By Liberatus Mwangombe “Libe”
To my fellow Africans and Tanzanians who praise and give China credit for building a coalition with African nations. The Chinese government doesn’t care about you – their intentions are not transparent, they do not care about human rights, and corruption is as natural to them as breathing. Even if no one else will tell you what China’s true motivation is, I will. They need our natural resources such as oil and minerals.
I wonder if President, Jakaya Mrisho kikwete, considers the ultimate impact on Tanzania from forming trade alliances with China. Through my personal research I have found historical facts that reveal significant growth in the volume of trading between Tanzania and China. In 1997 Tanzania’s total export of goods and services to China was Tsh 10 billion. In the same year, China’s export of goods and services to Tanzania was Tsh 37 billion. In 2005, a mere 8 years later, these two countries exchanged goods and services worth Tsh 347 billion! Tanzania’s exports represented Sh 101 billion of the total and China’s exports represented Sh 245 billon, more than twice that of Tanzania! (The Citizen, March 2013)
The numbers in 2005 already suggest a Tanzanian dependence on China’s goods and services. In addition, in 2009 the divide widened even further when Chinese President, Hu Jintao, met with Tanzanian President, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and trading was at Tsh 1.37 trillion between the two countries, again, disproportionately! History demonstrates that China has never been a genuine trading partner since they have slowly widened the gap to form a reliable source of income for themselves by providing largely low quality goods and services at inflated prices. As of 2011 the export value between the two countries was at Tsh 2.28 trillion!! I don’t have to tell you which country has the lion’s share of that Tsh 2.28 trillion.
The choices we make every day have the potential to be either positive or negative. Where you chose to live and work, whether or not you chose to further your education, whether you chose to marry or remain single, whether you purchase quality products for your family or inferior ones, whether you chose to live a healthy lifestyle or chose drugs and alcohol, all of these choices and so many more impact your daily life and your future. It is important to make sure the good choices outweigh the bad ones and that the daily choices we make build upon each other to provide future happiness, good health and prosperity. It is a fundamental human desire to be happy and it is my opinion that the current relationship with China will not yield long term happiness for our country.
I often ponder questions about our relationship with China and I would like to pose several of these to you for introspection. There are 17 undisclosed contracts between Tanzania and China and I wonder if we understand what we are signing and agreeing to. Do we understand the terms and conditions? Are the Chinese contributing to the quality of life for our citizens or undermining our quality of life? Our leaders claim that China is benefiting African countries and our leaders have perpetuated this claim for so long that they actually believe it. Our leaders downplay China’s keen interest in Africa’s raw materials that they can obtain for a bargain. The facts are that since 2000 China has obtained a significant number of raw materials from Africa and their exports to Africa have increased 9 times. These factors contribute to China remaining one of the most powerful nations in the world.
Furthermore, China needs support from all 54 African nations to have political advantages. China purposely seeks allies in international institutions like the United Nations to expand their power over smaller nations. Due to the fact that China is a single entity, it is easier for them to create deals that look more appealing than the deals that could be created between the 54 African nations, independent of China. It is more difficult to build cohesion amongst 54 entities than one entity, like China. This is partially why China has a tendency to treat African countries as individuals rather than as an African Union. They are purposefully creating separation between the 54 countries so the dependence on China grows. It is well known that China usually offers package deals that on the surface appear to good to be true. When examined in detail, one can see where China sneaks in access to Africa’s raw materials, aid, security support, transportation and buildings as well as the ability to exploit human resources.
Case study - Angola
To support my theory I offer you a case study done on the country of Angola. Angola is one of the economically poorest countries in the world. Yet they have one of the wealthiest supplies of natural resources. Roughly 40,000 Chinese are living and working in Angola making it the largest trade partner of China. Under the loan agreements drawn up by China and agreed to by Angola; 70% of the projects are financed by the Chinese and built by Chinese companies who use their own labor, equipment and materials. When recently watching the Vanguard channel I learned that Chinese are MAFIA! One Angolans citizen made this statement, “We Angolans practically do nothing because they (Chinese) do everything.” Obviously, this means ordinary Angolans are displaced from potential employment. If even 50% of the employees were Angola citizens that would create 20,000 jobs and therefore, benefit the Angola economy. In Angola most young people live in informal sectors and pawn cheap Chinese made products in the streets to survive (Machinga). When Angolans do apply for jobs at Chinese companies they are only offered the lowest paying positions even if they have professional experience. In short, the Chinese are oppressing Angolans and pushing to develop Africa at an amazing PACE, but at what price??!!
The money and aid supplied by the “West” comes with respect for human rights and transparent intentions free of corruption, unlike China! Are you starting to see why I believe China is morally bankrupt? I will let you in on a secret to further support my belief. China has signed a contract with African leaders in Beijing that says they will never interfere with other countries internal affairs, “no strings attached policy”. On the surface this appears as though the Chinese are only interested in business and this sounds good to African dictators. This is why African politicians are more comfortable dealing with China than other developed countries. Yet, because China is only focused on business and profit they do not care about human rights, which in my opinion makes them morally bankrupt. For any nation or human being who compromises HUMAN RIGHTS for political or profit gain, s/he is MORALLY BANKRUPT. China is. I have to point out that this china’s policy has drawn fire from human rights groups. For example, China’s relationship with Sudan President, Omar Albashir, has been charged with war crimes over genocide in Darfur. China does nothing beneficial for the people of Africa. They do plenty beneficial for politicians.
When exiting the city of Ruanda in Angola you don’t see lions or elephants, just Chinese who are the ones building roads, bridges and railway systems. A story from an Angola girl states, she was dating a Chinese worker and found out she was pregnant. When her father went to notify the Chinese boss so the baby would be provided for, the boss lined up all the workers and unfortunately, the girl couldn’t tell who the father was because they all looked alike. An obvious social dilemma.
USA and China
In recent years, the USA has recalled the majority of products supplied by China. It is well documented that China produces low quality products, which are dangerous to human health. China doesn’t care about human rights, just profit. Can imagine they had imported baby toys with Lead! Research how harmful Lead is to human health.
Some basic questions about China and Tanzania contracts:
Why are the contracts undisclosed to the public?
Do the good aspects of the 17 contracts outweigh the bad aspects?
What are China’s true intentions toward Tanzania?
Are we better off keeping our resources or letting China exploit them?
If we continue to trade, is there a better economic approach then the one currently in place?
The Citizen. (March 2013). Roads, oil and gas on Chinese president’s memo when he drops in on JK. Dar es salaam, Tanzania: DOI: The Citizen
Written by Liberatus Mwangombe “Libe”. This article is a nutshell, no disclaimers