November 13, 2006

African Wage Slavery

Last week's summit in Beijing of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation concluded with nearly USA $2 billion worth of contracted investment by Chinese companies in Africa.

For Cape Verde, cement and ceramics factories will be built and in Sierra Leone an industrial park will focus on light industry and export products. These are just a few examples of the spread of Chinese capital into Africa.

What little world press attention was paid to the summit absurdly cast the Chinese as new "colonizers" of Africa and plunderers of African resources. As though it was only OK for the USA or Europe to exploit African resources. Nigeria is after all the USA's fifth largest supplier of crude oil.

Chinese investment in Africa goes back decades. In 1961, an internal policy directive of China's army declared "the center of struggle between East and West is Africa." From that point on China has built railways on the continent, assembly halls for newly independent African governments, mines, roads, and other projects.

China has acted as mentor to many african countries and helped them to develop their economies so that they are not limited to exploiting natural resources. The renewed interest of the Chinese in africa may just be the beginning of China's own outsource movement, relocating low value labor intensive industries to Africa where labor is even cheaper than in China. On one level, this may be nothing more than bringing wage slavery to Africa's people but with factory jobs and wages the Chinese carefully cultivate new African consumers for all sorts of Chinese products from clothing to guns. And help Africa develop urban societies and cities.

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