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Dec 07

The Partnership between Africa and China – a Force for Good or Evil?

Written by Allen on Sunday, December 7th, 2008 at 7:26 pm
Filed under:Analysis, General, media, politics, video | Tags:, , , ,
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We’ve had impassioned discussions about Tibet this year.  But the controversies surrounding China has not just been about Tibet – they have also been about Africa.

In anticipation of a series of posts on Africa, I thought I would put a few feelers out to see if people on this forum would be interested in discussing the topic, and if so, where people initially stand.

In brief: in its search for resources and markets, China has approached Africa as a legitimate, equal business partner.  In stark contrast with the West, China has not chosen not to attach any political strings (reforms relating to human rights, fiscal policies, democracy, for example) in much of her dealings with African nations.

Some see China’s no-strings attached approach as an opportunity for Africa to finally break free from the shadows of Western Imperialism and the resulting cycles of poverty.  Others however see China’s approach to Africa as a type of neo-colonialism in itself.

Recently I came across a short video program that features both views.

Riz Khan – China in Africa – 25 Jun 08 – Part 1:

Riz Khan – China in Africa – 25 Jun 08 – Part 2:

I am not here (not in this post anyways) to defend or accuse China.  As I mentioned above, I just want to put out feelers to lay out the issues.

One thing I’d probably take issue with though is the notion that Africa is a “dark continent” that needs someone else’s stewardship. I really don’t think Africa is either the West’s or China’s responsibility to develop.  If anyone argues otherwise, we might as well (in my view) be arguing for officially making Africa someone else’s formal colonies again …

A book I recently came across by Vijay Mahajan called “Africa Rising” showed how dynamic, capable, and optimistic its people are/can be.  Here is a short video clip of the author discussing the book:

P.S. Yes I just got back from a visit to Taiwan and the Mainland.  I’ll put up a short picturelog later next week if my pictures turn out half decent.  Look forward to reconnecting with everyone here!


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41 Responses to “The Partnership between Africa and China – a Force for Good or Evil?”

  1. bt Says:

    Hi Allen,

    Welcome back! Nice to see you online.
    I would say everything lies in the hands of the African (sub-saharian, Maghreb being much more developed) themselves … my bet is for a return of a ‘great game’.

  2. Allen Says:

    Another issue I’d like to highlight is the issue of “exploitation.” Veiled in many people’s concern about China’s dealings with Africa is the notion that China is “exploiting” Africa. Is China really exploiting Africa?

    To me (as a lawyer, I suppose), it is always an interesting question to ask what is “exploitation”?

    Does China’s current modernization efforts represent exploitation of the West on China (in terms of labor and environmental resources) – or perhaps of the CCP on the Chinese people?

    Does capitalism – by providing for “passive” (i.e. investment) incomes for the rich – represent exploitation of the “working class”?

    Do wages set by supply and demand (with CEOs sometimes making 100 or more times than the average worker) represent exploitation?

    Does the U.S. tax system represent an exploitation of the poor – or perhaps the rich (e.g., since top 50% of U.S. wage earners pay 96.03% of U.S. income taxes )?

    Does globalism itself constitute exploitation?

  3. bt Says:

    Capitalism is the exploitation of man by man … Communism is just the opposite 🙂

  4. pug_ster Says:

    This is totally different from Colonialism days from the western nations as China has no influence in Africa’s government. Heck yes that China needs the raw materials to sustain its as the factory of the world by getting raw materials from those Africian countries. As far as I can tell there is nothing wrong with China’s mercantialism.

  5. I think I'm 'against China'! Says:

    Gosh, and I ‘for China’ or ‘against China’? Not sure. Obviously it will be one or the other though.

  6. WillF Says:

    China has no influence on Africa’s governments? Who do you think benefits the most in Africa from China’s transactions?

