China’s trade with Africa has soared to $114.81 billion in the first 11 months of 2010, according to the Chinese government’s first white paper on its economic and trade cooperation with Africa. To put that huge number in perspective, the paper pointed out that China-Africa bilateral trade volume was a mere $12.14 million in 1950. The trade relationship between the two has increased of 43.5% year-on-year. That number is expected to increase as Chinese demand for oil, gas, iron and other raw materials continues.
The report did not address criticism that Chinese control of Africa’s resources has led to local African communities not being allowed to reap economic rewards from the trades or arguments that the continent’s natural resources are being plundered. It also did not choose to put a spotlight on local disputes such as this past October when two Chinese mine bosses in Zambia were charged with attempted murder after shooting miners over a compensation dispute.
However, the 29-page paper, released by the State Council Information Office, constantly emphasised how China was helping the overall prosperity and economic health of Africa and that its trading role is an absolute essential. According to the paper:
- China-Africa economic and trade cooperation is now on a new historical starting point with the revitalized development of trade, investment, infrastructure and capacity building, along with gradually expanding cooperation in finance and tourism between both sides
- China has signed bilateral trade agreements with 45 African countries and enhanced cooperation in customs, taxation, inspection and quarantine to create favourable conditions for China-Africa trade development
- China-Africa economic and trade cooperation plays a significant role in promoting the establishment of a fair and rational new international political and economic order
- China has become Africa’s largest trade partner after six decades of development
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