Chinafrique vs. Francafrique: repetition or reforms?

Posted on septembre 5, 2010


The book I’m currently reading is untitled  « La Chinafrique ». I don’t like the cover because the African looks like a moden slave and the Chinese appears to be the new colonist. I guess that is exactly what the authors of the book (Serge Michel and Michel Beuret, two French journalists) wanted to bring out.

While reading the book, I realized how, without knowing, I have witnessed the opening of a new page in history.
In Africa, I have lived in a neighborhood where everybody was French. And then, one morning I woke up and realized that the wind veered to the east.

Overnight, the French made way for Chinese or Malaysian executives supervising African, Indonesian and Filipino workers. A handful of French companies have lost contracts and shut up shop at the benefit of Chinese initiatives.

Why France is losing ground

One of the many reason would be the French President attitude towards African nations. When he talked about breaking up with old colonies, Nicolas Sarkozy outraged an Africa that can’t bear those who pretend to rescue her without any  interest. But that’s not all, this diplomatic incident was only one of the sign of the end.

Africans also hold against the French the way they are treated at French consulates. Those who make big money wish to send their children abroad so that they can get a strong and reputable education. France has long been a destination of choice. However, the frustration of student visa seekers has grown as big as the waiting lines in French consulates.

When I see how the Nigerians asking for a visa are humiliated at the (French consulate)… That’s not very smart, some of them are really rich. They (staff from the Chinese consulate) sort out the Good and the Bad. (…) If a dude is important, has great business opportunities, the visa will be handed to him on a plate.

In Cameroun, there are reports that Chinese cultural centers entered a cutthroat competition with French cultural centers. In other African countries also, students learn Chinese in order to go study in Asia. Tired of being treated as if they were good for nothing, these wealthy kids now choose China as a place to spend their fortune.

China has also welcolmed over 20.000 Africans students. Among them, 60% have received a scholarship from the Chinese government.

A Sino-African mixed-race

I personally don’t think that African people are deluding themselves over the nature of their relationship with the Chinese. It is not a love story and except for a couple of illegitimate Black-Asian children hanging around some neighborhoods, there’s only room for business talk…

I am going to tell you the truth. China is using Africa to get to the U.S. level and then outdistance them.
Jacob Wood, Chinese businessman living in Nigeria.

It is not a wedding made of love but of interests. China is not pretending to do  humanitarism, a practice now considered to be paternalistic. With a good expertise in Human Rights, China has nothing to teach to a corrupted Africa and vice-versa.

Mauro De Lorenzo, VP for Freedom and Free Enterprise

The Chinese are proving that we can do business in Africa, profitable business, while us, Western people, are locked up in a humanitarian vision. It’s the trend: Bono the singer and all his troup want to dress African’s sores, help them, cry with them because they have AIDS, because they are poor and pure. But humanitarism is also a method of control: it maintains a relation of domination.
Mauro de Lorenzo is part of a foundation that seeks alternate solutions to do away with poverty.

Jean Ping, Sino-Gabonese politician

Africa has a pressing need for partners. And yet, China is investing considerably on the continent. Whatever are her ulterior motives or the questionable aspect of some of her methods, she, at least, is present by our side. She sets up shop where the other powers refuse to come. (…) African people dream of Europe or America, they speak French, English, Spanish or Portugueuse. Not Chinese. But who rejects our students? Who balks at getting involved in Africa?- Jean Ping, – Sino-African politician that represented Gabon during a China/Africa Forum.

But why is China getting involved in Africa?

The book explains it point-blank. China and its excessive growth need all that Africa have an abundance of: ore, wood, fishes and minerais.

On her side, Africa has never been able to sit on the chairs  for U.N. members only. By forming an alliance with an Asian country that is part of the U.N. Security Council permanent members, the Black continent hopes to become part of history.

The common point between Chinafrique and Francafrique?

These two terms betray the predominance of just one country over a whole continent. All by themselves, the Chinese or French, have a tight grip on the Dark continent. Africa will then be exploited eternally. This time only, she is consenting…

Picture Source:

Paolo Woods
Southafrica pig

Note: Except for the last image, all the pictures on this page have been modified or cropped to meet specific dimensions and/or the theme of this article.

The quotation from Mauro de Laurenzo is a translation of a text that was already translated into French in the book « Chinafrique ».