    That being said, I don’t see China doing business in Africa as per se (I’m a law student, sorry!) evil. To the extent that China’s growing trade presence in Africa provides much-needed income to African trade partners, and the transactions are on the whole “fair,” I’d say China is doing something good. However, China is in a much stronger position vis a vis any single African nation, and thus there is a strong possibility that China will abuse its position. One potential point of concern would be China’s influence over the governments of African nations. I don’t think it’s far-fetched to imagine China pressing African officials to ignore their countries’ own labor or environmental laws (for example) so that the Chinese companies involved may make more profits or may be excused from civil or criminal liability. I’m not saying this is occurring, and I’m certainly not arguing that China is the only country capable of doing this kind of thing.

    I suggest we (the impartial observers) give China the benefit of the doubt, since there’s nothing wrong with two countries doing business together. However, given the sheer volume of trade being conducted between China and African countries, there’s a good chance there will be some sort of scandal sooner or later, if there hasn’t been one already (I must admit I’m not exactly digging around for this stuff). If and when that occurs, we should condemn them as we would had they involved any other country. In other words, foreigners shouldn’t scream any louder, and Chinese shouldn’t keep their mouths shut, simply because China was involved.

  7. Raj Says:

    Some see China’s no-strings attached approach as an opportunity for Africa to finally break free from the shadows of Western Imperialism and the resulting cycles of poverty. Others however see China’s approach to Africa as a type of neo-colonialism in itself.

    I find it difficult to get that hyped up about China in Africa. News is mixed, even from African sources – it depends who you listen to and where.

    My view is that China isn’t thinking long-term enough. A no-strings approach is good in getting resources now, but is China interested in African long-term development? No bank will loan money or a millionaire invest in a company without conditions attached. Wouldn’t China get a bigger “return” one way or another if it pushed recipient states to be more efficient, reduce corruption, etc? Does blocking (even though threats) sanctions against Robert Mugabe help Zimbabwe or stunt its growth and thus reduce chances for Chinese business opportunities?

  8. vmoore55 Says:

    Some said that the West’s over investments overseas has made China rich and the West poorer. The US regrets making this dumb mistake.

    And the UK has poured endless blns into this deep black hole for ages and nothing has changed but more people and more hunger.

    China good to take note and stay clear of this African curse.

  9. Wukailong Says:

    Personally, I haven’t switched to the “exploitation” paradigm with regards to China/Africa ties. These deals seem to be on the level of raw materials in exchange for infrastructure or food aid. Cuba, which is another example, gets food for providing nickel.

    Also, the Western insistence on democracy for giving aid is misguided. The donors should instead focus on making sure the money really comes to the projects it’s supposed to finance, otherwise it will be like an African student once told me: “Some country sends money to build a dam, and the next week you see the leaders coming in new limousines.”

  10. A-gu Says:

    As you seem to understand, the idea of China engaging Africa as equals and engaging mutually beneficial trade is fantastic; the prospect of China coddling highly exploitive, corrupt and abusive regimes is far less appealing, especially when it undermines international efforts to encourage regimes to reduce corruption and improve human rights.

    Any moral high ground here is unoccupied by any of the players — China, the West or African regimes.

  11. pug_ster Says:

    @10 A-gu

    First of all, the Western Nations are using the corruption and human rights abuse scheme to bully those Africian Nations to turn their way. Even if those accusations are true, the western nations are waving a finger at those Africian Nations and doing nothing while the people living in those African Nations suffer. Even if they got some leader which ‘reduce corruption and improve human rights,’ the people are still suffering. The Western Nations on the other hand have been the cause of some of the African countries suffering, like Zimbabwe. The IMF demanded all their money back from Zimbabwe because it doesn’t like the way Mugabe do things. Now the people in that country are dying of Cholera. Even if Mugabe would leave tomorrow, its corruption and human rights abuses will still be there.

    China on the other hand wants to follow their model where building the infrastructure, hospitals, schools, etc hopefully make it to a more developed nation. Hopefully change can come from within.

  12. A-gu Says:

    @11 pug_ster

    Sure, I agree that lots of the methods the West has been using to try and improve the situation has been ineffective — I had a roommate doing graduate studies in… the title escapes me, but it had to do with Development. International Development, something like that. Anyway, the fact is that most of what’s been tried so far is ineffective.

    Directly building hospitals, schools, and infrastructure is great, and I applaud that move, and change will come from within for sure.

