Monday, November 06, 2006
post summit Beijing
The China-African Summit decorations are now deflated and the lanterns are looking a little knocked around by the wind but there's shiny new promises from the Chinese Government; increase in China-Africa trade, training African professionals, canceling more debts, China-Africa development fund of 5 Billion US, 3bln US dollar in preferential loans, a conference centre for the the African Union and doubling current to assistance to Africa. China is also to establish trade/economic cooperation zones in Africa.
But at the moment what does this mean to Chinese or Africans? From what I can see Beijingers seemed to be more concerned with the details of the traffic restriction over the conference days than anything else. And Africans? My only insight comes from Kenya's The East African and an article that touches on some of the on-ground realities for Chinese African business relationships, which suggests what life in the Special Economic Zones may be like...
"[China's] companies' prices for contracts are cheap because they pay their workers a pittance. The majority are Chinese, crammed into dormitories and sometimes paid less money than local companies pay casual labourers. Also, they don't mix with the community. As one Ugandan complained, they don't chase local women, so don't pay 'in-law levies'. "They take all the money back to China," he whined. Because they tend to import so many Chinese workers, they employ fewer local people than Western companies, the fact that they have a smaller wage differential between them and the 'native' hires notwithstanding.
Chinese companies, used to an environment riddled with corruption back home, are also known to have paid bribes in several instances, including to an African president who took a huge cut for a stadium contract. African Big Men, therefore, could continue to line their pockets with proceeds from trade with China. The masses of the people are unlikely to benefit."
(Full article here)