Speaking furthermore, I do find it highly concerning just how much of an echo chamber this place is in regards to this notion of "Chinese colonialism" and Chinese "debt - traps". Most African countries still owe far more to the IMF/World Bank than they due to China. Of the 54 African countries, only four are in severe debt to the Chinese (Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Zambia), and of those four countries China has gone the distance in terms of reviving moribund national rail systems and helping to set up industrial zones, which is in part why East Africa boasts the highest growth rates on the continent.
Africa is a vast continent with booming populations. They're also counties with deeply huge infrastructure needs. Ghana alone while one of the richer African countries is in desperate need of new roads, power plants (blackout issues), hospitals (we recently passed a universal healthcare law), and education(we recently launched universal free senior high school education). The funding to launch these countries into elevated statehood isn't going to come from the West. The city Of New York's pension fund isn't going to be investing likely in the KSE (Kenyan Stock Exchange).
So are there issues with Chinese engagement? Yes. Will some countries make a botch of it? Yes. But are other countries seizing the opportunity and using it to drive a higher standard of life? Yes. But in my opinion it is a far better arrangement than the European sponsored neocolonialism of the past. France in particular still operates a monetary zone that operates in 14 African countries in its former colonial obit, and we cannot forget the provocations against the Gaddafi regime earlier this decade which resulted in accelerating a migrant rush towards Western Europe. The Chinese stay out of African politics. and in historical terms have largely not interfered in the political processes of countries not in their "near abroad" to borrow a Russian political term.
Anyway those are my thoughts from someone who is African and has actually been to various countries in Africa.
When you buy a road, you get to transport things; when you buy a port, you get to do long distance trade. That happens even when no local job is created.
The benefit is there as long as the loans are for fairly priced infrastructure with real value. People (across the world) suspect this kind of loan because it is too often used for financing way too expensive infrastructure with no real value. The local population of a country has the challenge of allowing their politicians to do the first without allowing them to do the second, so if you trust your people and institutions to achieve that, there's absolutely no problem with the loans.
Here in Brazil people are starting to open up for the Chinese loans. It is happening at the same time as people are trusting a bit more the government to not be corrupt, but I don't think there is any causal relation.
I read the opposite. What is that based on?
EDIT: In response to the reply below, a search shows plenty of research out there on this topic. (Sorry, I don't have time to read it myself right now.)
It may be completely off due to sampling bias, but I don't think there is any source out there with better confidence, as I have never seen anybody doing a serious poll of the subject.
EDIT: Well, in reply to your edit, how did you search for that research? All I can see is trash news about some huge investment coming from China to Brazil in the future or how the next Brazilian president is a xenophobe that will reject money from anywhere. I still haven't seen any serious handle of the subject, by researchers or the press.
brazil attitudes toward china poll
At least for me, it doesn't show any poll about opinion on Chinese investment. Those are different things.
And honestly, you have every reason to tell me to fuck off and more besides. And I’m not Father Christmas, if you make a deal with me, I expect something in exchange.
But what can we do for people in Africa?
Africans don't need charity. The NGO industrial complex has failed to create modern states, it can deliver great help to badly affected communities but it can't leapstart growth. We all know the US won't invest tens of billions in African countries, but change your perception of Africa as some place to be helped, and countries that want investment, this explains why China has become such a big player on the continent.
I've been following the story of a Westerner (I believe he is American) that is taking a land trip through Africa. While there are areas of great, geniune people, many of his stories involve people, both government and private, in the countries trying to exploit him for money, gifts, etc...
He went into a rant in one of his posts that I think has been removed now, but the gist was that years of free handouts from the West is the reason for this behavior.
I don't know how to fix it, but this mentality and perception has to be fixed by the African people -- the West is not going to change on its own. The problem seems to ultimately have been created by the West, and should be fixed by the West, but the reality of the situation is that is not likely to happen. If Africa wants Western investment, it will need to address these stereotypes and perceptions, otherwise China will continue investing. They are not involved in African politics now, but wait 50 years and see if that is still the story. They have to establish their grip on the money first. Once they have solid control of the money, the control of the people will follow.
Your second is more complex, but the general principle of a rich visitor being shaken down is very, very old - after all, you clearly have the means to come visit, while the reverse is not generally the case.
Since this is a startup/hacker forum, what do you think about entrepreneurs moving there to not only start a business, while being ethically charitable and involved in the locally community (rather than just being a digital nomad). Would this be accepted culturally, or would I just be viewed as a rich foreigner trying to trick/scam the populace?
I've only visited the continent as a tourist, but am very interested in your perspective on cultural viewpoints. And followup question -- are certain African nations more open to outsiders than others?
In other African countries the racial context would prevent it (Southern African countries) or they're more protectionist(Anglophone West African states).
I could also see Uganda and Rwanda also being quite welcoming of such an effort as they're making big moves on trying to grow their tech sectors. The latter two are repressive dictatorships though politically. Economically and socially however the people are largely free. Kenya by comparison is a deeply messy and perhaps perpetually corrupt democracy.
America excels more traditionally on capacity("soft" work to do with say governance, healthcare, NGOs, and also committed through the IMF/World Bank).
Or convince America that there is a whole continent that could become a powerful ally to the US when it will economically boom.
America does realize this. It's why USAID, VOA, and other agencies spend billions of dollars each year for the last 60+ years building water systems, and swerage treatment plants, distributing medicine, teaching people better agriculture methods, stocking hospitals, supplying HIV/AIDS drugs to 80 million+ people, treating millions of people each year with malaria medicine, and a metric ass-ton of other things. All of this from tax dollars from the "America" the world thinks is full of hate.
Much of this money is spent in the very nations, especially in the Middle East, that have significant populations that chant "Death to America" every time a television camera is around, then when the news crews go away, return to eating food supplied by the U.S. government.
Here's a good place to start if you want to know more about the quiet, good work America does: https://www.usaid.gov/what-we-do
Are you meaning to imply that donating food should buy the U.S. some kind of credit allowance to conduct drone strikes that kill mainly civilians? In many cases, the food they're donating is needed in the first place because of actions the U.S. themselves participates in, see the genocide in Yemen for example.
Also, it's funny that you mention DTA chants, but forget that there are plenty of lawmakers in the U.S. spewing similar rhetoric. After the attack in Iran, the response in the U.S. was basically "they deserved it".
We're just in a bit of a 1968 moment after despairing over how difficult nation building is with Afghanistan and Iraq.
I'm sure we'll return to our regularly scheduled American exceptionalism circa-2040.
I don't think that the amount of debt and the amount of countries in debt is a correct measure of influence that the IMF/WB or China has in the region. The IMF offers highly concessional loans in relatively moderate amounts with many strings attached. These 'neo-liberal' strings , which include mandatory monetary reforms and privatization could indeed be considered 'colonial', and their effectiveness can be doubted (or even seen as destructive), but they do seem to have a semblance of responsible debt management in their intentions (but perhaps not in their outcome).
China on the other hand, itself being on the brink of a major debt crisis, is handing out seemingly no-strings-attached YOLO-money, especially to debt-vulnerable countries that previously had large parts of their IMF/WB debts forgiven . In some cases, especially in infrastructure projects, China requires the hiring of Chinese labor and further redirects money because there is a huge technology gap between local and Chinese companies.
These are no concessional loans, and China must know that (some of) these countries are inevitably going to default with major losses of land, infrastructure and natural resources as a consequence, to China's gain. It perhaps is too early to tell, but these measures seem far more 'colonial' to me in intent than the loan programs of the IMF/WB in the last 50 years.
The countries are free to leave the Franc CFA, some of them did and came back, having a stable currency you can trust on in the region is invaluable so they keep it on purpose. Especially that they can trade with their neighbours much more easily.
Furthermore, regardless of the relative merits and demerits of the monetary zone, it can't be denied that France has an overt influence on its former colonies. Most of West Africa is essentially a French backyard policywise as France's political economy is highly dependent on African natural resources(Oil from Gabon, Uranium from Niger, Maganese and phosphate from some of the smaller Franco West African states). France's behavior is quite strange especially when one can see how Britain, Spain, Portugal and Italy largely don't politically matter on the continent anymore.
Lastly, one just has to compare the state of Francophone African states towards most of the Anglo states, they are on by definition normally poorer and more fragile. The likes of Togo, Mali, Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, and Guinea are on the whole basketcases, and play a part in why West Africa, which is the region China has lended to the most is the poorest.
It continues because it's becoming an African euro-zone, having the same currency is invaluable. Especially that the African currencies don't have a reputation for stability. It's not a coincidence Mali & Guinea left and then came back in.
> Lastly, one just has to compare the state of Francophone African states towards most of the Anglo states, they are on by definition normally poorer and more fragile
I don't really agree with that, you have counter example in both cases, on my case I could point Cote d'Ivoire where the Bank of Africa is located and on the other Anglo side you have Uganda which isn't exactly an example of a rich country, the Franc CFA definitely helped for that.
And we definitely felt sorry for Ivory Coast when French special forces busted into their presidential palace to resolve a domestic electoral dispute. But hey CFA Franc, stability and all that, yeah!
You're referring to French forces arresting Laurent Gbagbo when he refused to cede power after losing the 2010 election?
Allowing his winning opponent to assume the presidency? Extraditing Gbagbo to stand trial at ICC in The Hague? Where there's a chance he might be acquitted of the crimes against humanity he's charged with for formenting election violence that killed 1,400+ people?
As far as terrible abuses of colonial power, enabling the transition to a democratically elected government and trying the former leader in a fair court of law (where he stands a chance of defending himself) isn't the best example.
Ivory Coast background - France enables a local despot, known as Felix Boigny, who does enable local economic growth but institutionalizes power to such an extent that the county falls into civil war and disrepair upon his death in the 1990s, leading to two civil wars in which France plays a major role.
Togo coup of 1963 in which France played a role - Togo remains a dictatorship for 53 years and now has a large and enraged protest movement. The regime has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of dissidents.
Cameroon's backing of Paul Biya - Despite his continued anti-democratic manners and blatant electoral rigging, France sticks by their man, leading to now a insurgent civil war in Anglophone Cameroon.
The Libyan intervention - What can be said that hasn't been said, a new failed state, arms flowing across the subregion which leads to trouble across the Sahel in Mali and Northern Nigeria.
And these are just a few examples.
But now, at this moment, policy going forward -- if not supporting democracy, democratically elected leaders, and the regular, peaceful transition of power, then what?
It's easy to cast stones, but useless without a better, prescriptive alternative.
Non-intervention on the world's part is why Gaddafi (42 years), Biya (43), Obiang (39), dos Santos (38), Mugabe (37), Museveni (33), etc. have been able (and are still able, in many cases) to rule their countries for decades.
Or, as Obama put it in his interview with Seinfeld in response to a question about how many world leaders are crazy, "A pretty sizable percentage [...] Part of what happens is, these guys, I think the longer they stay in office, the more likely that is to happen."
You seem to think this is still “colonial history”. It is very much still modern history.
That said, in comparison to post-WWII refuse-to-decolonize France? Objectively, modern France is far more ethical.
In regards to speed, as a political science professor once quiped to me, 'Countries don't change. The people with one set of ideas just get old and die.'
The Convertible franc was clearly an attempt from France to dilute the effects of its inflationary spending by spreading it over its former colonies.
Claiming these former colonies are "free" is perhaps a deep misunderstanding of what "free" means. Consider: https://www.pambazuka.org/governance/france-still-robbing-it...
Claiming something is demonstrably false, then saying 30 minutes is too much time to spend demonstrating alleged falsehoods, in a debate on a forum where you've already been engaged in other responses to the same debate over time...
I shared the article in good faith, as part of the debate. Am I then to assume the article (as well as others that suggest similar points) is false simply because you've said so?
