BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Friday, 4 March, 2005, 13:55 GMT
Should Africa embrace China?
Chinese men transporting South African beer
South African beer is now brewed in China
This week, BBC's Africa Live goes east - to examine the relationship between Africa and China, one of the world's fastest growing economies.

Economic and political links between China and Africa go back a long way, but the ties have deepened over the past five years.

In Timbuktu, Durban or Nairobi, in almost every African market, you can buy something Chinese - cloth, rice, radios and cooking pots.

Africa's football fans watch their teams play in stadiums built by the Chinese; while Tanzanian and Zambian traders travel between the two countries on a railway laid down by Chinese workers. In Liberia, the peace is kept partly by Chinese soldiers.

Africa Live is asking: What's your experience: Do you prefer to buy Chinese? Can Africa learn lessons from China's rapid economic development?

Will economic ties with China be the springboard for an African renaissance? Or is China the new imperialist power on the continent?

Join the BBC Africa Live debate on Wednesday 09 March at 1630 & 1830GMT.

Use the form to send us your comments - and your personal stories - some of which will be published below.

If you would like to take part in the discussion, e-mail us with your telephone number, which will not be published.

Here is a selection of your comments:

It's interesting how Europe and the Americas start fidgeting when someone takes a sizeable chunk of their market.
Ray Murray, London, UK
Yes, Africa has every right to look east. At least they are not imposing their civilisations and doctrines on us so that we may feast on the crumbs from their table. It's interesting how Europe and the Americas start fidgeting when someone takes a sizeable chunk of their market. The West has had too much of a monopoly and they are beginning to run scared.
Ray Murray, London, UK

China's human rights record and its one party rule should keep Africans away from it. As far as Africa's prosperity is concerned, I strongly believe we are better of developing our own "African way" to develop our continent economically. We can't afford to be fooled all the time. We were hurt so many times by allowing or trusting others, as we did from the time of slavery to the cold war era where we were divided and exploited by so called "developers."
Yosef Hailu, Detroit, USA

Africa is a continent and I think that it should be left to each country to choose whether it wants to accept business relations with China. I think that many African countries can learn a lot from China. If China is going to open up business quarters in African countries, many people will buy the products if they are good and cheap. I would definitely buy anything from any country if it was cheaper than the same product made in my country.
Madalo, Malawi

This sudden boom of Chinese goods has hampered our indigenous manufacturers.
Julia Mohammed, Jos, Nigeria
Africa should be very cautious in importing Chinese goods because they are of very low quality. This sudden boom of Chinese goods has hampered our indigenous manufacturers.
Julia Mohammed, Jos, Nigeria

Chinese products are plentiful in Uganda because they are cheap. However, they are synonymous with poor quality, especially the electrical goods. In the electrical shops, they ask you "China or England?". England is almost twice the price but always preferred where quality is the overriding consideration. China is a good friend of Uganda, though. They built a magnificent national stadium and so there are no complaints from that quarter!
Susan, Kampala, Uganda

Africans are dog-tired of the manipulations and double-standards of their colonial masters and the West as a whole. It is high time Africa goes for introspection and rethinks its strategies. China has been a reliable and trust-worthy friend. So China you are welcome.
Bai Burah, Sierra Leone

I think the right question to have posed is: "Should Africa learn from China." Africa should learn from and copy the tactics and clever approaches that China uses to further its ambitions. Any wholehearted or unquestioned embracing of China is bound to impoverish Africa. China has cleverly used other peoples innovations and enhances them and sells them on cheaply. China has a degree of protectionism: it will happily flood our market, but any attempt for Africa to reciprocate with African goods will not be welcomed. Africa should stop thinking that there are altruistic people out there who will come forward and develop our continent. We have to do it on our own and we can do it - by learning from China not embracing it. If virtually all of our infrastructure projects are awarded to Chinese companies, what opportunities are there to develop and nurture our homegrown talent?
Musa Bah, Gambian/UK

