China in Africa: South-South Camaraderie or Exploitation
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Over the past decade, a slew of news reports have focused on Chinese activity in Africa, alluding to a new era of colonialism that is yet again overburdening African nations with debt, pillaging prized natural resources, and threatening the prospect of economic development. Beijing, however, claims its activity is far from colonialism, and is in fact mutually beneficial for the development of China and Africa. The Chinese are offering Africans a new development model, based on their own rapid economic development, which challenges the traditional western model. Through analysis of western, Chinese, and African sources, this study determines what Chinese activity is occurring in Africa and who is benefitting from such activity. The findings indicate that Chinese activity is neither wholly positive nor wholly negative. The Chinese benefit Africa by building vital infrastructure, offering needed investment, and providing training in a multitude of industries. However, they also export shoddy business practices, flood markets with cheap goods, and they support pariah regimes known for committing atrocities against their citizens. What is certain is that the Chinese presence will remain in Africa for the long term. If African government and civil society leaders can coordinate their goals and act in regional or continental blocks, they will obtain the most benefits from foreign actors, both Chinese and western, forcing them to follow regulations and provide timely aid, investment, and employment. With this cooperation, African nations have a promising chance at deterring Dutch disease and developing vibrant economies.