"It could be claimed that the countries that operate with these currencies might freely leave the arrangement at any time. In truth, dozens of African leaders, from Silvanus Olympio in Togo to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, have tried in recent decades to replace these tools of monetary and financial control with a new common African currency. Almost all of them - with the possible exception of Malian President Modibo Keïta (1915-77) - have been killed or overthrown the very moment in which their attempts were close to succeeding." 
After visiting China and reading a lot about their society I have to say, I wish our governments cared even 50% about their citizens' security as China does.
And don't even start me on infrastructure and digitalisation.
I think market oriented media is really nothing about truth/fact/moral, its only job is to reflect what people want. here is the full list of what people want:
- when we do well, tell me it's all my own hard work.
- when we are in bad shape, it's someone else's fault.
For example, this term doesn't apply to Finland or China.
Funny that the China bashing articles started to appear more frequently at the same time the US government switched aim from Russia to China too.
That initiative has only became more newsworthy and pressing as the world's largest economy has turned inward.
I don't care enough about it to investigate the numbers of articles on HN with China in title so is all something I noticed and I am not from US (so I have no horse in the trade war)
Massive resources are spent manipulating media including social media. And the biggest spenders are the established political parties and governments of the west.
Maybe what you are seeing is just randomness and confirmation bias but as the saying goes just because you are paranoid it does not mean that you are not being followed.
Western media should not be trusted to report accurately about foreign non-western countries. They almost never do.
Are they western media or just yellow clickbait? Is everything in english western media?
No doubt this comment will earn me an accusation of being a Chinese gov't shill as well.
China was the richest country in the world, and through drugs and war even it fell to the British.
Now that the world is slowly returning to a state that makes more sense-- with the bigger countries with lots of human and natural resources climbing back on top, the West needs to cling on to something. The narrative that "China is worse" sounds to me like "China is worse, thus it's better for everyone if we keep the world order as it is".
I think everyone knows this won't be the case. Population alone, China has more people than the US and Europe combined-- that's not only more productive potential, but as purchasing power increases, a bigger market for companies to operate in. Factor in a much slower, but potentially similar story for India, and I think there's not much the West in general can do but accept the world can't all depend on a single bank and monetary fund ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Seriously? Even if one believes in this Chinese colonialism thing, there's no way in hell partial economic control is worse than genocides and slavery that accompanied European colonialism in the past.
me: How can it be worse?
Neither gp nor me mentioned anything being "okay", or blamed any party for completely irrelevant crimes (lynching or whatever). Might need to brush up on reading comprehension.
I recommend that you read facts about what they do before reading random opinions online (from brand new accounts, especially).
Also, I know dang warns us about pointing out potential propaganda, but this seems like this post is a good example of what I’m talking about.
Nor is it a problem if people are inspired to create an account to comment. As long as they follow the rules, that's how HN is supposed to work.
I'm sure Joe Stiglitz, a Nobel prize winner in Economics, would disagree. In fact, he clearly articulated why in his book: Globalization and Its Discontents.
"[It] is a book published in 2002 by the 2001 Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz. The book draws on Stiglitz's personal experience as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Bill Clinton from 1993 and chief economist at the World Bank from 1997."
Another book to read is "Confessions of an Economic Hitman". Both describe essentially what both the USA and China appear to be doing - increasing global power and influence using subtler means than gunboat diplomacy.
All I’m asking is that people read facts about the World Bank and make their own opinions.
What has changed the equation for the continent started in the 2000s, the commodities boom along with telecommunications improvement, along with the entrant of new players such as China, India, Turkey, and until recently Brazil(in the Lusophone states).
So if we choose to look at those historical datapoints, without even getting into abuses at the IMF/World bank, we can effectively agree that the Bretton Woods sisters have done very little to move the needle on African prosperity.
Can anyone blame Africans for ignoring the World Bank and IMF when the countries that did ignore its orthodoxy, from China in the late 1970s to then India in the early 1990s, prospered?