    But that is also not the limit of what’s going on, and that has to be remembered.

  13. Falen Says:

    It’s not China’s place to tell African countries what to do. African countries should decide for themselves how they want to develop their own country. China is giving them choices. If they are not happy with their China deal, they are free to kick the Chinese out and go to the IMF/World Bank. Not like China’s putting a gun to their head.

  14. WillF Says:

    I think one of the concerns is that China won’t be building hospitals and schools, but rather will be buying up resources, and the money from those resources will go into the pockets of the countries’ leaders rather than to national development. That’s the main concern with China’s “no strings attached” policy: it doesn’t care that the governments it deals with are hopelessly corrupt and ineffective (Zimbabwe) or even that they are complicit in an ongoing genocide (Sudan). I worry that the ones who will benefit from China’s trade with Africa are not the people of Africa, but rather the elites of these gruesome regimes.

  15. WillF Says:

    @Falen

    The problem is, who are “they”? The ones in charge in many of the countries China deals with have no accountability to their people. “They” will be happy with the Chinese offers because in many instances they will be keeping most of the money for themselves.

  16. Falen Says:

    What exactly is wrong with the attitude that says, “I am not sure what’s good for you therefore I am not going to tell you what to do, everyone’s gotta be responsible for themselves”? Sounds like a pretty healthy attitude for an individual as well as a whole nation.

  17. Moneyball Says:

    China knows too well a country doesnt have to follow the western path to get to prosperity.

    When China opened up in early 80’s, it wasnt much better than Africa today, bureaucracy, corruption everywhere, skyhigh illiteracy rate, none existing infrastructures. The foreign investment opened up thousands of bloody workshops but none schools and hospitials, it benefited CCP officials more than anybody else, yes it was sad and ugly, it was unjust and unfair, but look at where China is now after 30 yrs, ultimately 400 mil people have been lifted out of poverty. Anyone here thinks that West should have let China cleaned up the house first before invested here? 400 mil people should have stayed poor for another 30 yrs in name of values and principles?

    The west has tried their way with Africa for 60 yrs and failed miserably, now its time to be humble and stay out of way, instead of bitching like a sisy little girl. And enough with this so called neo imperialism or natural resource exploration, when Nike pays Chinese workers 5 dollar for a pair of Air Jordan and sells it 100 dollars back at home nobody calls it imperialism, but China cant do the same thing in Africa? and the last time I checked US is still the biggest African natural resource importer

  18. Wukailong Says:

    @Moneyball: I think Africa is in a much worse condition than China ever was during the Mao years. At least China had a working government that actually did carry out policies from above, whatever people might have thought of them. Infrastructure was developed over the years and basic healthcare provided.

    Actually, I would say all countries have basically followed the same way to prosperity by opening up markets and allowing investments. While the Chinese example might not follow the Western textbooks, it follows the Western example – developing one’s own industry with certain protectionism, while allowing free trade in many other areas.

    “Nike pays Chinese workers 5 dollar for a pair of Air Jordan and sells it 100 dollars back at home nobody calls it imperialism”

    People might not call it imperialism, but it has been called exploitation and a whole bunch of other things by the critics of capitalism (and a lot of this criticism is justified, I think). There were quite some demonstrations in Seattle back in 1999, if you remember.

  19. wuming Says:

    @WKL

    I think you have touched on two crucial factors on whether a country can pull itself out of poverty and get on the road to prosperity:

    First, is there a semblance of government that is capable of self-governing. I would argue many of the African nations never did.

    Second, to put it as un-PC as possible, are the people of that country willing to be exploited? If peoples’ general expectation exceeds their current condition, then too often that destroys the labor market and hence the entire economic system. My scant knowledge on Africa seems to indicate that is the case in many countries.

  20. WillF Says:

    “At least China had a working government that actually did carry out policies from above, whatever people might have thought of them. Infrastructure was developed over the years and basic healthcare provided.”

    “First, is there a semblance of government that is capable of self-governing. I would argue many of the African nations never did.”

    I agree. China circa 1978 was quite different from, say, DR Congo today. Levels of poverty aside, China had effective governance and a relatively disciplined leadership that (I would argue) in most cases had the country’s best interests in mind. It’s thus not particularly useful to compare China with Africa.

  21. vmoore55 Says:

    How do you make a developed country into a 3rd world country?

    I dunno, go ask South Africa.

    The sad truth is that Africa is plagued with an uncivilized collection of warring tribes and they want only for themselves.

    Never will they unite to become a whole people like that of China and China still has a few rebel tribes to deal with like those in Tibet.

  22. Moneyball Says:

    Both Africa and China are huge places, I m sure Congo or Zim or Somali are hell-holes rightnow, but I’ve been to countries like Kenya and Tanzania, actually very nice places. I can tell you they look much better than Beijing in early 80’s as far as i can recall. Some of westerners still call 100 miles out of Beijing “dirt poor”, imagine what the deep rural part of China was like 30 yrs ago.

    The point is, business is business, if you treat u partner like a convict on parole, your business is bound to fail. The most important human right is not free election, or freedom of speech, it is right to foods and shelters. When a country gets up on its knees, its ALWAYs a small group of people get the biggest slice of the pie, it was like that then, it is like that now, it ‘d be like that on Mars as well. We can only hope the rich get everything they need, then they would want to change the community to a better place, that the 2nd or 3rd pie would benifit the people at the bottom. The West has been giving billions of dollars to the charity, so that the money can go to the poor directly, so that their values and principles wouldnt get tainted, where has that led you to so far? It simply doesnt work like that.

  23. GNZ Says:

    Any interaction between African states and China will result in China having influence over them and their behaving in ways that China would prefer. Even if China pretends they put no conditions on their investment for Public relations reasons.

    But it seems to me much of africa is practically “all eviled out”. So much so that just about anything China does is likely to be a force for good and the more it does the better.

  24. WillF Says:

    “We can only hope the rich get everything they need, then they would want to change the community to a better place, that the 2nd or 3rd pie would benifit the people at the bottom.”

    I’m not saying it’s wrong for the well-connected to get rich first. It’s unfair, but it’s inevitable. The problem is that some countries in Africa are so corrupt that China’s investments may result in no tangible improvements to the country: just money in the pockets of the elite and resources for the Chinese. I’m not saying this is inevitable, but the fact that China doesn’t seem to care what the end result is as long as it gets what it wants suggests that it won’t change course if it seems its policies aren’t benefiting the “people at the bottom.”

  25. Allen Says:

    @WillF,

    You wrote:

    The problem is that some countries in Africa are so corrupt that China’s investments may result in no tangible improvements to the country: just money in the pockets of the elite and resources for the Chinese. I’m not saying this is inevitable, but the fact that China doesn’t seem to care what the end result is as long as it gets what it wants suggests that it won’t change course if it seems its policies aren’t benefiting the “people at the bottom.

    If it is China’s responsibility to make sure that African governments spend resources in a way that most benefit the people, shouldn’t China also be responsible that Africa is governed effectively such that we might as well make Africa a colony?

    I am not saying this facetiously. I mean it – as a matter of principle.

    Just as corporations have social responsibilities, so should global actors have responsibility to take some regions under colonization.

    The difference may be that this time around, we really mean it. In this era of globalism: colonization is no longer a pretense for exploitation, it is a heavy responsibility to be taken by a few global elite.

    My personal take however is that China has enough problems of its own. There is no guarantee that the CCP, despite its taking governance seriously, will not mess up governing Africa.

    In general, barring strong evidence to the contrary, I’d rather presume that it is the Africans, not the CCP, who are in the best position to decide how resources should best be allocated in Africa.

    Yes – there are going to be corruptions (inefficiencies). But there are inefficiencies in all economic transactions – just look at the lawyer fees Corporate America regularly spend every year in forming contracts, structuring deals, enforcing IP, etc. Just because there are transactional inefficiencies does not mean such transactions should be stopped altogether.

  26. Falen Says:

    Whether China “care” or “don’t care” doesn’t change the fact that China can only do trade some and invest some in Africa. China hold no pretenses, and honestly doesn’t know how to solve Africa’s problems nor does it have the capability to influence Africa for the better.

