Xinhua’s Yuan Qing and Ronald Ssekandi reports from Kampala on 21 Aug 2011:
Over the years China has scaled up its aid to Africa making it a formidable force on the continent to the dismay of Western donor agencies and countries.
For the African governments, it never gets as good as this. Many of them are happy about China’s increasing economic interest in the continent that is in dire need of pulling millions of its people out of poverty.
The assistance provided by China is fast, easy and effective, according to Okello Oryem, Uganda’s minister of state for international affairs.
Unlike the West, Chinese government doesn’t seem to be concerned with economic policies or good governance in Africa, and is happy to help based on “friendship, mutual respect and South-South cooperation.”
Yuan and Ssekandi quote Victoria Sekitoleko, a Ugandan and a former representative of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in China:
China does not thrust anything down your throat, what they do, they serve a la carte, they put out a table and you choose what you want and they give it to you. [...]
Where would Africa be if China said you know until you are governed well, we are not going to give you anything. [...]
Who decides good governance, who is to judge how Africa which is 54 countries is governed and therefore China should not come in because it is not looking at good governance, there is more to life than good governance. [...]
Like Sekitoleko, stakeholders in African countries seem to be more comfortable with China’s aid without strings attached. Okello Oryem, Uganda’s minister of state for international affairs, said:
The difference here is the aim to meet the purpose, whereas the aid we ask from China directly relates to our wishes and intentions, some of the aid from the West are predetermined at base say in London or Washington. [...]
In a way, China has been a far more generous donor than the West not only in terms of flows of resources, but also in the fact that, unlike the West, China doesn’t constantly remind African countries how much aid they have been getting from China.
Of course, it’s in China’s best interest to maintain an image of the benevolent lord and continues to speak from the position of a subaltern in the global South. But it makes one wonder how long can the free flow of good will last before its “a la carte” service runs out.
Members of China’s Tianjin Performing Art Troupe and local children take part in a parade in Grahamstown, South Africa, July 9, 2011. (Xinhua/Liang Quan)