Student Yan Chen
The economic and political bonds that have tied the African continent to its former colonial masters on the European continent have undergone a dramatic change within the past 20 years. The emergence of the Chinese government as an economic juggernaut has changed the traditional relationship of North-south agreements between Europe and Africa.
In terms of South-South cooperation, both China and Africa have benefited positively. With the massive investments by the Chinese government on the African continent, many countries are undergoing much-needed rejuvenation in infrastructure.
The Chinese state-owned entities have invested around 6 billion dollars yearly between 2000-2014. The Chinese government itself has extended 86 billion dollars in commercial loans.
In 2015 President Xi Jinping, at the China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), pledged 60 billion dollars in commercial loans to the African governments (Scheidman and Wiegert 2018).
In contrast, for about 400 years of European involvement on the African continent, the level of development by colonial governments has been to their benefit. The intense rush for the African continent began with the Berlin conference between 1884-1885. It was the beginning of the end for self-sustaining Africa. Before the Berlin conference, each nation acted through trading companies and private entities. This manner of trade relationship allowed traders to form individual relationships with local Chiefs.
However, the results of this relationship were heavily in favor of the colonialists. In the following years, the deep exploration into the African continent led to hostilities between competing powers in Europe which could have led to open warfare between the nation-states. For the next three hundred years, the uneven political and economic relationship between Africa and Europe only worsened [Heath,2010].
In contrast, China’s emergence into international world politics started with China’s abandonment of the strict policies of a command economy and the adoption of market incentives. The death of Chairman Mao and the reign of the leadership of Deng Xiaoping initiated capitalist reforms. It allowed growth and the beginning of free enterprise gains.
In December of 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization. With China joining the international body, the full potential of every part of China’s many sectors, state and non-state, emerged. Remarkably in a short time, China pulled itself out of poverty to an economic powerhouse within a relatively short time. With a new worldview, China engaged the world, particularly Africa. Hence, the relationship between Africa and China has had an exponential increase in 15 years.
The social impact between China and Africa has seen China granting African students scholarships to major universities, leading to an influx of Africans to the Chinese economy.
Chinese nationals have migrated to the African continent to become successful in business and love. African-owned entities have taken off in China. Interracial marriages have increased tremendously.
There are several projects to normalize relationships between the African population in China and the native Chinese. The social context of the relationship between Africa and China is perhaps the most important. If two people do not form some basic fundamental understanding of one another, they are bound to perceive each other as contrary or adverse. Both sides should continue to work towards a better relationship moving into the future.
NB; Views expressed here are of the author and not part of iafrica24.news