When China met Africa

Title When China met Africa
Director(s) Marc Francis, Nice Francis
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Bullfrog Films
Length 90 mins
Location Zambia
Keywords/tags China, neoliberalism, natural resources
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA9w3eVGJS8
http://www.whenchinametafrica.com
Synopsis A historic   gathering of over 50 African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia   where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of   Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new   opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming.

In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese   company is upgrading Zambia’s longest road. Pressure to complete the road on   time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out.

Meanwhile Zambia’s Trade Minister is on route to China to secure millions of   dollars of investment.

Through the intimate portrayal of these characters, the expanding footprint   of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different   future, not just for Africa, but also for the world.

Download and watch the whole film here: http://whenchinametafrica.com/distrify

Reviews/discussion Andrew Pulver, The Guardian, Thursday   6 October 2011:  

An eye-opening documentary that puts   into concrete images that truism of the geo-political commentariat: that   China is a new economic superpower. Specifically, it illustrates a new type   of colonialist exploitation in present-day Zambia, enthusiastically aided and   abetted by the national government. On a micro level, it involves individual   Chinese emigres buying large plots of scrub, and hiring locals to clear and   farm the land. On the macro, giant Chinese corporations are handed contracts   to improve infrastructure: we follow one such, building a highway more than   300km across the country. On the face of it, there’s an anti-western,   post-imperial rhetoric fuelling the relationship, but fairly evidently it’s a   grossly lopsided one, with considerable benefits to China in the form of   plentiful and cheap natural resources. If this documentary is anything to go   by, the Chinese incomers are just as suspicious and disrespectful to the   Africans as their European forebears; you have to wonder how long it will take   the Zambians to become aware of what they’ve let themselves in for

 

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/06/when-china-met-africa-review

 

Xan Rice, The Guardian, Sunday 6 February 2011, China’s economic invasion of Africa: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/06/chinas-economic-invasion-of-africa

Links to other resources Watch interview   with director here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ33UWKfhVQ

 

Wenran Jiang (2009). Fuelling the   Dragon: China’s Rise and Its Energy and Resources Extraction in Africa. The China Quarterly, 199, pp 585609

 

China Talking Points: http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com/video-unreported-world-chinas-african-takeover/

The Debate: China in Africa

 

Title THE DEBATE – China in Africa   (part 1)
Director(s)  
Date released (year) 2013
Production company France24: Anelise   Borges, François Picard, Ignès Bebea, Christopher Davis,
Length 18 mins
Location South Africa
Keywords/tags China, neoliberalism, natural resources
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgTzqnMrFH0
Synopsis Why   the backlash against Beijing? François Picard’s panel pays close attention to   the terms and conditions attached to the $20bn in loans pledged by China’s   new president to Africa and the true pros and cons of a China-Africa   relationship that continues to grow.
Panel:
Solange GUO CHATELARD. Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social   Anthropology. CERI Sciences Po Paris.

Alexandre KATEB. Managing Director, Competence Finance Consulting. Lecturer,   Sciences Po Paris;

Adama GAYE. Author of ‘China-Africa, the Dragon and the Ostrich’;

Reviews/discussion From Xan Rice, The Guardian, Sunday   6 February 2011 20.29 GMT

 

China’s economic invasion of Africa

 

A million Chinese people, from engineers to chefs, have moved to work in   Africa in the past decade. How has the trade boom changed their lives? In   December 1999, a 24-year-old Chinese man called Zhang Hao left behind the   freezing winter of his native Shenyang city to fly to Uganda. Zhang was nervous. He   spoke no English. The journey was not even his idea, but that of his father,   who had worked in Uganda a few years before on a fishing project involving   the Chinese government.

“If you want to start   something – and be the boss – Africa is the place to do   it,” Zhang’s father had told him when he asked for business advice.

Zhang had quit university   to travel to east Africa, but he did not need a degree to spot easy   money-making opportunities as soon as he set foot in Kampala: goods that were   available cheaply in every city in China were either expensive   here, or unavailable. He started by importing shoes. Then schoolbags. Then   fishing nets, nails and bicycles.

“I imported   everything. At that time they needed everything!” recalls Zhang, an   affable man with rimless glasses.

His business grew quickly;   he made money and local friends. But after a few years he grew weary of the   long buying trips to China. So he and his wife bought a large plot of land in   Kampala. On it they constructed a spectacular Chinese-Korean restaurant, with   private dining areas, karaoke rooms and a giant 500-seat dining hall. To the   side of the restaurant they built a bedroom, which became their home. The   business prospered, and soon he started additional enterprises including a   bakery, a firm selling flat-screen televisions and a security company.

“Chinese don’t think,   they just try without studying the market too much. Otherwise, the chance is   gone,” he says.

At the site of each new   enterprise, Zhang built a room for his family – he had a son in 2007 – to   sleep in. They literally live at work.

It has paid off. Zhang   says he is now the biggest Chinese employer in the country, with 1,200 local   staff. He has even been offered a Ugandan passport, but has refused, just as he   has declined to take an English first name.

“I am Chinese, and we   need to build a Chinese name here – to let people know that our country is   not like before. We are richer, catching up the world.”

Few Ugandans need   reminding of that. When Zhang arrived in 1999 there were only a few hundred   Chinese in the country, including embassy staff. Today, the most conservative   estimate is 7,000, from the petty traders who have taken over whole blocks of   the central business district to the construction engineers changing   Kampala’s skyline and the sharp-suited oil executives who frequent Zhang’s   restaurant. It is a similar story across the continent. Figures are hard to   come by, but a decade ago there were probably no more than 100,000 Chinese   people working in Africa. Today, there are around a million.

The first Chinese reached   Africa nearly 600 years ago during the Ming dynasty, when the armada of   admiral Zheng   He landed on the Kenyan coast. The next significant arrival was in the   early 1900s, when 60,000 Chinese miners worked on the South African   goldfields. Half a century on, Chairman Mao Zedong sent tens of thousands of   agricultural and construction workers to Africa to enhance ties with   countries emerging from colonialism.

But post-cold war   migration concerns economics rather than politics. China-Africa trade grew   from $6bn in 1999 to more than $90bn (£56bn) in 2009, roughly split equally   between imports and exports: Africa’s natural resources – oil, iron,   platinum, copper, and timber – flowing east to feed China’s factories, and   finished goods, from flip-flops to trucks, travelling the other way. Last   year, the trade is   estimated to have topped $100bn. Chinese state involvement in the trade   is crucial. Each year Beijing provides billions of pounds in grants and loans   to African governments as a sweetener to secure raw material deals or to   finance infrastructure projects that could benefit its companies.

That is what brought Liu   Hui to Kenya. A slight, 41-year-old   civil engineer, he was working for China Wuyi, a state-owned construction   firm, in Fujian province in 2006 when he was called into his   “leader’s” office, and told he was needed on a project to upgrade   Nairobi’s main airport. Liu had never set foot outside China. He was   reluctant to leave his wife and seven-year-old son. He knew as little about   Kenya as Zheng He’s sailors. “My image was: very poor, dry and   hot,” says Liu. “But if my company wanted to send me somewhere,   what could I have done? You have to show your capacity for work.”

On arrival, Liu found that   Nairobi was neither dry nor too hot. When the airport contract finished, he   was assigned to oversee the construction of a highway between Nairobi and   Thika, a pineapple-growing district to the north-east.

Liu lives at China Wuyi’s   main site office, a four-storey building alongside the highway. Though the   commute to work consists of a flight of stairs, the day is long – from 7.15am   to 6pm. The pace of work is often frustrating, and can be complicated by   language difficulties; Liu speaks in halting English, and knows a few phrases   of Swahili. “Chinese work very hard, very quickly,” he says.   “But here we are training local people to do the work, and if someone   does not understand, he works slowly. You have to watch.”

Most evenings Liu and his   Chinese colleagues – there are about 100 on the road project – watch DVDs on   their laptops or chat to family and friends over the internet. But they do   get out occasionally, for coffee or dinner in nearby malls. Liu says he   intends to return to China for good – his bosses permitting – when the road   project finishes, in order to spend more time with his family.

But for Wang Lina, seated   in her shop in downtown Nairobi, a few miles away, family is the reason she   is here. The child of “normal worker” parents, Wang grew up with   few thoughts of leaving Benxi, an industrial town nearly 600 miles north-east   of Beijing. But in 2003, when she was 21 and newly married, her husband’s   uncle approached them with a proposition. A few years before he had travelled   to Kenya to set up a home furnishings company. Now his business was expanding   fast, and he was looking for family members to help run it. Wang and her   husband agreed to join him.

But she missed her   friends. In Kenya she could not find any clothes to fit her. She was too shy   to talk to local people. So, after a year, she and her husband quit and   returned to Benxi. But soon his uncle came calling again, begging them to   give it another try.

This time Wang found   herself appreciating the upside of living in Nairobi. In Benxi, she had lived   in a flat, but was now sharing a large house and garden with two other   couples from the extended family. Instead of simply being a cashier in the   store, Wang moved into design and sales. She works hard, often seven days a   week, but has also found time to enjoy some of east Africa’s best tourist   attractions – a safari near Mount Kenya, a beach holiday in Zanzibar. She and   her husband have saved enough to buy an apartment back home, which is the   goal of many young Chinese who take jobs abroad, even though she has no   intention of returning soon.

“My friends who now   work in Beijing and Shanghai are so tired,” she says. “There’s no   time to relax, it’s always faster, faster! Things are slower here, and I like   that. No hurry in Africa, that’s what they say.”

China’s move into Africa   has not all been driven from the east. Countries such as Uganda have actively   courted Chinese companies, to good effect: in 2010 China replaced the UK as   the biggest source of foreign direct investment. One of the largest firms to   have set up in Uganda is ZTE, China’s second-biggest telecommunications   equipment company. Zhu Zhenxing, 32, is its MD in Uganda. Growing up in   Jiangsu, along China’s east coast, Zhu was certain about two things: he   wanted to learn English, and wanted to be an international businessman. He   was recruited by ZTE at a job fair, with the promise of a job abroad.

“I did not want to   stay in my home area, or even in China,” he says, puffing on a Dunhill   cigarette. “I wanted to experience things, to grow. The further away the   better.”

So when he was asked to go   to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, Zhu did not   hesitate. “Other people said: Africa is like this and like that. But I   thought if other humans lived there, I could too.”

He learned a lot. The   corruption dismayed him. But Zhu liked Nigerians’ optimism, “always   talking and smiling, not worrying about tomorrow”. He was so desperate   to prove himself that he nearly burned out. He developed vitiligo, a disorder   that causes loss of pigmentation. His face turned white “like Michael   Jackson” and he was forced to return to China to recover.

He returned to Africa via   Vietnam. In Uganda, he has grown ZTE’s business exponentially – the company   sold more than 500,000 handsets this year. Zhu looks the modern high-flyer –   smart shoes, trousers with a Mont Blanc belt, a dress shirt and trendy black   glasses. At weekends he plays golf with clients and Chinese embassy staff.   But beyond that his lifestyle is far more modest than that of most expats. He   and his staff all live in the same apartment block. A company vehicle takes   them to and from work each day. His salary is good by Chinese standards but   not comparable with those of his western competitors. Still, he has no   complaints.

“We are still working   towards being a world-class company,” he says. “Our core competency   is our low costs, so we must keep expenses down.”

