Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Wen Jiabao tours Africa

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is currently engaged in a seven-nation tour of Africa. His latest stop in Angola prompts the BBC to report on China's willingness to embrace the African nations as business partners. From the BBC News:

Recently China, scouring the globe for raw materials to feed its booming economy, has been drawn to Africa as an abundant source of minerals, and has started investing heavily in countries like Angola.

China has increased their involvement with Africa as part of its race to secure the needed resources to fuel its expansion. As energy and mineral supplies become increasingly scarce and developing nations compete with developed countries for supply, countries like China are going to places that the West has largely avoided.

Some say that China's move to secure needed resources from African nations will increase corruption, as money flowing in from China decreases the odds that a country like Angola will adopt the IMF's policies on transparency and accountability.

The Angolan example is far from unique across Africa, where trade with China has exploded in the last few years.

And in the rush for resources, China has no qualms about dealing with countries that the west has criticised or shunned, such as Zimbabwe and Sudan.

China says it has a strict policy of non-interference in other nations' affairs.

It won't tell the countries it deals with what to do and vigorously defends its policy in Africa.

"Sudan is a sovereign country and I'm sorry that we do not develop relations according to US or UK or any other country's instruction," said Zhou Yuxiao, chargé d'affaires at the Chinese embassy in South Africa.

One thing is certain; given the reciprocal nature of China-African relations, the Chinese will probably enjoy a warmer welcome than the one recently extended by the US. See "China's growing focus on Africa" for more background on the importance of Chinese-African trade and China's laissez-faire stance towards the traditionally shunned nations.