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

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora