Thu, Sep 13, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan offers Africa real friendship

By Chen Chi-mai 陳其邁

Taipei played host to the first Taiwan-African Heads of State Summit and the Taiwan-Africa Progressive Partnership Forum this year, and will do so again next year. These two important conferences proposed by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) are not only an unprecedented undertaking in Taiwan's diplomatic relations with African countries, but also show that Taiwan has real friendship for Africa, and wants to share its democratic values and help it develop.

Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) keeps insisting that China's overseas development "will not pose any threat to anyone," and Beijing's Foreign Ministry sincerely pledged that "China will never follow the same disastrous road of the Western colonists who bloodily plundered and violated human rights."

However, China has supplied Sudan's dictatorial regime with weapons, and aided the genocide in Darfur for strategic benefits like oil.

In the UN Security Council, China has repeatedly blocked UN peace operations, arguing that it doesn't want to interfere in the internal affairs of another country.

Figures released by the UN High Council for Refugees show that more than 400,000 people had died and more than 3 million had fled their homes in Darfur by last year because UN forces could not come to their aid. China's role as an accomplice in the Darfur humanitarian crisis is now, in the countdown to the Olympics, the issue most often held against Beijing by human rights groups worldwide.

This is not the only time China has aided an African dictator. International sanctions offered an opportunity for the regime of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, to be ousted and replaced by the country's democrats, but China supplied Mugabe with economic aid and political support in a bid to gain access to his country's mineral resources.

Now Mugabe not only has enough money to reorganize his army, but he can continue his genocide even more wantonly, protected by China's veto in the Security Council.

At a time when international copper prices have soared to US$8,000 per tonne, China -- which controls most Zambian copper mines and has a monopoly on the sales -- not only does not pay Zambia according to international convention, but continues to exploit Zambian workers and maintain bad working conditions.

In August last year, several Zambian workers were shot while protesting against low wages. The incident was condemned by international labor groups. China's investments mean "sending raw materials out, bringing cheap manufactured goods in," Zambian Chamber of Commerce president Wilfred Collins Wonani said in an interview with the New York Times.

"This isn't progress. It is colonialism," Wonani said.

Such examples of China's colonialist behavior and of Beijing acting like a supreme ruler are seen in all corners of Africa, from Sudan in the north to Zimbabwe in the south, from Somalia in the west to Niger and Togo in the east.

At the end of last year, trade between China and Africa amounted to more than US$40 billion, and it is estimated that in 2010 it will be more than US$100 billion.

But this view of Africa as nothing more than China's overseas mining district or oil field is a classic example of economic colonialism, where the colonizing country takes out raw materials and sells cheap manufactured goods, depriving Africa of all opportunities for development and escaping poverty.

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