Lately the phrase “Chinese Invasion” has become common in any trade or business talk on our streets. With recent AFAG claims, that Huawei, a Chinese company is providing party paraphernalia for the NDC, thus flouting the Political Parties Act, Act 574 of Ghana – the question is: Is China overstepping its bounds? Or are the Chinese wrongfully cashing in on our politics?
Headlines such as “China cannot avoid the messiness of African politics”, “China and Africa: A Love Story?”, “China: South Africa‘s latest role model?”, and “Zuma warns on Africa’s ties to China”, are common headlines in daily newspapers on the continent. With these headlines in mind, I wonder if China’s growing role in Africa is a myth or a fact?
Deputy Zimbabwean Prime Minister, Dr. Arthur Oliver Mutambara thinks there is nothing such as “Chinese invasion”. According to him the term is an American propaganda.
“The Americans have been out-competed by the Chinese – they are getting gunned by the Chinese, their economy is in trouble, China is moving …don’t fight China on behalf of America. There is no Chinese invasion” Dr. Arthur Oliver Mutambara added.
He emphasized that China backed Ghana and Zimbabwe during the struggle for independence.
China’s rising low cost manufacturing exports has contributed to lower manufacturing prices on the African market.
Unfortunately customized T-shirts producing companies have also been caught up in this competitive fight this election season.
A visit to some printing houses around the capital revealed, in 2008, 70% of party paraphernalia were printed in Ghana. Four years down the line, this has dropped to barely 50%.
Jacqueline Annan-Afful, at Appointed Time Screen Printing told me “the printing business is only busy during political seasons but not up to 50% because most of the political party paraphernalia now come from China. People feel China is cheap”.
She explains that “presently if you take a quote from China, a T-shirt is $2.20, while in Ghana, both the T-shirt and the printing goes for GHc3, making Ghana’s pricing cheaper”. She reckoned, that “China is cashing in on our political season as well as all other jobs” she said.
Despite all these, China has also emerged as a major source of foreign aid to Africa. China’s investments in Africa has peaked, reaching $5.5 billion in 2008.
Does the gift of the AU headquarters mean Africa’s bargaining power has been undermined?
Dr. Arthur Oliver Mutambara does not think so. He advised: “What we need to do is to embrace Chinese investment …we must work on our own terms. Technology transfer, skill transfer, employ Ghanaians …we must define the terms of preference to benefit ourselves. We need to negotiate better with the Chinese. We shouldn’t fight and describe them as invaders. We are not smart in terms of negotiations”.
Jacob Zuma, the South African president, has warned that the unbalanced nature of Africa’s growing trade ties with China is “unsustainable” in the long term.
The South African leader was speaking to the China-Africa Forum in Beijing just after China’s president pledged $20billion in loans to Africa, doubling the amount Beijing agreed to give Africa three years ago at the same forum.
Now has Africa any moral right to stop China from meddling in her affairs?
Dr. Mutambara is of the opinion, China is not meddling. He advised, “China is moving. We need to do well by ourselves, to fix our economies, be successful. Nations are not driven by altruism; nations are not driven by Charity. We have natural resources in Africa – we have oil in Ghana,” he said, adding, “Africa must come to the table not for charity, but for economics. We must work together. He stressed “Ghana must not be cutting deals with Europe on her own”
At the end of the day, Africans must learn to manage the new relationship with China rather than seeing it as an “invasion”
From: Ghana| Joy News Television| Seyram Abla De-Souza