If there is one home   comfort Chinese migrants in Africa can’t do without it is their food. Most   companies, including ZTE, bring over their own chefs. Xu Jianwen, 34, is one   of them. Raised and trained in Sanhe, in northern China, he was working in a   restaurant in Beijing when he heard that the China Road and Bridge   Corporation, a state-owned construction giant, was hiring cooks. When he was   offered a job in Uganda, his wife, with whom he has a young daughter,   protested vehemently. But he won her over when he told her the salary – two   and half times what he was earning in China. “Salaries in China are not   enough,” he says. “I had to come for the money.”

His first job was to cook   for 20 Chinese workers in Soroti, a small town in eastern Uganda. He had two   local assistants but, lacking English, no way to communicate with them. At   least the cooking was uncomplicated. Only five vegetables were available   locally – aubergine, cabbage, potatoes, green peppers and tomatoes. “And   there was no spicy sauce,” he says. “I work every day, because   people need to eat every day. I wake up at six in the morning and finish at   seven. Every day is like that. I rest on Chinese public holidays.”

Currently based at head   office in Kampala, Xu plans to spend another two or three years overseas,   saving all the while for “housing, education and food” for his   family. He won’t miss the mosquitoes, he says, but he will miss the people.   “They are very nice. Friendly to Chinese.”

That is not always the   case. In parts of southern Africa there has been strong resentment towards   Chinese traders, many of whom arrive on tourist visas and stay on illegally.   In Zambia, the Chinese managers of a coal mine recently shot two Zambian   employees who were protesting over pay, causing anger across the country. And   in Sudan and Ethiopia, rebel groups have killed Chinese workers because they   view them as proxies of the local government.

In Kenya, home to up to   15,000 Chinese, the main problem for some of the early migrants was a   mistrust of their goods. Xu Hui gave up an editing position at the state news   agency Xinhua to start a toy-import business in the mid-90s. But when he   moved into computers, people did not trust the quality. He resorted to   showing potential clients the labels on the computers they already owned that   said: “Made in China”.

Today Xu runs a successful   business importing Great Wall-brand televisions and giant rolls of toilet   paper that are repackaged locally. He regards Kenya as his home – he enjoys   the “simple, healthy lifestyle”, playing badminton at a sports club   every week – and only reluctantly sent his family back to China for   educational reasons. But though the attitude to Xu’s products may have   changed, he is aware that western attitudes to China’s push into Africa   remain largely negative – something he struggles to understand.

“Western countries   also buy oil, and have mines around the world. People don’t talk about   ‘grabbing’, or ‘new colonialism’ there. So why is it different for Chinese?   We are not sending our armies to places and saying: ‘Now sell us this!'”   Xu says. “If you can’t compete with us, you find an excuse. It’s like   two children fighting, and the losing one crying to his parent about funny   tricks.”

In fact, there is   competition now on lots of levels. Every month thousands of African merchants   travel to cities such as Guangzhou and Yiwu to buy wholesale goods. And other   Chinese firms, including state-owned companies, battle for local tenders.

This can be stressful for   company managers. Just ask Dong Junxia, an earnest, smartly dressed woman.   Since 2008 she has been in charge of the small Ugandan office of the China   Railway Seventh Group Corporation, a subsidiary of CREC, one of the world’s   largest construction companies. She worked on road-building projects in   difficult environments in Tanzania and Liberia, with some success. But in   Uganda her company had yet to win a large tender. Dong seemed ashamed, and   insisted that her name and that of her company stay out of this story.

“I have progressed   professionally [in Africa], but suffered loss in being away from my family.   In western culture it’s different. Being with the family is the priority.   Chinese sacrifice themselves for the family. It is hard to decide which is   more important.”

But a week later she   called to say that her name could be used. She sounded exuberant: her company   has been awarded a large contract to build a road. “After two years of   hard work! You must understand how good that feels.”

• This article was amended   on 7 February 2011. The original said Shenyang was a province. It is a city.   This has been corrected.

 

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/06/chinas-economic-invasion-of-africa

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 585609
FRANCE 24 INTERNATIONAL NEWS 24/7
http://www.france24.com

China Talking Points: http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com/video-unreported-world-chinas-african-takeover/

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/