China’s Wild West
World Changing introduces a remarkable photography exhibit now on in Rome as part of Fotografia festival, which chronicles the Chinese presence in Africa. From the introductory text by photographer Paolo Woods and journalist Serge Michel:
To quench its thirst for oil, its hunger for copper, uranium and wood, Beijing has sent out its state companies and its adventurous entrepreneurs to conquer Africa.
For the 500.000 Chinese who have emigrated to the ‘dark continent’ there is the promise of a 21st century Wild West. Some have struck gold and run large conglomerates that span whole regions of Africa, others are still selling their cheap goods on the burning hot roadsides of the poorest countries in the world.
For the Africans, the arrival of the Chinese is perhaps the most important event of the forty years of independence. The Chinese do not look like the former colonialists. They build roads, dams and hospitals and win over the people. They speak neither of democracy nor transparency and they win over the dictators.