By BBC World Service International Publicity
Published May 26, 2012
China’s role in Africa was the subject of the May 25, 2012 edition of BBC Africa Debate from Lusaka in Zambia.
Presented by BBC Africa’s Akwasi Sarpong and editor of bbcchinese.com, Yuwen Wu, China in Africa: Partner or Plunderer? explored the pros and cons of Chinas active involvement in African development. BBC Swahili recorded and aired the debate on the same subject, presented by Odeo Sirari and Dinah Gahamanyi.
In 2006 China unveiled its policy on Africa and launched the massive China-Africa Development Fund aimed at promoting Chinese investment in Africa. Over the past three years, China has given more loans to developing countries, mainly in Africa, than the World Bank. During the past decade, trade between China and the continent has increased more than six-fold to $120bn in 2011, making Africa China’s largest trade partner. Today, China is investing huge sums in African infrastructure.
While China’s activity in Africa has been applauded by several African leaders, not everyone is happy with this ‘partnership’ – particularly in the West. In some cases, China is accused of aiding dictatorial regimes in Africa for its own interests and in the process harming the continent’s quest for democracy and human rights.
China argues that all this is in line with its policy of “non-interference”, emphasising peaceful development, strategic partnerships and win-win solutions as alternatives to Western economic and political hegemony.
So is China a genuine partner or just a consumer – or as some say, plunderer – of Africa’s resources? Who is benefiting from China’s growth in Africa?
This edition of BBC Africa Debate was recorded at Government Complex in Lusaka a building which was commissioned more than 20 years ago by the government of Zambia. Completed recently by the Chinese government, the complex is described as one of the major Chinese government infrastructure projects in Zambia.
BBC Africa Debate senior producer, Rachael Akidi, had ahead of the debate observed, China has a well-designed strategy for dealing with African countries, and is clear and open about its objectives in the continent. But what about African countries, what is their agenda in embracing China? In Lusaka, we’ll be asking what is driving Africa’s growing interest in China, and if African countries have clear strategies – or if they are just being courted by the emerging superpower’s largesse dictated by its ambitions and strategy. Is China an opportunity for African countries to finally unlock their economic potential – or can it in fact hamper Africa’s development?”
Presenters Akwasi Sarpong and Yuwen Wu addressed these questions in front of an audience of about 100 invited guests including Zambian politicians, civil society activists, trade unionists, religious leaders, academics, students, leading journalists as well as Zambian and Chinese business executives.As expected, this was a highly interactive and heated but quite informative programme to the estimated 225 million listeners of the BBC World Service around the world.The programme is set to be repeated on Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 13.00 GMT.
Each edition of BBC Africa Debate is broadcast from a different location in Africa.
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