Africans don't want to be politically dominated by China.
Gbe Sneh, Liberia
While China's industrialisation blueprint is the envy of the developing world, a cautious embrace would be the right approach to Sino-Afro relationships. Africans don't want to be politically dominated by China. African nations are best to steer clear of certain elements of Chinese governance. Africa cannot afford to import everything from China.
Gbe Sneh, Liberia

Africa should embrace China but strictly on business grounds. And only if we have learnt from our mistakes with the Europeans and the Americans so that nobody would feel cheated in the long run.
Issa Monnie, Accra, Ghana

I think there is a lot Africa can learn from China. I think our leaders should encourage real Chinese investments in Africa. Yes I can buy Chinese if it is good. And we need to work hard like Chinese. But we also need to be careful.
Ademola, Lagos, Nigeria

I think Africans should proceed with caution in embracing China as experience with colonisation has left Africa leaking a lot of wounds, which have not healed. China could contribute to African development based on mutual respect and benefits.
Pachi Masawi

Looking at Beijing's policy in Hong Kong and her human rights record, I believe Africa should be careful in her dealings with China. Assuming China will not be imperialist because it does not yet have an imperialist hold in Africa is wishful thinking. Africa has a great tendency to embrace new investors without treading carefully. Trading with China can bring us a lot if we just think before we commit. Importing cloth and African beer from China is for me an aberration but it is quite worthwhile to import radios until we can make our own. Africans are so used to having what they want immediately that they are not very patient with the neighbouring countries or states who need more time to produce the goods. Good luck to Africa in any case.
N. G., Lagos, Nigeria (Munich, Germany)

Most of these cheap garments would never make the grade in Western countries.
Mmabatho, Botswana
It is true that China's political relationship with Africa is getting better by the day. However much as I welcome the positive economic links I am worried, particularly with the trade relations. Chinese textiles are flooding the African market. Most of these cheap garments, whose workmanship is often poor, would never make the grade in Western countries and are simply killing local industries. Then again, there is undeniably a market for these cheap textiles because most of us cannot afford to spend much on clothing. If there was a way to avoid the dumping I would welcome it. As Africans we must try to work together to promote our own industries. First it was the "dead people's clothes" from the rich countries finding their way into our markets, now it's the dumping of cheap clothing and every other commodity from China. Where will it end?!
Mmabatho, Botswana

China is a country that has transformed herself from a laughing stock to a world leader. From all perspective Africa has a lot to learn from China. Economically, Chinese goods are cheaper and more appealing to the poor African consumer. Not only being a consumer, Africa has better opportunities to reap from the overheated Chinese economy by seeking to export not only raw materials but semi-manufactured and manufactured products as well. The Chinese population of 1.3 billion is a bigger market to Africa than the whole of Europe put together. Politically, China is far from being an imperialist as they have ventured further into making Africa more peaceful than the western counties who have at times been at the centre of political conflict and civil wars.
Tabe Tangie, Douala, Cameroon

China helped most of us fight colonialism and it has the potential largest market for tourism. It manufactures most good like cars and computers. Why should I buy an expensive computer from the west when i can get it for less in China, especially when anyway both will be outdated within two years .
Mhondoro, Harare, Zimbabwe

It is a joke to think that China won't be an imperialist.
Pacharo Kayira, Lilongwe, Malawi
Once again we are missing the point. It is a joke to think that China won't be an imperialist. Let me ask you, when did you last hear of free and democratic elections in China? One party has been ruling in China since 1949! I really wonder what sort of superpower China will be. For sure, worse than America.
Pacharo Kayira, Lilongwe, Malawi.

