News / Africa

Analysts See African Backlash Against China

Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd R) and Ghana's President John Atta Mills (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, September 2010.Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd R) and Ghana's President John Atta Mills (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, September 2010.
x
Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd R) and Ghana's President John Atta Mills (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, September 2010.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (2nd R) and Ghana's President John Atta Mills (2nd L) attend a signing ceremony after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, September 2010.
Anne Look
Ghana has arrested more than 100 Chinese nationals accused of illegally mining gold in that country. Zambia seized a Chinese coal mine in February over safety concerns. And Gabon is planning to take back assets from three foreign oil companies - including one from China. These moves and others have some analysts pointing to a backlash against Chinese investment on the continent. While experts say the China-Africa honeymoon may be over, divorce is not likely.
 
China became Africa's top trade partner in 2009. Bilateral trade hit nearly $200 billion in 2012. Some Africans believe they are getting the short end of the stick, however, as they export valuable natural resources to China without receiving much in return by way of jobs or revenue.

Bright Simons, the director of development research at the Ghana-based IMANI group, said China is no longer seen as just a benefactor giving out loans and sending workers to build cheap or free roads, hospitals and stadiums. China is a business partner.
 
"That newfound pragmatism is all the sudden showing up in so many different places at the same time, which is maybe creating the impression that there is some kind of rolling back of the Chinese-African relationship," said Simons. "My view is that it has just gone to another phase, a more mature phase, where Africans are much more sober about what it will take to engage China on a level playing field. It's becoming quite clear that the Chinese are just as vigilant about potential profits as the Western firms and the Western governments are. And for that reason, there is less of that wide-eyed enthusiasm about China."

Crackdown

Ghana is cracking down on foreigners involved in small-scale gold mining, known as "shallow mining," which Simons said has surged in recent years as the global price for gold has fallen making the more capital-intensive deep-pit mining less profitable. The government has rounded up more than 100 Chinese nationals for deportation.  
 
Only Ghanaians can get government concessions for shallow mining, but Simons said they then "rent" them out to foreigners who have the resources and training to actually get the gold.
 
Analysts say African countries, like Niger and Gabon, just want to get more for their natural resources - more state revenue, more local jobs and a better standard of living.  Worldwide demand for resources like oil, coal, iron ore and uranium has strengthened their bargaining position.  Many countries are also increasingly concerned about exploitative or illegal practices.
 
Ben Payton, Africa analyst for the London-based risk analysis firm Maplecroft, says ties between China and African governments are for the most part "very good and getting stronger." But he said the alleged tough treatment of local workers by Chinese firms could put relations to the test.
 
"In places like Zambia, like Ghana, there's a lot of resentment against the Chinese and a lot of pressure on the government to avoid granting concessions to Chinese companies. In the longer term, pressure from below really is going to be the challenge for the China-Africa relationship," he said.
 
Payton said African countries are setting quotas on the number of foreign employees that companies bring in, and are demanding that investors build refineries to process raw resources locally.
 
China is the world's second largest consumer of oil after the United States. It gets about a third of its oil from Africa, including a small portion from Gabon.

Offshore drilling licenses up for grabs

The central African country is about to kick off a new round of bidding for offshore drilling licenses. At the same time, Gabon's government says it is planning not to renew licenses for existing oil fields held by three international oil firms, including Addax, a subsidiary of China's Sinopec.  

The government accuses Addax of irregularities in reporting its bottom line that reduced Gabon's cut of the revenues generated. Addax has denied this.
 
Payton said this dispute reflects Gabon's desire to derive more benefits from its own natural resources.

"What I suspect is that by cracking down on Addax - because this is the second time that Addax has had one of its licenses revoked -- it's probably trying to create a space for the new state oil company, the Gabon Oil Company, to operate because the fields that were operated by Addax will go to the Gabon Oil Company," he said.
 
But Payton said production at that first oil field seized from Addax has declined considerably since the GOC took over, raising questions as to whether the state-owned company is up to the task.
 
Despite the recent turbulence in Chinese-African economic deals, analysts tend to agree that the partnership is here to stay and will only grow - but perhaps on more equal terms.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
June 14, 2013 9:50 AM
China is in Africa for only one purpose: to obtain natural resources to feed China's economic development. The Chinese Govt doesn't care about human rights in Africa. They side consistently with authoritarian govts who oppress their own citizens. China doesn't believe in labor or economic rights. They even sided w/ the genocidal regime in Sudan when it started killing African Sudanese.

by: Sam from: Ethiopia
June 12, 2013 7:25 AM
The advantage with the chinese is that they are productive and if govts. are strong and the system less prone to corruption, they can help African countries develop. The reverse is true if govts. are weak and corrupt system prevails. Visible physical end product are the quality of the chinese, unlike the west. I anticipate no backlash in short time period, maybe in decades when what they can contribute dwindls.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs