HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsThe Chinese small friends with (of) little benefit . . .

The Chinese small friends with (of) little benefit . . .

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The Chinese friendship and relationship with Zimbabwe is unfortunately tethered and seen through the old prism of stale ideological ties in a common struggle against a Western imperial world.

This revolutionary tawdry and fawny narrative misses the trade and investment imperative. Its largely driven by old dictators, corrupt parties and individuals.

Zimbabwe and Africa cannot continue to be an easy alleyway for the mass export of decrepit products and brigades of cheap foreign labour much to the detriment of our legitimate trade and employment creation interests.

Woe be to the morally bankrupt and contemptible technocrats that are the easy Trojan horses for this most naked recolonialisation without the flag.

This client-state relationship does not get any more disgraceful than the recent donation of the new African Union building, built to order brick by brick full of the usual nests of external intelligence penetration.

Now here is a place that represents the full and unfettered dehorning of the African independence impulse. The usual traits of military ties with unpopular and beleaguered regimes spells the game of building and consolidating opaque commercial ties that have all the classic elements of looting and mass pillage.

The accelerated trading ties with the African continent is both a boon and a disaster that has seen trade grow from a miserly $10 billion in 2000 to an estimated $100 billion by end of 2012 with close to 2 million Chinese nationals on the African continent supporting that relationship.

Chinese commercial presence rarely extends beyond basic resource extraction with a smidgen of the usual technical expertise. There are usually no ethical considerations nor local (Chinese) image or pressure towards any trade and business decisions.

Accordingly, China benefits by a double whammy . . . its freedom from such pressures makes it a more attractive partner for some regimes, and the absence of competition from Western multinationals creates the possibility of larger profits . . .

China presents to unpopular regimes a complete package of infrastructure investment, trade and political support at the United Nations and the Zimbabwean engagement is no different. Lines of credit have been at best erratic and minuscule, and not anything of the nature of changing our economic fortunes.

The storied Anjin deal is not anything to write home about as its basically Chinese mechanised panning of the worlds largest alluvial diamond reserves with the usual security ties to obfuscicate true operational detail.

Everyone knows that its not the average Zimbabwean citizen who stands to benefit from such odium. With over $3,2 trillion in national reserves, China for all its usurpation and complete smothering of our once vibrant domestic manufacturing and retail sectors, has yet to make any meaningful, game-changing, and lasting investment forays into the country.

The energy sector through the development of our hydro-electric potential, methane coal-bed, uranium, and lithium resources merits serious and genuine investment engagement. Thus far our small friends with little benefit have restricted themselves to decimating the indigenous controlled manufacturing and retail areas.

Radio jamming equipment, fighter jets, munitions and military trucks are instruments of aiding and abetting repression. The jury is still out on the perception that China is a great force for good.

China is not interested in the development of our mineral resources towards responsible beneficiation, but massive basic extraction, and a generous supplier of small arms and munitions that have fuelled many African wars.

The endless plaudits of Chinese beneficence come from rulers, as the majority see rank exploitation and economic displacement behind the florid sloganeering of a true partnership.

As a true dumping ground for dangerous sub-standard Chinese merchandise, the existing business model only promotes perpetual cash squeeze as the small monies from poor folk are aggregated at hundreds of Chinese shops across the country and physically repatriated back to China.

How many Chinese people have you seen in the banking halls? The liquidity challenge is particularly tight in the first quarter of 2012 in Zimbabwe as most of the little year-end disposable incomes bought cheap Chinese clothing, toys and fireworks and was soon shipped out of the country.

While Chinese government policy might not be factually imperialist, it is effectively so through its brutal and ruthless fight for opportunities in the last frontier of trade and investment opportunity
Africa and in this case Zimbabwe.

For all their endless visiting delegations that have not seen us fare any better with their distinct presence, for many ordinary Zimbabweans the Chinese will forever remain our small friends with little benefit as they have only managed to introduce more carcinogenic monosodium glutamate-MSG in our restaurant soups no more and no less . . .

My administration will seek more responsible and meaningful Chinese trade and investment engagement benefiting the broader majority as we enter into a new era of after an affirmative headcount of departing Chinese delegations.

Dr Raymond Chamba
Presidential Candidate (Independent)
Email: trchamba@u.washington.edu

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