When we are talking about business, there are no differences between China or any western nation. All nations have one interest: the African market. Chinese products have two versions - a good quality one for western markets and a poor quality for Africa. The new face of imperialism is not controlling the land rather then market. China is doing this very well at this. Nothing wrong with it. This is international politics and business. Rather than complain, African nations should improve their education system as well as corruption in their own countries. Even in Mozambique, I can see how South Africa dominates business and acts as a mini African super power and the truth is - they are.
Ripon, Maputo, Mozambique

This relationship with China should be forged tentatively. China, for all its great achievements, has a penchant to be childish. In 2002 it banned a company from selling its cellphones in the mainland because in one of its phone options it mentioned Taiwan as a separate state.
Robert, Brisbane

Cameroonians conduct lots of business with the Chinese. China has built many primary schools in Cameroon and reinforced some sport infrastructure. But the Chinese also need well qualified Cameroonians to come and teach French and English to their people.
Rene Motto Narcisse, Limbe, Cameroon

I think China is exploiting Africa.
Sam, Canada
I came to Canada from Ethiopia a year ago. Here in Canada, there are also lots of Chinese goods on the market but the quality is completely different from the goods they export to Africa. In Ethiopia, every shop carries clothes and shoes that are made in China. Yet few of them last any length of time due to their poor quality. I have noticed the Chinese sell good quality commodities in Canada for almost the same prices they charge in Africa, so I think China is exploiting Africa. I don't think they care about long-term economic cooperation; they want to exploit us as fast as possible now.
Sam, Edmonton, Canada

Africa should receive China with open arms. Isn't it true that China is on its way to become a new business super power? America goes to China to build most of its consumer goods, then turns around and sells them to African countries at a much higher price. Why not get it from source? Africa-China could be a profitable union for both parties.
El Hadj Bah, Kamsar, Guinea

There is a spirit in me that trusts China more than Europe and America in any sort of economic dealings. The people from China that I have met are humble and honest. Any economic dealings with China will be more sincere and respectful. China is growing at a period when the world is attentive and watchful: when Africa's colonisers were in Africa, nobody was out there to report our plight but today it will be a different situation. China is not as greedy as Africa's former colonisers.
Amauchechukwu Nzekwe, Connecticut, USA

It is good to diversify; we live in the era of globalisation. However, most of the comments made here are too simplistic because the relations between China and Africa are not humanitarian but commercial. Thus, as Africa, we need to get our priorities right and know what Africa is getting from China in return for opening up ourmarkets.
Weru Macharia, Kenyan in UK

The African Union or NEPAD needs to initiate a collective bargaining agreement with China, the world's most populous nation.
Diabel, Brooklyn, USA

China, like every smart nation, knows how to take care of its interests first. This is what Africa has to learn; to take care of our own interests. Do you think China is ready to throw money at corrupt Africa without expecting anything in return? China has largely turned its back on the problems of Africa. Remember China is blocking United Nations attempts to sanction Sudan for the violence there. We should only embrace China if it is in our interests..
James Osei, Alabama, USA

China's relationship with Africa will not be imperialistic but one of economic realisation.
Hajir, Sweden
Of course African should build a strong relationship with China and the rest of the tiger economies in Asia. These are countries who have similar problems to Africa and who have found solutions to minimise them. Their relationship with Africa will not be imperialistic but one of economic realisation.
Hajir, Sweden

Chinese products have invaded the Zimbabwean market and I have to confess that most of them are of bad quality and I don't enjoy buying them. The economic ties with China won't change anything in Africa.
Kapinga, Harare, Zimbabwe

Africa should embrace China because of her glaring success. It is only the fool that doubts proof. There is no shame in learning from those who have gone ahead of you. But will China willingly teach Africa the secrets of her success.
Albert Osakue, Burkina Faso

China's development is one of the best success stories of our time, but let's not forget that it's an old country and has taken its time to get here today. That's an advantage for Africa as we can learn from China's mistakes and grow even faster. I particularly admire the Chinese for their pride in their culture and their drive for self sufficiency. These are lessons that Africans really need to learn. One thing bothers me though: China is already showing signs of 'super power syndrome' in protecting oil investments in Sudan over human life. In that sense, I think we should be wary. Things are still at a point where we can achieve a level of mutual respect and we really need to because otherwise we could end up swapping one form of domination for another.
Ngum Ngafor, Manchester, England

