Chinese firms urged to invest in Africa

2013-03-18 16:08

Beijing - Chinese businesses operating in Africa need to follow local laws and put long-term benefits ahead of short-term gains, a Beijing diplomat said Monday, acknowledging that rising trade had created "growing pains" in economic ties.

Chinese companies should work to benefit their African host economies by investing in industries such as power generation, agriculture, textiles and communications that create jobs and generate tax revenues, Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun told participants in an African business seminar in Beijing.

"Making quick money and leaving is a myopic action, and 'catching fish by draining the pond' is unethical," Zhai was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency. He said Chinese businesses in Africa need to compete fairly, respect local laws and customs, and improve worker welfare and environmental protection.

Complaints over business practices have grown as Chinese firms pour into the continent in hopes of winning profits in areas and industries that competitors from the developed world have given up on.

Chinese diplomats were particularly stung by an editorial published in the Financial Times last week by Nigerian Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi which criticized China for exploiting the continent's mineral wealth while undermining its manufacturing industries.

"We must see China for what it is: a competitor. We must not only produce locally goods in which we can build comparative advantage, but also actively fight off Chinese imports promoted by predatory policies," Sanusi wrote.

According to official Chinese figures, China's trade with Africa has grown from $10bn in 2000 to nearly $200bn last year, driven largely by China's demand for oil and other African raw commodities.

Africa is also a major investment destination for Chinese companies building infrastructure ranging from hydroelectric projects to telecommunications grids, with a total of more than $15.3bn invested directly by the end of last year, Zhai was quoted as saying.

Such rapid increases had created "growing pains in China-Africa economic and trade cooperation", Zhai said.

"Although volume increased rapidly, there is not much progress in quality improvement," he said.

  • Bob Wowzer - 2013-03-18 16:37

    Well the Red Army and their slaves are in business with Zim's diamond mines for the long haul...

      john.loveland.9 - 2013-03-18 21:43

      "catching fish by draining the pond' is unethical," Zhai was quoted as saying" Since when do the Chinese do anything ethically. Look at their fishing industry, poaching, human rights, employment ethics.... They will do well in Africa, the continent of all talk and no action.

  • Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-18 17:13

    Chinese would have long quit or withdrawn if not welcomed in Africa, and might have put their money somewhere else. Given the size of Chinese investment and engineering in Africa ($166 billion in 2011), some imperfection in the relationship is not avoidable and nothing surprising.

      sterling.ferguson.397 - 2013-03-18 20:04

      What a dumb statement to say when the Chinese are looking for resources and not developing industries for producing goods in SA or Africa.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-18 21:50

      In terms of infrastructure, Africa has made enormous progress, thanks to the Chinese "barter system" where minerals are exchanged for infrastructural developments and these have resulted in new roads, bridges, schools, stadiums, reservoirs which are in Africa for the African people to use and not stashed somewhere in Swiss bank accounts. Today, roads, bridges and buildings are springing up across Africa from east to west, and north to south. They have built a joint venture refinery in Nigeria - so they get security of supply and Nigeria gets the profits from refining. In all the decades of Shell's exploitation it never dreamt of doing that; refining profits 'belong' to them. Chinese businesses are building industry locally, refineries, chemical plants, plastics factories, garment shops, and all the way down to higher efficiency chicken farms and other agricultural projects. There is MASSIVE technological transfer to Africans, all gratis. China has helped Africa develop hundreds of programmes including the establishment of textile factories, hydroelectric power stations, gymnasiums, etc. Despite talk of "billions and billions" to invest, the Japanese are not here. The Westerners are too greedy and deals done with them over the last 400 years ranged from bad to horrendous from the African viewpoint. So who is left?

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-18 21:58

      In short, you are utterly lacking in any reasoned arguments and can be safely considered to be simply venting due to some other frustrations. Now do try to refute my argument intelligently.

      Warren van Wyk - 2013-03-18 23:41

      @ Fidel: This is what your wonderful Chinese masters are doing to South Africa... Where ever the Chinese go in Africa there is only one winner, C.H.I.N.A. Coz they know they are way smarter than those they are bribing. Only the Malawians & the Zambians have woken up to their tricks, but only after they realised the Chinese had bled them dry.

  • Zamani Myende - 2013-03-18 18:22

    Ama FONG KONG kwaaaaaa

  • rob.martin.94402343 - 2013-03-18 21:42

    HP,Levi and a host of well know brands are made in China, the biggest container ship in the world does a one way trip to supply Walmart, who owns Volvo... they can a will make anything to your spec but what do they do with the other eight hours a day.. make cheap equvilants... have you seen how big the Chinese Embassy is in Maputo.. they here to stay, most of the cheap Town Houses in Gauteng are constructed by the Chinese... should I say more.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-03-18 22:43

      One can't help when reading any article with China in it, that there is a sense of dread, foreboding, in the tone of "did you hear, so and so got eaten by the flesh eating zombies as well , what are we to do, they're coming and we're all doomed." The disdain and contempt that Anglo-Saxons hold for the Chinese is misplaced.

  • del.pearson.98 - 2013-03-18 22:59

    One day Africa will blame the Chinese for the rape of the country and the colonials will be looking like saints. Unless the African decides to bolster his own education and mind set of "WORK" and "DISCIPLINE" everything will be taken from them in their own continent. We already see the abuse of our own people by the Asians that have come in and taken over the textile industry. sweat shops hidden all over the place. No sanitation or luxury for those who are prepared to work for a pittance just to have a meal. Be very aware of what is taking place around you.

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