Friday, February 09, 2007

China, Mozambique Issue Joint Communique to Uplift Ties

China, Mozambique issue joint communique to uplift ties

9/2/2007 9:39

Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday began his state visit to Mozambique, and the two countries on the same day issued a joint communique on bilateral cooperation and international affairs of common concern.

The communique was released after Chinese President Hu Jintao and his Mozambican counterpart Armando Emilio Guebuza held talks in the Mozambican capital.

The two leaders exchanged views and reached a broad consensus on implementation of the results reached at the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), bilateral cooperative relations and international and regional issues of common concern, the communique said.

The two nations hailed the traditional friendship, the sound development of bilateral ties since the establishment of diplomatic relations 31 years ago, and the cooperation in economic and social fields, according to the communique.

Mozambique reaffirmed its commitment to the one China policy, and its opposition to "Taiwan independence" in any form, including "de jure Taiwan independence," and to Taiwan's accession to any international organization of sovereign states, it said.

In a written statement released at the airport upon arrival in Maputo, Hu said that the Chinese and Mozambican peoples have forged a deep friendship during the country's liberation struggle and the national construction after its independence.

President Hu arrived here on Thursday after wrapping up a two-day state visit to South Africa.

On Wednesday, President Hu delivered a speech at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Hu said that strong China-South Africa relations of all-around cooperation serve the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples.

The Chinese government and people will work closely with the South African side to enhance mutual political trust and practical cooperation, as well as to steadily strengthen the bilateral strategic partnership to benefit both peoples, he said.

Hu also said that China will consolidate traditional friendship and expand practical cooperation with the whole of Africa.

Both China and Africa are important forces for peace and development and to deepen their friendship is the shared desire of the people of both countries, Hu said in his speech.

The Chinese president said that China's development is peaceful, open, cooperative and harmonious in nature.

"We aim to build a harmonious society at home, and work with other countries to build a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity," he said.

Also on Wednesday, President Hu met with the South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka for discussions on ways of deepening mutually-beneficial and practical cooperation between their two countries.

Chinese leader's almost triumphal trip to Africa

Growing skepticism met President Hu the further south he went as leaders signaled the end of the China-Africa honeymoon

By Scott Baldauf
Staff Writer of The Christian Science Monitor
and Joseph J. Schatz
Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA AND LUSAKA, ZAMBIA - Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to Africa started out last week with the usual manly handshakes, red-carpet strolls, factory visits, and displays of African dance and music.

This tour – which includes Cameroon, Liberia, Sudan, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, and the Seychelles, – serves to fulfill promises China made at a glitzy Beijing summit in November, where 48 African heads of state heard Mr. Hu pledge to double aid to Africa by 2009 and create an investment fund of $5 billion in the next three years.

By the end of 2006, China had already invested nearly $8 billion in Africa, mainly for extracting minerals and oil to fuel its booming economy, and during this trip, Hu has brought with him more loans and a veritable army of Chinese investors.

But the farther south Hu traveled this week, the more skepticism he met. Hu canceled a visit to Zambia's copper belt, fearing protests over low pay and poor working conditions at Chinese- run mines. In the lead-up to Zambia's Sept. 28 elections, runner-up presidential candidate Michael Sata promised to kick out the Chinese if he had won. In South Africa, President Thabo Mbeki recently warned his fellow African leaders not to allow Chinese investment to become a "colonial relationship."

At least one message of this trip: President Hu, the African honeymoon is over.

"Mbeki's speech reflects a deeper concern that is more addressed to Africans than to the Chinese," says Francis Kornegay, a senior researcher at the Center for Policy Studies in Johannesburg. "The Africans have to set the parameters of the relationship and know what they are getting out of the relationship."

Such caution on the part of a few African countries – concentrated in the south of the continent – doesn't mean that African leaders are ready to give China the boot. To the contrary, Hu's visit has been a rather triumphant follow-through on promises made during the Beijing summit.

At his first stop in Cameroon, Hu pledged $100 million in grants and soft loans. Last week, Hu and Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa launched a new copper-mining partnership, which, they say, will produce thousands of jobs, $800 million in investment – and plenty of copper for China's growing economy.

