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

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid