to a growing competition for influence in Africa.

So China's presence is not without controversy. But Beijing's need for energy and minerals, combined with its desire to increase trade, means that the country's leaders will be making far more visits to Africa in the future.

1 comment:

ChinaLawBlog said...

Unfortunately, China's foreign policy has little to no moral compass at this point. I hope (and actually expect) that as China becomes more economically confident this will change.

China Law

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