It seems that no Western power has succeeded in their colonisation in the past, and their influence in their previous colonised countries is limited now. However, Chinese people were extraordinarily successful in their colonisation in South East Asia when China was very poor and weak.
France made great efforts and spent a lot in order to turn its colonies in Africa into parts of France but failed. It had to allow them to split from France. The French colonies (the French communities there) in those countries mostly returned to France. That was the case with almost all Western powers’ abroad. They either returned to their countries of origin or like those in the US, South Africa and others remained there, but became separated from their countries of origin.
Chinese colonies in South East Asia are completely different. They and their posterity a few generations later remain Chinese. When there was a democratic revolution in China, they donated lots of funds to support it. When China was invaded by Japan, their donations were a major source of funds for Chinese government. When China turned red, lots of their youngsters turned red too and returned to China to study in Chinese colleges. I had quite a few schoolmates from Indonesia when I studied at Anhui University.
The most amazing was that when China began to open to the outside world, they vied with one another to invest in China. Their investment accounted for 70% of the foreign investment in the initial years of China’s reform and opening-up.
The investors were all successful businessmen. They certainly knew they had to make investment decisions based on business consideration instead of their patriotic enthusiasm.
One of my cousins made a fortune from nothing in Indonesia and then returned to China to do business after World War II. He told us that Chinese had the best business acumen in the world. He and lots of his friends became rich in South East Asia from nothing.
Like my cousin, those investors had business acumen. In addition, being familiar with Chinese history, they knew the historical cycles. After more than a century of poor government, good government will emerge. They made good bets and have made considerable returns. At that time, we staff in a top multinational law firm had to do lots of persuasion to urge US companies to invest in China. Our major argument was that they had to get a footing earlier than others in China due to the great potential of the vast Chinese market.
Now, many Chinese have become rich and want to find places for investment and expansion. Like the pioneers in South East Asia in the past, they are not afraid of the freezing weather in Siberia and North Korea or the heat in Southeast Asia. Many Chinese are doing successful business there. The Chinese government is supporting them. It has been making great efforts to have good relations with Russia and Central Asian countries through the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and with Southeast Asian countries through Asean.
Africa offers especially great opportunities, as few other countries are making real efforts in that continent.
SCMP says in its report “China expands its African ties,” “Dozens of African countries are represented at a Beijing forum, reflecting China’s growing role in the continent as investor and security player”.
According to SCMP, “The Forum for China-Africa Cooperation in Beijing will see China boost its influence in the continent, with President Hu Jintao to announce new measures to strengthen co-operation in areas such as investment, finance and security, the foreign ministry said.
“Two documents on strengthening co-operation will be signed tomorrow, when the forum concludes.”
“China’s total direct investment in the continent had reached US$15.3 billion by April, up from less than US$500 million a decade ago.
“China, in return, receives resources from the continent to meet its rising energy needs. China’s imports from Africa, including oil and iron ore, reached US$93.2 billion last year, up 38.9 per cent year on year.”
“Analysts said Beijing is stepping up its political and security influence in the African continent because China’s quest for resources has drawn the country into internal conflicts, with its oil installations and workers being targeted by armed groups.”
However, China does not seem to have a prospect to succeed in colonisation in Africa. The Chinese who have done business and worked in Africa are all of the opinion that Chinese people are not welcome in Africa.
As for Chinese goods, they are notorious for their poor quality. Due to the low purchasing power there, China export cheap products with very poor quality to Africa. It is the same with Chinese construction. Chinese contractors take projects at very low prices. In order to avoid losing money, they use substandard materials and become notorious for the quality of their construction.
There are in addition conflicts of culture between Chinese and African people. Having accepted European culture, African people are law abiding and pay great attention to hygiene while Chinese people still lack sense of rule of law and good hygiene.
Therefore, in my opinion, the Chinese government may have good relations with African countries, but Western people need not worry about China’s colonisation in Africa.
- China expands its African ties (SCMP)
- China not out to colonise Africa economically – Officials (vanguardngr.com)
- Loans to poor countries – China has strings attached (chinadailymail.com)