China has been successful in making inroads into Africa with reciprocal warm gestures from many African countries. China has remained Africa’s largest trading partner from 2008 onwards, while the US remained the second largest.
Even with the widespread accusations that China is a neo-colonial power in Africa – in the sense that its economic domination in Africa is increasing at the cost of some African economies and its cultural hegemony too is noticeable – the political, economic and diplomatic cooperation between African countries and China continue to increase.
Unfair Economic Domination
China wants to move away from its low-end products manufacturing trend to high-end products. China intends to build up the low-end industrialization capacities in other countries, helping Chinese companies in their attempts to “go global” as they set up factories in other countries, including those in Africa.
Many Africans are opposed to such relocation of Chinese industries into African countries as they fear that the attempts to set up Chinese businesses in Africa might do more harm than benefit to the African economies.
The criticisms go further in alleging that African markets are already harmed by low-cost Chinese-made products, which put immense competitive pressure on local industries and businesses. Some argue that China’s involvement in Africa benefits primarily the African elites and not the Africans in general.
Chinese Cultural Hegemony Negatively Impacting Cultures of African Nations
There are also widespread criticisms about the growing weight of Chinese culture in Africa. China has been increasing its cooperation and exchanges with Africa on the cultural front, particularly in the media industry.
Over the last decade, China extended its media presence across all major press and electronic media in Africa. The CCTV News Channel and China Daily have dedicated Africa editions.
Africa hosts a number of Chinese cultural centres and 46 Confucius Institutes, which focuses on the promotion of the Chinese language and culture.
Such increasing Chinese media presence in Africa and the Confucius Institutes in the continent have been serving China to establish its cultural hegemony in the continent, negatively impacting the cultures of individual African nations.
China’s increasing unfair economic domination on African economy, market and products as well as Chinese cultural hegemony – something that have the potential to undermine African identify, sovereignty and development in long-term – make China the neo-colonial power in Africa.
This article was originally published on Oped Column Syndication.