Is China moving towards 'colonising' African countries?

HARARE - Passing through the National Sports Stadium in Harare, one easily notices the towering new hotel building emboldened by Chinese architectural designs.

Commonly referred to as the Chinese Oriental style buildings, their architectural designs are dominated by dragon images, a true reflection of the famous imperial palace in China, known as the Forbidden City.

While the architectural designs are a unique and common feature in China, Korea and Japan, they have now been duplicated in Zimbabwe.

According to a Chinese tradition, a dragon is a mythological symbol that stands for happiness, immortality, procreation, fertility and activity. Dragons are also believed to ward off evil spirits.

The new multi-million- dollar 300 room hotel, along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway is just but one of many other Chinese developmental projects that are currently underway in Zimbabwe.

The involvement of Anjin Investments (Pvt) Limited, a Chinese firm in the mining of diamonds in Zimbabwe’s Chiadzwa diamond fields has been accepted with some reservations.

The assistance being offered by China has not been acknowledged in many circles.

Debate has been raging among the people who feel China is benefitting more from the friendship, with some fearing the Asian giant might be slowly moving towards “colonising” African countries, including Zimbabwe.

The Chinese have been linked with worker exploitation and controversial mining grants. They have also been associated with harassment of workers. Complaints of abuse have been reported by employees against the Chinese who have somehow proved “untouchable”.

China, which has maintained a 30-year growth rate, is penetrating the world faster than any other country, with great investment interests in Africa.

Cumulative Chinese direct investment in Africa has exceeded $15 billion, with projects covering 50 countries including Zimbabwe, surpassing the power house United States of America.

Their presence has been felt in the diamond mining and construction industry, where they have heavily invested.

From Europe to Africa, most governments cannot do without the Chinese and with such economic giants as the United States struggling, some analysts say it is a matter of time before the world’s biggest machinery, and transport equipment exporter takes over as the world’s biggest economy.

In 2011, China and Africa’s trade volume reached $166 billion — three times the 2006 figure.

China has also been to the aid of Europe, among other previously-resourced blocs, which are in deep economic turmoil.

With $3,2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, the Asian giant continues to bail out several countries and economic destinations.

China has courted African governments with high-profile infrastructure and construction projects that have seen several developments taking place, making it the continent’s largest trading partner.

However, their presence has been marred by political and economic controversy, but they maintain that their relationship with Africa is purely mutual. - Tendai Kamhungira

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