    That said, China doesn’t need permission from the West to conduct free trade because of A or B or C. Africa is composed of soveriegn nations that can freely enter into agreements however they see fit. If the “West” has great ideas for Africa, great, not like China’s stopping the do-gooders from doing whatever they want.

  27. WillF Says:

    Nobody’s saying China needs permission from the West to do anything. The question is an ethical one, and the Chinese should discuss among themselves the implications of their government’s conduct. That being said, people from all over the world, Westerners included, are free to discuss China’s conduct as well, as they are free to discuss the conduct of any nation.

  28. Edwin Says:

    Hey,
    a very interesting piece. China is raping africa of it’s resources and at the putting many small businesses to the side. Cameroon where I am from is a an example, and many people had to take to the streets to protest China. Many traders in cameroon will tell you that ever since China stepped in, they either saw their profits go down or some of their friends put out of business. Imagine a mother who had a small road side restaurant and whose family depended on the small profits she made, and then is put out of business by a chinese selling for less. My point is, the chinese are going for everything even after what the locals use to sell to feed their families.
    Its not like they just decided one day to moved in, they obviously had permission from someone, which is the goverment. And because those running the country (in the case of camerron) are so corrupt, they care more about what they as individuals stand to benefit. It is left to Africans to decide.

  29. Falen Says:

    Right… and like there must be so many Chinese in Cameroon. They are just like suffocating all the local economies pushing natives out, by, of all things, providing less expensive dining. Death by the Chinese takeout?

    Googling around I came across this gem of an article by BBC:
    Chinese in Cameroon do healthy trade
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/893055.stm

    from 2000, like long time ago…

    It contends that Chinese doctors are just putting native, western-trained doctor “out of business” because the Chinese treatments has been “effective, relatively cheap and Chinese healers are more accessible than western trained doctors” and “Almost every town in Cameroon now has at least one traditional Chinese clinic. ”

    Let me get this straight, where on Earth is More Doctors = Bad thing? I am amazed. Cameroon must have so many doctors that the competition is just too fierce. Can I, without running off to google, conclude that Cameroon population is healthy? Note the article as laughably biased as it is, never talked about any patient been inproperly treated and as a result getting hurt. The one and only bone the author has to pick with Chinese doctors: putting native western trained doctors out of business, which is quite questionable…

    And “ONE” clinic in every town is a BAD thing?

    Of course, it’s Chinese, so of course they are practicing “merchantilist medicine”. Run away from the evil Chinese doctors!

  30. shel Says:

    I think all the critic about china in Africa are wrong, China is now in South and Central America. So please get another Behar to start a new round of criticism about Chinese exploiting Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and Chile. By the way, the previous Behar should criticized chinese exploitation of Australia in big time, chinese buy almost 90 percent of Austalian mineral and is now buying the mines too. If this is not exploitation I don’t know what is.

  31. GNZ Says:

    any time there is change you can always get a story out of the disadvantaged crying foul. Those that are doing well out of it will just quietly get on with business.
    What that seems to create is an unwillingness to make any change that results in anyone being disadvantaged even if it is good for a far greater number – the Chinese doctor example is a good example.

  32. JL Says:

    Some random thoughts:

    1) I know it’s probably just to get people’s attention, but characterizing China’s involvement in Africa as either good or evil is never going to work. You can take concerns about growing political influence and China’s role in Africa governance seriously without thinking that it’s wrong for China to trade with Africa.

    2) Self-righteous arguements which try to prove that either China or the West is better for Africa are pointless and tedious. They will inevitably miss the details, and the way that neither region’s engagement with Africa is homogenous. It is simply ridiculous to put Leopold’s rule in the Congo in the same boat as the current operations of the Red Cross. Likewise Chinese doctors working in Cameroon have a very different effect from Chinese arms deals with Zimbabwe. If you’re going to do more posts on Africa, that’s great, but I, for one, won’t be able to take them seriously if you attempt to produce general conclusions about all of China’s (or the West’s) dealings with Africa.