"It is in China's national interest and in Africa's interest to have a trading partnership," says Pieter Snyman, director of The Beijing Axis, a consultancy that helps South African companies do business with China. "African leaders find China to be more sympathetic to African needs than the West. Africa does not need just money or somebody to get infrastructure projects. It has to be a sustained relationship, and that's up to the Africans to get what they want out of it."

What Africans want, of course, differs from country to country. In Sudan, where Hu visited last week, leaders sought more investment in the oil industry and in refining. In South Africa, business and political leaders seemed eager to push China to accept more African imports into their markets. And in resource-rich but impoverished countries like Zambia, political leaders and workers alike were pushing for better wages, and a bigger cut in the profits from mining.

Anger in Zambia

"They are just using us – we are like tools. They come here to invest, but at the end of the month they just pay us peanuts," says Likezo Mukumbi, a security guard at a shopping complex in Zambia's capital, Lusaka. Mr. Mukumbi says the Zambian government should do more to ensure that the Chinese are treating Zambians fairly.

Sentiments like that fueled the presidential bid of Mr. Sata, a shrewd and charismatic former government minister, during September's national elections. Sata threatened to run "exploiter" Chinese investors out of town, drawing cheers from many of Zambia's urban poor. Sata said he would recognize Taiwan as an independent nation if elected, and drew a rebuke from China's ambassador in Zambia, who suggested that China would cut ties with Zambia if Sata was elected – calling into question China's avowed policy of noninterference in local politics.

Low wages and safety concerns at Chinese-run mines have drawn the ire of Zambian labor unions and mining communities. Concern built to outrage when an explosion at a Chinese-run Chambishi mine killed 51 Zambian miners in 2005. Hu's delegation canceled plans to visit Chambishi during his visit amid rumors of potential protests.

Mining accidents are not the only aspect of the Chinese presence that irks many Zambians. In recent years, an influx of Chinese traders and other small-businesspeople have begun operating in local markets, selling inexpensive Chinese clothes and other imports, and putting pressure on local entrepreneurs.

It is this same issue of competition that has begun to irk South African manufacturers and retailers, says Raymond Louw, editor of the Southern African Report, in Johannesburg. But unlike Zambia, the pressure has not built to the point where it spills out into street protests.

China's ability to launch business partnerships, and also to offer massive loans for infrastructure clearly gives it the advantage over multinational corporations, who come just to do business. It also comes without all the colonial baggage that British, French, and even US companies carry.

"Africa has a long history with colonial powers, and the colonial powers ripped off Africa, period," says a former South African diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Then along comes China, this emerging giant, and they play a very clever game. They want certain things from certain parts of the world, and they say, 'We will not interfere in local issues.' That is attractive to Africa; when you look at Zimbabwe and at Darfur, those are controversial places to do business, but the Chinese are there, and they don't interfere."

Like other African leaders, Zambian officials maintain that the Chinese government treats them with respect – and understands the social and political environment they deal with, as opposed to many Western donors.

"They know what it means to go to bed without a meal.... There is more understanding between the Chinese and ourselves," says Vernon Mwaanga, Zambia's minister of information and broadcasting.

Yet increased trade is bringing increased public discontent in places, and that's something African and Chinese leaders will have to address. Responding to South African fears about imports undercutting the local market, Hu last year cut textile imports to South Africa by one-third. Trade between the two countries still roared ahead another 36 percent this year.

Hu Jintao's trade safari

China's President Hu Jintao and a 130-strong delegation is concluding an eight-nation tour of the African continent with trips to Mozambique and the Seychelles on Friday and Saturday. As part of China's bid for Africa's mineral resources, Mr. Hu inked trade and economic assistance deals in each nation.

Here's what Hu did during his 12-day swing:

Cameroon: Canceled Cameroon's debt (amount unspecified), pledged $100 million in grants and soft loans, and signed agreements to build two schools and a hospital in the capital of Douala.

Liberia: Signed a memo canceling all of the $15 million of debt Liberia owed to China and announced a tax exemption on all Liberian exports to China.

Sudan: Signed seven documents on economic and technological cooperation and canceled debts amounting to $19 million.

Zambia: Inaugurated the Zambia-China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, including a massive mining partnership in the country's copper belt, to spur development in the smelting, construction, home-appliance, and food-processing industries.

Namibia: Signed a $139 million soft loan (of which $59 million was interest free), a grant, and dozens of scholarships. Made a four-point proposal to boost political and cultural ties between the two nations.

