Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hu defends China roll in Africa

JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 7 -- Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday sought to reassure Africans that his country's aggressive investments in oil, copper and other natural resources do not amount to a new wave of colonialism, saying China would "not do anything harmful to the interests of Africa and its people."

Hu's comments, made in Pretoria on the sixth stop of an eight-country tour of the continent, came amid rising anxiety that China's economic power is strangling African manufacturing while locking up vital resources for years. ...

Commentators increasingly compare the relationship to that of European countries and their African colonies, in which the ruling powers extracted natural resources at marginal cost and forced the colonies to import costly manufactured goods....

China has long-standing relationships with many countries in Africa, dating to the era when its communist government backed liberation movements seeking to overthrow colonial and white supremacist governments. In the past decade, China has dramatically escalated its role through a combination of major construction projects and investments in materials needed to keep its manufacturing boom at home alive.

Chinese companies have built railways, water treatment plants, telecommunication systems, highways and port facilities, often subsidizing projects or working for much less than the bids of competitors. And Chinese companies have not been content to merely buy raw materials; increasingly they are investing in production capacity, purchasing oil blocks in Nigeria or copper mines in Zambia. China also has delivered billions of dollars in aid and loans.

African governments have largely welcomed the largess, as well as the lack of accompanying demands for human rights reforms,...

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