    3) The notion of neo-colonialism is interesting, but you might want to read more about older colonialism too. You suggest “Just as corporations have social responsibilities, so should global actors have responsibility to take some regions under colonization.” Well, that’s exactly what Europeans said in the nineteenth century. You might say it was just a pretext for exploitation. But how do you know that it always was? If you want to make comparrions with European involvement in Africa, they should be specific and take European colonialism as a serious subject of inquiry, rather than as simple sign for injustice. One of the interesting things about China right now is that since the beginning of the twentieth century, it has had a kind of institutionalized revolutionary anti-imperialistic, anti-great-power (列强) world-view. Now, however, it is in the position of being an emerging great-power itself. The question of how a government plays the role of anti-great-power great-power is every bit as interesting as the question of how a Revolutionary party like the CCP adapted to being a party of government.

  33. WillF Says:

    @JL

    Wow, your post pretty much says my thoughts exactly (and is much more concise too!).

  34. Allen Says:

    @JL #32,

    Thanks for your post.

    Regard point 1: you are right the title of good v. evil was not an expression of my thought, just my way of plugging into terminology used in today’s public discourse (to better get attention).

    Regarding point 2: you are also right that this post was not meant to dwell into the specifics (as I specifically made known in the post). I just wanted to get a sense of where people in general stand.

    Of course, there are also people like you who are less ideological about Africa and China’s relationship, and who would find broad stroke discussion like this somewhat superficial. Well, your point is well taken.

    Regarding point 3 – and especially the point that I should treat European colonialism as a serious subject of inquiry, rather than as a simple sign for injustice. That’s a good point, too.

    No doubt for many of the 19-20th century, “white man’s burden” was a rallying cry for social justice and not exploitation. And no doubt, many of our knee-jerk reactions to colonialism (as well as Hitler’s Nazi Germany and even communism) come out more often as a learned reflex rather than measured response to critical thought.

    I’ll keep this point in mind in my future posts! 🙂

  35. Jerry Says:

    @JL #32
    @Allen #34

    JL and Allen, I am not into assessing good and evil, right and wrong, which country is good, which country is evil. That is “Bush Doctrine”. May it die a horrible death! “Bush Doctrine” to me is evil, a euphemism for predation.

    “Likewise Chinese doctors working in Cameroon have a very different effect from Chinese arms deals with Zimbabwe.”

    Amen!

    Allen said, “Just as corporations have social responsibilities, so should global actors have responsibility to take some regions under colonization.” Yes, it sounds like the sophistry (Thanks, Ted, for bringing that word back into play!) utilized by most, if not all, colonial powers. It is a euphemism, political spin, a pretext as you say, JL and pretense.

    Nonetheless, I agree with Allen’s statement, not from a colonization point of view, but from the viewpoint of global impact. Let me explain.

    Africa is the site of resource battles, economic resource wars if you will. Who wins and to what degree, does not matter in the long run. Even if we equitably split up the resources in Africa, even if we distribute the money equally to all Africans, it does not matter in the long run. Why, you may ask? Certainly, most of these resources are “necessary” for a good life for Chinese, Americans, etc. The Africans need the money, that’s for sure. Hmmm… My points are A) that these resources are feeding and driving consumerism, capitalistic consumerism and B) that we can’t afford to turn Africa into just one more environmental disaster. I believe that consumerism and creation of environmental disasters can’t be sustained, given our present circumstances.

    I have written about Ecological Footprint and Biocapacity before. These are terms created by the Global Footprint Foundation and WWF, to measure the sustainability of life and ecosystems on Earth. Here is a brief snippet from another post, Tibet Turning Over a New Page: Comment #305

    Ecological footprint versus the Earth’s biocapacity are very abstract terms. Here is the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) definition: Ecological Footprint (EF) measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area required to produce the resources an individual, population, or activity consumes and to absorb the waste they generate, given prevailing technology and resource management. The Earth’s biocapacity (BC) is the amount of biologically productive area – cropland, pasture, forest, and fisheries – that is available to meet humanity’s needs. Demand vs. Supply.

