China’s ambassador to South Africa, Lin Songtian, helmed a characteristically shoot-from-the-hip session at a recent conference on China’s impact on African industrialization at the University of Johannesburg. Lin accused Western countries of misrepresenting Chinese financing to the continent as a trap, continuing: “Sometimes some people don’t like to encourage China to do more things in Africa because they don’t want to see the continent rise. They fear that if Africa is economically independent, political independence will follow.”
This is a serious accusation – that the global north is deliberately stunting Africa’s growth to keep it in a form of geopolitical vassalage. It’s a claim that will draw annoyed dismissals from Western diplomats, pointing to initiatives like the German government’s Compact with Africa, aimed at making African economies more business-friendly (and therefore more politically independent? Time will tell.)
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