Monday, June 20, 2011

Fareed Zakaria and Niall Ferguson spar over China exploiting Africa


The rise of economic powers other than the already established ones--USA, UK, EU, the so-called West--is bound to make the established ones feel threatened. Hence, it is not uncommon to hear them complain of China exploiting Africa even as China makes inroads into the continent.

Of course, there are legitimate concerns about the details of some of the contracts that China has made in some African countries, but not any that go beyond the typical issues associated with other contracts signed with the countries of the West. So why the panic?

For a long time, some critical observers and ordinary Africans have asked, even begged, the West to adopt a different aid model than the one that is currently in place. They have asked for an aid model that is not based on pity but one that is based on mutual self-interest--some have called this trade in the famous aid vs. trade debates, but the calls have not been heeded.

There seems to be an abiding notion among the countries of the West that African countries are not capable of pulling themselves by the bootstraps, as it were, and so they deserve charity. This nonsense has been refuted by the African people who have demonstrated their desire to be treated with respect. This is why despite the seeming inequity in the slew of contracts that some African countries have signed with China, the Africans seem to be content and willing to continue dealing with the Chinese. I think in so far as the African countries are not coerced into these agreements (they are not) they should be left alone to do what they want.

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