china-africa

According to Reuters, China’s investment in Africa continues unabated:

China Marches on in Africa Despite Downturn

Chinese investment in Africa is continuing full-speed ahead, Reuters reports:

Beijing and Chinese companies have pledged tens of billions of dollars to Africa in loans and investments mostly to secure raw materials for the world’s fastest-growing large economy.

That long-term interest remains intact, despite a worldwide economic slump that has hit China’s exports to the rich world and a sharp decline in Africa’s mineral shipments to China.

China-Africa trade has surged by an average 30 percent a year this decade, soaring to nearly $107 billion in 2008.

You can read the full article here.

But an article from the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief presents a very different picture:

Commodity Flux and China’s Africa Strategy

During the commodity price boom, China invested massively in Africa seeking to lock up as many raw materials as possible. Some in academia spoke confidently of China having a fifty or one hundred year strategy toward Africa. In practice, Chinese entrepreneurs have been the first to leave when the market turned since the global decline in commodity prices accelerated with the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008. For instance, according to interviews the authors conducted in Congo, more than 60 Chinese mining companies have left the mineral rich Katanga the last two months, as cobalt and copper prices have tanked. Over 100 small Chinese operators are reported to have left Zambian mines for the same reason.

A similar retreat may be occurring at the strategic level. In 2007, it was announced that China would lend the Congo $5 billion to modernize its infrastructure and mining sector. Under a draft accord, Beijing earmarked the funds for major road and rail construction projects and for rehabilitation of Congo’s mining sector, while the repayment terms proposed included mining concessions and toll revenue deals to be given to Chinese companies. In simple terms it meant 13 million tons of copper for $5 billion—or (even at today’s depressed prices) $40 billion for twenty-times less [1]. The China-Congo deal, however, has gone very quiet as the copper price has plummeted. The market—not grand strategy—is the main Chinese motivation in Africa.

There is much more in the article, you can see more at the China Brief.

China is still buying up large quantities of land in Africa and in other developing countries around the globe. From The Geopolitics of China:

China is more enclosed than any other great power. The size of its population coupled with its secure frontiers and relative abundance of resources, allows it to develop with minimal intercourse with the rest of the world, if it chooses. …
The weakness of insularity for China is poverty. Given the ratio of arable land to population, a self-enclosed China is a poor China. Its population is so poor that economic development driven by domestic demand, no matter how limited it might be, is impossible.

That is why China seeks trade, markets, raw materials, and agricultural land.

To see where, in which countries, China is grabbing up land, GRAIN has posted a table with over 100 cases of land grabbing for offshore food production as presented in this report. It is available in a separate PDF file:
http://www.grain.org/briefings_files/landgrab-2008-en-annex .pdf
You can scroll through the PDF table and see the entries for China, and for many other countries that are making landgrabs in Africa and around the developing world.