Wednesday, July 11, 2007

china in Africa

When people talk about China's influence in Africa, they should look at it's long history in South East Asia.
From StrategyPage.

Singapore is the wealthiest nation in the region (over $32,000 per capita GDP, about the same as Australia.) While the Indonesians resent the wealthy Australians, for being foreign (European) interlopers, they have a similar attitude towards Singapore. That's because most Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese. For over a thousand years, Chinese merchants have settled throughout Southeast Asia, and prospered. Although there has been some intermarriage, many of the "Overseas Chinese" communities maintain the Chinese language and customs.

Superior Chinese culture and all that. The usual story. This is resented by the locals (be they Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipino, well, you get the picture.) The Indonesians believe, with some justification, that the Chinese look down on them, and exploit them.

The Chinese are more ambitious and work harder, and smarter, and the locals often respond by persecuting their Chinese minority. Indonesia has a GDP of only $4,600 (one seventh of Singapore or Australia).

Indonesia believes Singapore, in particular (because of about four million Indonesians of Chinese ancestry) should do more to help Indonesia become wealthier, and better equipped for combat. The new defense agreement provided Indonesia with one important benefit; extradition of Indonesian criminals who have fled to Singapore. This includes corrupt officials, which Indonesia, per capita, has far more of than Singapore. Meanwhile, Singapore believes it has done its share, and resents being extorted by Indonesian politicians who are merely exploiting racial animosities and stereotypes.

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