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The saintly British in Africa… Are you kidding me?

November 12, 2009

Wow. Just wow. A big jaw-dropper.

Many see China’s engagement in Africa as a catastrophe for the continent. There is a widespread perception that saintly Britain had adopted this poor little girl called Africa and was busy saving her from hunger, war, disease and poverty. Suddenly big, greedy China, flashing huge deals and cheap goods, has seduced the girl and is leading her astray, even raping her. And to make it worse for Britain, ungrateful Africa sometimes feels that although Chinese intentions may not be entirely honourable, China at least treats her like a grown up.

If this is not a indication of some British being extremely pathetic sour grapes and hopelessly shameless narcissists, I don’t know what is.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. November 14, 2009 3:10 pm

    “Sour grapes”?! “Shameless narcissists”?! Er, NO, Pffef, you don’t know what is!

    Really? Do you honestly not get the humour in that editorial at all? Are you so keen to see China-bashing “hypocrisy” in everything you read that you…. don’t actually read things?

    This article is actually very balanced, and mostly very pro-China.

    The passage you quote is ironic – it is actually criticizing Britain’s record in Africa, not China’s!

    Come on. Did you completely miss this?? I thought your English was better than that.

  2. November 15, 2009 9:06 am

    Your snippet misrepresents the article somewhat.

    Besides, the big question is what Africa nations can really expect from its relationship with China. Thus far it appears to be as one sided as – dare I say – colonialism.

  3. November 15, 2009 10:44 am


    I provided the link to the whole article and anyone is free to read it and draw his/her own conclusions. Of course there are things that the British can show or even teach the Chinese about Africa, after all you have been there for centuries. But don’t be so obnoxious by telling yourself that you are the “saintly” people who only kept the interest of the people of Africa at heart while the Chinese are there having the worst of the worst intentions.

    Colonalism? Didn’t you say neo-colonalism before? Once again the striking difference between today and merely a few decades ago when the British were calling all the shots in most of Africa is that the Africans themselves have a say in this. If they believe they are not getting anything out of their relationship with China and the whole thing is an one-way street they are more than happy to end it or change it. China is not calling all the shots, unlike the British.

    Instead of you and I going back and forth arguing about China’s role in Africa, let’s hear what real Africans have to say. They are neither looking at China through rosy glasses that you typically find at the MOFA nor painting China as the neo-colonialist villain that the West is keen on portraying.

    Deciphering the Sino-Africa saga

    China juggles its future in Africa

  4. November 15, 2009 1:59 pm

    Hi Pffef, are you “harmonising” me??

    I left you a bunch of comments yesterday to welcome you to blogland, but only one of them appeared.

    Could you check your Spam folder? I often fall foul of spam filters – I think, because I have to use proxies to get around the GFW.

  5. November 15, 2009 8:28 pm

    “Didn’t you say neo-colonalism before?”

    I absolutely did – and I stand by that until further notice.

    “China is not calling all the shots…”

    That’s not clear from the South Africa’s recent kowtow over a planned DL visit, or from the presence of Chinese troops on the streets of Harare last year. Nor is it evident from the Chinese insistence on using their own imported labour to the exclusion of the local workforce.

    We all know Africa has had a raw deal historically, but we’re talking about the here and now. China is already regarded with suspicion by African peoples (as opposed to the corrupt warlords and dictators who love them, of course). It’s really not good enough to adopt a purely pragmatic approach that ignores moral principles.

    Anyway, isn’t it great that you, me, and Froog have a new place to hang out?

  6. November 16, 2009 2:39 am


    What’s it about you that the Spam filter doesn’t like? I see that you were having problem on Stuart’s blog too. Lucky you! Anyway I have approved all your comments, no worries.


    I totally agree that Chinese firms operating in Africa should do a better job adhering to local laws and hiring more locals. However, I continue to disagree with you that any outsider (China in this case), is in any position to make the moral judgment on behalf of the local Africans. By refusing to do business with “rogue states” defined by the West, how do we empower the people of those countries? How are we doing them a favor? Furthermore, as the case of the DPRK has shown, imposing sanctions doesn’t work. The average joes will end up taking the brunt of it.

    I have said it on your blog and I will say it again: Let the Africans themselves decide what’s best for them. If they want to get rid of the likes of Robert Mugabe, go ahead. If they believe their government is kowtowing to China at the expense of local interests, they shall then topple the government by any means. No outsiders (China included) should tell them what they should do.

  7. November 16, 2009 7:41 am

    “Let the Africans themselves decide what’s best for them.”

    They know what’s best for them, but they can’t achieve it while looking down the barrel of a gun.

    “If they want to get rid of the likes of Robert Mugabe, go ahead.”

    Do you really think the majority support this murderous despot? If the regime receives financial and military support it becomes almost impossible to dislodge them. Same story in Burma, where China aren’t the only offenders in propping up an illegitimate regime.

  8. November 16, 2009 8:56 am

    “They know what’s best for them, but they can’t achieve it while looking down the barrel of a gun.”

    Too bad. Your fate is up to you and nobody else. If we allow outsiders to do your biddings for you, anything can happen. A pro-western or a pro-Chinese “democracy”? Are you sure this is what you want? The last thing you want is to have some outsider decide what’s best for you and do/push things that they think are good for you. Provided that their intentions are completely selfless (which is impossible), if they are right, good for you; if they are wrong, you are screwed. Then what? They can get up and leave, you can’t.

  9. Juchechosunmanse permalink*
    November 23, 2009 1:55 am

    This article brings nothing new, it just reinforced what we have already known: that there are two diverging opinions of China’s role in Africa. China certainly needs to do better.

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