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China’s African Takeover

Title China’s African   Takeover
Director(s) Tom Porter, Aidan Hartley
Date released (year) 2007
Production company Channel 4
Length 24 mins
Location Zambia, Congo,
Keywords/tags international   trade, China, mining, natural resources, labour, neoliberalism
Link to film
http://freedocumentaries.org/teatro.php?filmID=369&lan=en&size=big
Synopsis China’s   economic boom is resulting in the biggest scramble for Africa since the end   of European colonialism. Thousands of Chinese workers are now in Central   Africa, buying up copper and cobalt. Reporter Aidan Hartley and producer Tom   Porter begin their journey at a Chinese-owned mining complex. Locals tell   Hartley that Chinese investment is fueling an economic boom in Zambia,   bringing jobs and also skills that they can pick up. But many Zambians also   accuse the Chinese of being so focused on making money out of Africa that   they do not care about the local people. Source: http://freedocumentaries.org/int.php?filmID=369
Reviews/discussion Unreported   World comes from Central Africa, where our demand for Chinese-made goods such   as mobile phones, MP3 players and laptops comes at a terrible human cost.China’s   economic boom is resulting in the biggest scramble for Africa since the end   of European colonialism. Trade between Beijing and Africa has more than   quadrupled since 2000 and hundreds of new companies, many of them partly   owned by the Chinese State, have set up. Thousands of Chinese workers are now   in Central Africa, buying up copper and cobalt.Reporter   Aidan Hartley and producer Tom Porter begin their journey at a Chinese-owned   mining complex. It’s in the heart of Zambia’s copper belt, into which the   Chinese are pouring billions of dollars of investment. Locals tell Hartley   that Chinese investment is fuelling an economic boom in Zambia, bringing jobs   and also skills that they can pick up.

But many   Zambians also accuse the Chinese of being so focused on making money out of   Africa that they do not care about the local people. The team are shown a   cemetery where 46 victims of one of Zambia’s worst industrial accidents – an   explosion at a Chinese-owned factory – are buried. Local residents accuse the   Chinese management of failing to uphold safety standards. Other locals claim   that the factory is responsible for environmental damage, and Hartley finds a   stream heavily polluted by acidic effluent.

From   Zambia, Hartley and Porter travel to Congo, which has been torn apart by a   civil war between armed militias fighting for control of its resources.   Katanga province is one of the world’s richest areas for mineral reserves,   from where Chinese companies are exporting thousands of tonnes of   heterogenite – ore rich in base metals.

In the boom   town of Lubumbashi, the team enters vast open cast mines where countless   thousands of impoverished Congolese toil to earn a survival income. Hartley   and Porter are confronted with an apocalyptic landscape in which many of the   miners appear to be drunk or high on drugs, with fights frequently breaking   out.

Worst of   all, the team discovers that a key aspect of the huge copper and cobalt   mining industry is the exploitation of child labour. Many of the miners have   to hand-dig tunnels into the hillsides, and because the shafts are small they   use children to hack out the ore and shift sacks of rocks. When it rains, the   tunnels are vulnerable to collapse and dozens of miners die every month. The   children are also exposed to radioactivity because this area is close to the   uranium mines that supplied the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Around the   mine, the team find dozens of Chinese brokers exploiting this chaotic   environment by buying-up the ore extract. They react violently when Porter   tries to film them. Local villagers tell Unreported World that although the   Chinese are bringing enterprise, their business practices are making a profit   at a tragic human cost. But, they say, they have no alternative but to trade   with them.

Source: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/unreported-world/episode-guide/series-2007/episode-2

Links to other resources Wenran Jiang (2009). Fuelling the   Dragon: China’s Rise and Its Energy and Resources Extraction in Africa. The China Quarterly,199, pp 585609China Talking Points: http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com/video-unreported-world-chinas-african-takeover/
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