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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs