This book review gives some insight on China’s investment and deal-making with many African countries. Namely, why are the Chinese in Africa, and how is it different than the colonialism of European states?
For the first question–
The authors contend that China’s ambitions in Africa are grandly geopolitical as well as economic. As Jacob Wood, a Shanghai-born housing developer based in Africa for more than 30 years, tells them: “I’m going to be honest with you, China is using Africa to get where the United States is now, and surpass it.”
As for any possible differences between China’s presence and the European’s–
Many African leaders are enamored of the Chinese mix of authoritarianism and capitalism in business affairs, an emphasis on efficiency and a lack of preaching about human rights, the authors say. Moreover, when the Chinese talk, they back up their words with concrete actions.
“The Chinese build things, the Europeans don’t,” declares Claude Alphonse N’Silou, the minister of construction and housing of the Congo Republic.
Of course, most of China’s investment there is for natural resources–mining, oil, timber–and I suspect most of the infrastructure projects support harvest and transport of those resources. Bilateral trade between China and Africa reached 55 billion dollars in 2006.