Behind China’s Waltz with African Dictators: Why does China Invest in Oppressive Regimes?

Traditionally, aid and trade with Africa has been subject to various conditions set by the providers. The West has been the main proponent of this idea, advancing the idea that aid and trade cannot come with no strings attached. Africa has called out the West for trying to use aid and trade for purposes of advancing its own political aspirations in Africa. As if deliberately taking advantage of the weakness of the relationship of the West with Africa, China had of late come in with ideas that are in direct opposition to the West’s. Where Western capital attempted to use its financial clout to influence the political future of African countries, China is silent and turns a blind eye. It turns a blind eye even where tyrants rule and oppress their own citizens. Beijing’s one true motivation seems to be getting commodities at the best possible prices and getting a market for its own products. This has been the fuel for the commodity boom which has now been affected by the slowdown in Chinese growth.

All about the money?

A New York University study says trade between Africa and China rose from $10 billion in 2000 to $166 billion in 2011 which translates to a sixteen fold increase. The Aid budget also rose from $1.7 billion in 2001 to a solid $189 billion in 2011. The trade and aid have not been selectively given to the so called “democracies” in Africa; everyone, even the dictators have a fair share. It has been said that, “China is easier to do business with because it doesn’t care about human rights in Africa – just as it doesn’t care about them in its own country. All the Chinese care about is money.”