> the countries that did ignore its orthodoxy, from China in the late 1970s to then India in the early 1990s, prospered
China and India did not at all ignore the 'orthodoxy', but enacted it and that is credited with their economic expansion. China and India adopted capitalism, opened their markets, and adopted economic fundamentals such as stable monetary policy.
African states on the other hand, about 40 states in the 1980s underwent what we would call Structural Adjustment programs. State owned enterprises were sold, huge slashing cuts were made to education and healthcare(This in part decimated Nigeria's regional class university system), and various legal reforms for the benefit of Western investors. The results of those experiments were generally failed and led to a disastrous late 1980s and 1990s on the continent.
In terms of a country that implemented many of those reforms and failed to get that far. I would say both Ghana and Tanzania are pertinent examples. Ghana has implemented about three to four rounds of IMF engagement since the 1980s and is hailed regionally for its rule of law and stable political and investment climate, it still only has a GDP per capita of $1,641. Then you have Tanzania which since the 1980s has largely abandoned state socialism and embraced a mixed market economy, its GDP per capita? a whopping $936.
I could make the same argument against this website:
If you'd please review https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow the rules when posting here, we'd appreciate it.
I intended to add a word of caution to the original comment, while completely acknowledging that I may be totally wrong. New account, redirection of the topic while not addressing the specific points of criticism, in conflict with other investigative journalist reports. Here's why I put on a tin foil hat: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/05/1...
FWIW, I'm appreciative of quite a number of 'bold' policies of the Chinese government dared to experiment with and implement. It's just that undisclosed affiliations bother me.
Offtopic: You joined yesterday and have gained 160+ points already with only 7 comments. That is very impressive!
Furthermore it backfired on the EU as Gaddafi was instrumental towards regulating migratory flows, even during the protests and the civil war.
But Boko Haram started its big rise already ca.1-2 years before the protests in Libya even begun, therefore the Libya situation did not directly create the rise of Boko Haram.
Also, it is not clear if things would have fizzled out without an intervention. The Syria war happened in parallel, and whoever was left to rule Libya (in whole or in parts) would have had to face the Battar Brigade, and then eventually the ISIL in Libya. Given that those actors obviously received clandestine backing (money, equipment, training) from "somewhere", thus greatly increasing their strength against any more organic movement(s), and given highly possible political reluctance to arm/support the opposite side, it is conceivable that the entire Libya could have eventually become an ISIL stronghold.
The whole Arab Spring was strategically bad news for the EU, including France. They had nothing to gain from orchestrating such a thing. But without any intervention (read: attempts to control) the Libya situation could have turned into something much worse, given that the likes of AQIM existed already in the neighbourhood before the Libya protests started, and this can explain the eagerness to try to clean up the mess as quickly as possible.
They're doing the same thing in Syria, so why the surprise?
(also somewhat contrary to my preferred Euro-friendly narrative)
I just thought, like I wrote, that the mass of karma per time unit was (for lack of a better word, in all friendliness) impressive.
The posts are certainly informative. However, some details are not factual. To claim that the "provocations of the French" somehow made the migrant influx to Europe happen is wrong, the influx was due to the Libyan civil war collapsing the Gaddafi regime. The French did not start the Libyan protests and neither the civil war. Of course, one could argue that the French and NATO method of weakening Gaddafi's troops did not play out so well in the end, since it did not succeed in creating a stable new government, but this was mainly due to the effects of the Syrian war spilling out to Libya.
Also, claiming that the rise of Boko Haram was due to the Libyan civil war (and by some, perhaps imagined extensions, the French "provocations") is wrong, Boko Haram were already on the rise before the protests in Libya even started.
As for the Chinese building infrastructure left and right: the roads and rails can transport people or resources. I think it is mainly to do the latter towards harbors and mainland China, but supports the former as well. Is it good for the African nations? Certainly, more infrastructure that works will be a boost to the economies of the continent. However, to be a realist: building roads, rails, harbors, airports and such is not done as a gesture of goodwill or some kind of a gift or a form of help. Thinking so is very naïve. There is always some catch, with everything. Some catches are win-win, some are not. Time will tell what this will be.