At whose expense is China exporting its goods to Africa?
Fikre Bizuneh, Ethiopia
The question one must ask is: 'At whose expense is China exporting its goods to Africa?' If this relationship hurts African owned businesses, then it needs to be revised. If the imported goods are complementary and hence improve consumption of locally produced goods, then I say we should make the relationship even stronger.
Fikre Bizuneh, Ethiopia

Africa should turn away from the West and focus on building a strong relationship with China. China is not and has never been an imperialist nation.
Ebrima Badjie, Ottawa, Canada

"China is not and has never been an imperialist nation" - are you kidding? Tell that to Tibet. Indeed, tell it to any one of of the countries/ethnic groups that have been forcibly absorbed into the 'empire' that is modern China.
Michael, London, UK

It's a good start that China has never enslaved or colonised any Africans.
Kustaa Punkari, Finland

I buy Chinese products because there is no 'Made in Africa'. African markets are flooded with Chinese products and, as such, we are stuck with them. No economy will grow without a ready market and so Africa will always be a dumping ground for industrialised countries. But China could be a role model for Africa, if only African countries are willing to learn. Forging ties with China could be a stepping stone for Africa to improve economically and lift its citizens out of poverty.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA.

Africa should not embrace China just like that. It should rather build a mutual relationship in the fields of science and technology, trade and commerce, and finally politics. China is one of the fastest growing economies in the world; its 1.3 billion people would be a good market for African products.
Dr. Ibrahim Dagane Ali, Manila, Philippines

I live in Miami, Florida where we have a strong Chinese presence. Stores sell Chinese products from ceramics to plastic cups for just 99 cents. Without a doubt, China will be a power in the 21st Century. Whether that is a good thing or not, only time can tell.
Roberto, Miami, Florida

The Chinese have delivered effectively when awarded contracts.
Fidelis Mbah, Abuja, Nigeria
China has proved that she cannot be ignored by any developing country. Her good public relations and expertise have endeared her to African nations, especially my country Nigeria. The Chinese have delivered effectively when awarded contracts. Their projects are amongst the best-handled and no right-thinking business person will ignore a good company for an inferior one. I warmly embrace their foray into Africa -- unless they change overnight for the worst.
Fidelis Mbah, Abuja, Nigeria

Africa should embrace China. China has a lot to teach Africa, because it has adroitely used its resources and leadership to establish itself in the world. A few years ago China was the subject of ridicule. Today it is a country that is on the brink of self sufficiency to the extent that it now holds several billions of dollars of US government bonds. It recently became the number one consumer of world resources, eclipsing the US. China is on the rise.; momentum is on her side and it would be a mistake not to embrace it.
Adolf Bruce, Painted Post, NY, USA

I would first of all like to commend China for its exquisite work and endless efforts to return peace to my country Liberia, and also for helping other African countries improve their economy. China is a true friend and always wants to go the extra mile for the poor because she was once in the same situation. She is not the type of country that will take advantage of developing countries. Instead, she comes in with the intention of helping the host countries.
Marck K. Davies, Alexandria, Virginia

China has always been Africa's best economic partner and will continue to be for many years to come. However, when will Chinese citizens buy African goods? Our African governments are still blind when it comes to implementing proper economic policies that will allow Africans to learn from China's growing economy. Our small and medium businesses are making themselves dependent on the Chinese economy. The catastrophe will happen when China will start controlling Africa financially as the Europeans and Americans are doing now. Should this happens, Africa will be dead and buried financially.
Jean-Paul Muana, Congolese in UK

I don't think China will be the new imperialist power like many western countries because China has learned a lot from mistakes made by the old imperialist powers who came to Africa. Africa can learn from China about how to develop a self-sufficient society. We can also learn how to make the transition from socialist or dictatorial rule to a more democratic society without risking the country sliding into civil war.
Guled, Mogadisho, Somalia

Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific