A new slave empire and its masters
My last post was about China and so I can keep the Chinese “internet police” in a job, today’s post is also about China and its creation of a new slave empire. Frankly, the economic invasion of Africa by China, bringing with it a new imperialism, is not something I’ve thought about. Guess we’re all too busy with our hedonistic lifestyles to pause for a moment and consider that this is supposed to be the 21st Century, not the 19th Century.
My RSS feeds delivered a truly disturbing article, which I’ll get to in a moment. But first: it’s no secret that China is a rapidly expanding power and it needs resources not only to feed its huge population but to sustain its rapid growth.
It’s also no secret that Africa, despite being pillaged by colonial powers of the 19th Century, is a continent still rich with oil and raw materials. But did you know any of the following?
- China is the second largest consumer of oil behind the US
- Africa has 9% of the planet’s proven oil sources but analysts believe there are undiscovered oil reserves
- one third of China’s oil imports is from Africa
- from 2002 to 2003, trade between China and Africa doubled to $18.5 billion; by 2007, it had reached $73 billion
- China also imports non-oil commodities from Africa, such as diamonds, copper, timber and metals.
Okay, so China is simply trying to secure for itself what France, England, Belgium and other “colonial powers” secured. But it is when you read an article that vividly describes the wretched, bent over lives of poor, hopeless Africans slugging it out for hours in hot, filthy, unsafe copper mines or being beaten viciously by Chinese supervisors that you start to say, hang on, what the? That is what happened to me when I read this article by Peter Hitchens in the Mail Online. I want you to take the time to read it – superbly written and at the same time dragging out of the shadows sordid facts that the Chinese would rather remain in the deep shadows.
I won’t rehash everything from this article. I know your curiosity will be piqued and you’ll read it. But here are some highlights:
- out of desperation, to alleviate poverty and put food on the table, Africa is selling itself to China
- in exchange for Chinese investment in Africa, countries such as Zambia are turning a blind eye to regulation and safety. Whereas Western countries demand tougher rules and regulation in return for aid and investment, China has cancelled Zambia’s debts; is busy building hospitals, sports stadiums and anti-malaria centres and sending Chinese agricultural experts.
- meanwhile, Africans are dying in Chinese factories and mines with lax safety standards.
- Chinese restaurants, clinics and housing compounds abound in countries like Zambia, with the Chinese living separately from the populace
- lowly, poor Chinese workers are dispatched to work in Zambia. The rumour being they are convicted criminals who China wants to offload (clearly, they learnt a lesson from the British dispatching convicts to Oz).
- in the “Democratic Republic of Congo”, the Chinese allegedly pay huge bribes to officials so their products can zoom through customs whilst Western businessmen have to wait for weeks.
- there are accusations of Chinese overseers beating up Zambians and treating Africans “like dirt”.
These are just some of the highlights from the article. Unsavoury, wicked, shameless exploitation are all words that came to mind when I read it. Is this slavery or is this development? Were Britain, France, Belgium or Portugal benevolent colonial powers? Probably not. But colonialism is dead and best left back in the 19th and early 20th Centuries.
Image credits: Getty Images and abovetopsecret