Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Report Offers Counterbalance to Negative Coverage of Sino-African Cooperation
By Wang Jiamei
Global Times
2017/6/29 21:38:39

It is not uncommon to see negative coverage in the Western media of Chinese investment in Africa, but the latest McKinsey report on China-Africa economic cooperation may serve as a reminder that the country's contribution to Africa's development should not be overlooked.

Based on a survey covering more than 100 senior African leaders and more than 1,000 owners or managers of Chinese businesses in eight African countries, McKinsey published a report titled the "Dance of the lions and dragons" on Wednesday. The report said that there are more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating across many sectors in Africa today, of which around 90 percent are privately owned. They are helping to accelerate the economic development in Africa by bringing capital investment, management know-how and entrepreneurial energy.

Meanwhile, China has quickly become Africa's biggest economic partner in merely two decades. Trade between China and Africa has been growing at about 20 percent every year over the past decade, with foreign direct investment surging at an annual growth rate of 40 percent, according to data from the report. Also, as the largest source of construction financing, China has supported much of Africa's infrastructure development in recent years. "Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing and aid, there is no other country with such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa," the report says.

While listing areas that need to be improved, such as labor and environmental violations, the report still recognized that China's "growing involvement is a strong net positive for Africa's economies." Such a "bigger picture" attitude should be a reminder for many in the Western media, who have often found fault with Chinese projects and businesses in Africa.

From time to time, Chinese companies have been accused of exploiting natural resources in Africa, as well as poor labor practices and other malpractices by the Western media, and sometimes one company's problem is used to tar all Chinese companies. Some provocative media reports have failed to mention China's contribution to the local economy, thus giving a misleading perception of Chinese investment in the continent.

It should be admitted that some problems are inevitable in China's investment in Africa. But the positive impact of Chinese companies on the local economy should not be ignored. Overstating a problem while overlooking the overall economic boost misses the bigger picture, while also provoking conflict and confrontation, which is not helpful in addressing the problem.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

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