Patron of African Mismanagement – New York Times editorial
The New York Times editorial page weighs in on China’s expanding, but controversial, role in Africa:
Beijing’s huge purchases of oil and other resources have made it the continent’s third-largest trading partner. Its callous yuan diplomacy is a growing problem for some of Africa’s worst-off people. China’s oil appetite has drawn it into an ugly partnership with Sudan, which is waging a genocidal war in Darfur that has already killed at least 200,000 people. China has blocked the United Nations Security Council from ordering Sudan to accept an effective peacekeeping force and has shielded Sudan from any serious punishments. On this trip, Mr. Hu wrote off Sudanese debts and provided an interest-free loan for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir to build a new presidential palace. Another favorite is Zimbabwe’s president-for-life, Robert Mugabe. That is bad news for Zimbabweans hoping for free elections, sane economic policies or merely a peaceful transition once the octogenarian finally departs.
Even in Africa’s better-governed countries, China’s growing economic role has not been much help to the poor. Chinese mining investors in Zambia, as focused on the bottom line as any capitalists, have drawn complaints from workers and environmentally minded neighbors. China’s lending banks do not subscribe to the international guidelines, known as the Equator Principles, that are used to monitor and manage the social and environmental impact of major outside investments. And a flood of cheap Chinese manufactured goods has pushed some of the poorest and most marginal workers deeper into poverty and unemployment. [Full text]