South Africa: In his first state visit and his ninth meeting with President Thabo Mbeki, Hu pledged a "new strategic partnership" including opening the Chinese market to local fruit exports and assistance to South African development programs.

Mozambique: Expected to announce the cancellation of $15 million in debt Mozambique owes China.

Seychelles: This 110-island archipelago is of strategic importance to oil routes and military bases in the Indian Ocean – two areas China has a significant interest in developing.

Compiled by Leigh Montgomery from wire reports

The Japan Times

China's courtship of Africa

Chinese President Hu Jintao is near the end of an eight-nation tour of Africa, which has renewed anxieties associated with "China's rise." Yes, the trip is proof of Beijing's expanding interests and its global reach. And yes, China's readiness to ignore misbehavior by its African friends and trade partners undermines global norms. But the criticism is proof that China's behavior is coming under increasing scrutiny as well.

The attention China pays to Africa reflects several core national interests. The first is economic: China is increasingly reliant on the continent for raw materials. Africa supplies one-third of China's oil: Angola is China's No. 1 source, and China imports substantial supplies from Sudan and Nigeria too. Beijing gets bauxite from Guinea, copper from Zambia, uranium from Namibia and rare metals from Congo.

The economic relationship goes both ways: China is investing heavily in Africa and sending products to Africa. The result has been a quadrupling of trade since 2002; last year, China-Africa trade hit $ 55.6 billion and is expected to reach $ 110 billion by 2010.

Economic ties grease diplomatic relations. Last year, Mr. Hu hosted a summit for nearly 50 African leaders, the largest diplomatic event of its kind in postwar Chinese history. During the meetings, Chinese companies signed deals worth nearly $ 2 billion and Mr. Hu pledged $ 5 billion in loans and credit to Africa and a doubling of aid by 2009. The first tranche of that aid -- $ 3 billion -- was announced prior to Mr. Hu's recent departure.

Diplomatic support pays other dividends. Beijing has been relentless in its efforts to woo the remaining countries that recognize Taiwan, several of which are in Africa. Africa is also an arena of diplomatic competition with Japan, as Tokyo and Beijing seek to expand their influence and find supporters for their various international initiatives.

China engages these countries in markedly different ways than does the West. It is less likely to scrutinize its partner governments' behavior. For example, Beijing has been unwilling to criticize the Sudan government's appalling actions in Darfur where hundreds of thousands are estimated to have been killed and millions displaced; the United Nations calls it genocide.

China's blindness is partly a result of the oil rights it has acquired from the government in Khartoum, but it also reflects different thinking about sovereignty and the appropriate development model for a nation.

China maintains that economic development should precede political development and, more importantly, that those priorities should not be challenged by outsiders. That approach -- which has been called "the Beijing consensus" in contrast to the "Washington consensus" that has been embraced by most international lending institutions -- has many supporters in Africa. Some argue it is a source of "soft power" and an increasingly valuable asset for China.

China's growing presence has disadvantages as well. There is a growing view in Africa that China is the latest in a long line of colonialists. South African officials charge that local high unemployment rates are the result of cheap Chinese imports. There are increasingly widespread reports of shoddy -- and sometimes dangerous -- Chinese goods throughout the region. Chinese oil workers in Nigeria have been kidnapped, and more such incidents are likely as the Chinese presence expands throughout the continent.

In Zambia, a Chinese mining company was accused of banning unions and cutting corners on safety. An explosion at the explosives company affiliated with the mine killed dozens of people; protesters were shot by a manager a year later. In last year's election, one Zambian presidential candidate charged his country was becoming "a province of China" and pledged to throw out Chinese companies if he won. While he did not, the fact that he could make China an issue in the election shows the depth of the ill feeling toward Beijing -- and unleashed similar complaints in other countries.

China's growing presence also focuses attention on how Beijing uses its influence. Beijing is coming under pressure for shielding Khartoum and Mr. Hu urged that the government be flexible toward the U.N. and the African Union's initiative aimed at realizing peace in Darfur. Mr. Hu's failure to urge Khartoum would have lent credence to the charge that Beijing is not the responsible nation that it claims to be. China's behavior will be increasingly scrutinized by Africans and outsiders. Therein lies the best hope for ensuring that "China's rise" is truly in the interests of all countries, not just the Chinese.

The Japan Times: Friday, Feb. 9, 2007
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