Daniel Halliday
Nov 15 · Last update 2 mo. ago.
Is Chinese investment in Africa an example of neocolonialism or development friendly investment?
China is investing heavily in many countries around the world, much of which are under developed economically or politically unstable. This is most notable in Africa, where in the last ten years China has overtaken the US in trade as part of China’s One Belt, One Road policy. While China claims to be partaking in mutually beneficial investment, many have criticised the One Belt, One Road initiative as an example of neocolonialism.
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China is trying to go further than colonialism
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China’s unsustainable investment plan
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Colonialism by the back door
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China is breaking the old neocolonial mould of investment in Africa and investing in service industries
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China is trying to go further than colonialism

Chinese aggressive economic policy goes further than any colonial economic policy, and amounts to planned economic domination of the entire global economy. The Belt and Road Initiative is evidence of this, an infrastructure network that would span multiple continents to cover around 60% of the world’s population. It is clear from this that China is attempting to become the leading world superpower. But these investments are a form of debt and not enriching the countries they are aimed at but boosting world trade with China, and may be part of a more sinister plan of domination, leading many including the United States and Australia to be vocally critical of China’s actions.

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China’s unsustainable investment plan

China is often blamed for neocolonial policies; however on closer inspection they seem to be exercising an unsustainable investment program that will eventually collapse. China's expansive economic policy is mainly amounting to ill thought out or failing investments, made with huge amounts of debt, which are likely to be extremely difficult to pay back and will generate spiralling toxic debt for the country. The amount of bureaucracy on the Chinese side makes many of the investments uneconomical and a ripe environment for corruption, something that is already an issue throughout the African continent. This has lead to fears of China’s economy going into decline in a similar fashion to Japan’s.

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Colonialism by the back door

On the surface it may seem that China is investing heavily in African infrastructure and modernisation as a gesture of good will, a future investment or for positive international relations. However, resources are still leaving the continent, even if diplomacy has replaced brute force; minerals and oil are growing exports in a similar fashion to colonial periods. But when considering the more than $124 billion debt that China has loaned to African nations since the year 2000, the picture becomes one of China just trying to conquer the continent financially rather than militarily.

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China is breaking the old neocolonial mould of investment in Africa and investing in service industries

Chinese invest in Africa may at first seem like colonial investment, with Africa's long past of companies investing to facilitate the exploitation and export of natural resources, but if you look closer at China’s investments they are also somewhat different. In the last decade China is slowly turning Rwanda into a kind of service and logistics industry centre for China and African continental trade, aiding Rwanda in becoming one of the fast growing economies in the world. While some Chinese companies may be involved in typical resource centred industries in Africa that may be criticised as exploitative, their additional investment in service and infrastructure will undoubtedly go further than any other countries in providing a brighter future for Rwandan and pan-African economies alike.

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