    In 1961, Earth’s population was 3.08 billion people. Ecological Footprint (EF) was 4.5 billion global hectares (gha) versus Biocapacity (BC) of 9 billion gha. A 50% surplus of BC. By 2003, the population was 6.3 billion people. Ecological Footprint (EF) was 14.1 billion gha versus Biocapacity (BC) of 11.2 billion gha. EF has overshot BC by 25%. Essentially, what we have is “deficit spending.” On a global basis.

    In 2003, the US, with a population of 294 million, had an EF of 9.6 gha per person and BC of 4.7 gha per person. Japan, with 127 million, had an EF of 4.4 gha per person and BC of 0.7 gha per person. China, with 1.311 billion, had an EF of 1.6 gha per person and BC of 0.8 gha per person (Correction of original post).

    Addenda to previous comment: EU, with a population of 454 million people, had an EF of 4.8 gha per person, and BC of 2.2 gha per person. Africa, with a population of 847 million people, had an EF of 1.1 gha per person, and BC of 1.3 gha per person (surplus BC). Latin America, with a population of 535 million people, had an EF of 2.0 gha per person, and BC of 5.4 gha per person (50+% surplus of BC).

    In 2008, WWF did a follow-up report on Asia and China. From 1961 to 2003, China, Japan, the EU, and USA showed significant growth in the overshoot of biocapacity.

    Now, you may ask, what happens if we continue to ignore issues like biocapacity overshoot, what is going to happen? Global Footprint and WWF are very clear. If we don’t do anything, or take a slow approach, we risk the collapse of global ecosystems in 30-40 years. From an ecosystemic approach, we are living unsustainably now, and living more unsustainably with each passing year.

    Reports and information are out at Global Footprint Network

    ++++++

    So, in essence we should be concerned what happens in Latin America, Africa, SE Asia, China, USA, North America, EU, etc. Everywhere! Why? Because we are now partially living off the capital of our ecosystems, not just the interest produced by that capital. (sorry for the banking metaphor). We are living unsustainably. We don’t want to even get close to destroying the ecosystems. Would not be pretty! Most Faustian bargains are ugly. I have a feeling that this bargain would be the ugliest.

    So, that is why I agree in principle with Allen’s statement, “Just as corporations have social responsibilities, so should global actors have responsibility to take some regions under colonization.” We all have responsibilities, globally, not only to each other, but to generations to come. What will be our legacy? What epitaph will future generations give us?

    BTW, note to Sarah Palin: Africa is a continent, not a country. And “Bush Doctrine” is not a movie shown near Times Square in NYC. 😀 ::LMAO::

    BTW 2, Africa is the second largest continent. FYI.

  36. Wukailong Says:

    @JL: Good points. I don’t believe much in Huntington’s ideas of clash between civilizations, but the power game in the world now is most certainly back to the good old days of big power politics (like Europe before the world wars). I’m thinking, for example, of how the US, China and Russia are all either fighting against or teaming up with Venezuela.

    One might argue that we had the same problem during the Cold War, but back then (and I would argue, during WWII too), ideological schisms were much more important.

    @Allen: “And no doubt, many of our knee-jerk reactions to colonialism (as well as Hitler’s Nazi Germany and even communism) come out more often as a learned reflex rather than measured response to critical thought.”

    Thanks for bringing that up. Even when it comes to what is now considered the historical forces of evil in our secular world, we could do with more reasoning and less passion.

  37. Wukailong Says:

    The aspiring dictator’s guide, on how to succeed in Africa:

    http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-12-03-the-aspiring-dictators-guide

    “Rule 3. Make America or China happy. Make Israel and Saudi Arabia very happy.” 😉

  38. Steve Says:

    @Wukailong~

    Ha Ha, good one! I think Rule #11 should be called the “Chen Shui-bian Rule”.

  39. GNZ Says:

    Re Chinese influence in africa being of the more assertive kind in the future a recent quote from the news
    Zhang said. “Before, China didn’t have an externally oriented economy, so the Chinese navy just needed to stay in Chinese waters. Now, the externally oriented economy has developed so well, the sea interests of China have expanded to other places, so the power of the Chinese navy should reach those places, too.”

  40. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve: 🙂

    Chen Shui-bian should have studied his Corruption 101 a bit more, it seems…

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