Written by Sakina Nazarali, SFU Student
China recently announced that they will be investing $147 million into a copper mining project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Africa, Chinese investments such as this are not uncommon; between the year 2000 and 2015, China provided $95.5 billion in loans across the continent, and in 2018, it pledged $60 billion in loans to Africa.
With the hefty funds, investments, and aid that China is pumping into Africa, the question arises: is China a hero or a monster? Unfortunately, it might be the latter.
Although Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China, has stated that their investment is not intended to have “any political conditions attached,” and that “China does not interfere in Africa’s internal affairs and does not impose its own will on Africa,” much of what’s been built with these loans is being used by Chinese corporations to harvest Africa’s natural resources, similar to what European colonialists did. Like the colonialists, the embezzlement is carried out without much regards to Africa’s welfare, particularly with these companies’ use of child labour and permanent damage to the environment.
In reality, China is submerging African countries into debts they could never repay. China could then develop powerful footholds in politics, finances, real estate and national policies within the African continent. China will then be able reap benefits that go beyond monetary value. Surely, a neo-colonialism that Africa unknowingly welcomed.
If African countries keep letting China infiltrate their countries at this rate, we will see an Africa that is highly dependent on China, an Africa with undercut sovereignty, and an Africa that has halted its own long-term and self-sustained growth. With these loans, I definitely worry that African nations will be left with an impossible and dangerous debt akin to Pakistan and Malaysia.