Chinese in Africa: Economic Contributors or Destroyers?

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Last Monday, eight Chinese nationals were arrested at Kampani Zurak village in the Bashar chiefdom of Wase Local Government Area in Plateau State of Nigeria for alleged illegal mining. Twelve other Nigerians were also arrested on the same charges. allegedly involved in illegal mining activities in the area. Also declared wanted is the alleged chief miner, Abdullahi Usman, popularly known as “Dan China.”

The enormous presence of Chinese in Africa is no more a new subject of discussion, rather the latest debate is the impact of their presence on the continent. Many have praised the Chinese government for investing heavily in Africa – often without the human rights and other democratic principles conditions attached –   unlike the Western governments which often use those as a condition for investments or loans to African countries. Although some argue that while investing in Africa, the Chinese have succeeded in flooding Africa with their mostly fake and substandard products. Supporters of the Chinese presence in Africa insist, however, that although most Chines products are substandard, they are cheap and they, in fact, provide an alternative and possibility for poor Africans, who cannot afford expensive Western products.

However, the Chinese, the opponents argue, mainly import workers and raw materials directly from China rather than create much-needed jobs for the local Africans. Furthermore, they accuse the Chinese of just milking African countries and using African resources which they export back to China to develop their country. Worse still, with the numerous cases of alleged illegal and criminal activities, like fake foods and other products, money laundering, human trafficking, illegal fishing, which experts believe costs West Africa alone, more than $2 billion losses yearly, logging, poaching, and more seriously, alleged cannibalism, involving Chinese in Africa, some Africans have argued that the presence of Chinese in Africa has become more or less a huge burden ““ and indeed, serious danger – to Africa.

Definitely, since many African governments turned to China as their business and economic partner, a large number of  African countries have seen visible signs of infrastructural and economic developments. However, many have argued that the Chinese are, through their illegal activities, just destroying the continent. Worse still, some have warned that if the activities of Chinese in Africa are not checked or put under control, China will effectively colonize ““ and some would say, destroy – Africa in the years to come. The question is: Are Chinese in Africa more or less economic contributors or destroyers?