The Sunday Mail
By Liu Zhun
Source:Global Times and People’s Daily
THE Chinese Ministry of Commerce said recently that China’s direct investment in Africa in the first half of 2015 was $1.19 billion, a large decrease of 40 percent compared to last year. Before the official figure was released, there were reports claiming that the investment had actually plummeted to $568 million, a dramatic reduction of 84 percent.
Still, the reduction is obvious enough to raise controversy among the Western media. Analysts and pundits claim China’s economic downturn, especially a sharp decline in demand for natural resources, puts China’s investment in Africa on the wane. Some even suggest it is time for China’s Western rivals to retake their lost ground by taking advantage of this chance.
In the rhetoric of the Western media, China’s presence in Africa basically has two purposes: exploit resources and edge out all competitors. Not only is such a depiction of China’s endeavor in Africa against empirical and statistical proof, it also reveals the real impression of Africa in the eyes of the West. The Western elite have one criterion, not on an equal footing, to measure the continent – its usefulness.
It is true that China’s economic presence in Africa is growing exponentially. Since 2000, China has been Africa’s biggest trading partner, but according to 2012 statistics, its share of the stock of foreign direct investment in Africa was only 3 percent, out of proportion to that of many Western developed countries.
Besides, according to David Dollar, an expert with the Brookings Institute, most Chinese outward direct investment deals in Africa, against popular perception, are not related to raw materials, but are involved in service sectors, which account for 60 percent.
This means China’s economic activities on this continent do not overly focus on natural resources, but are dedicated to a full-scale improvement of the African economy, which will benefit the Chinese economy as well. More importantly, unlike many Western powers, which have strong colonial connections with the land, China has no political ambitions in Africa.
Africa might be the most resource-abundant but underdeveloped land in the world. It doesn’t mean it is prey for major powers.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to bring more favorable news to Africa during his upcoming visit to Zimbabwe and South Africa, and China is heading to a $100 billion goal of direct investment in Africa by 2020.
Despite malicious accusations from the West, China is forging a mutually beneficial relationship with Africa at its own pace, using visible improvements to demonstrate its goodwill.