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Opinion & Analysis (1011)

22 April 2005, Business Day DEVELOPING Asia is moving up SA’s strategic agenda. In recent months China and India have dominated the headlines as we move to start free-trade negotiations with them. Those processes, particularly that with China, are proving contentious. Partly in consequence, little attention has been paid to southeast Asia.
China has captured the world's attention. There are two reasons for this: 1.3 billion people and a rate of economic growth doubling the economy every five years since 1980.
READERS of these pages should be aware of the regular statistical consommé on China and the effect of its economic growth. For example, if the People’s Republic had to reach US car ownership levels, it would consume more oil than is currently produced daily and the 600-million cars on China’s roads would be more than all the cars in the world today; and if the Chinese annually ate as much fish per capita as the Japanese, they would consume the entire world fish harvest.
THE test of a democracy is not whether its leaders never fall foul of the law, or bring high office to disrepute. It is whether — if, or when, they do — leadership understands the responsibility of applying the principle of zero tolerance of corruption unequivocally. By that count, SA has earned kudos in recent weeks: progress on Travelgate, and most notably the bold move of releasing Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president.
Africa needs China. As in other parts of the developing world, China’s insatiable appetite for natural resources is creating unprecedented demand for commodities, pushing prices to new highs and fuelling economic growth across the continent.
As an election observer in the general elections in Mozambique at the beginning of this month, I criss-crossed the north-western province of Tete in order to cover as many polling stations as possible. Passing baobab trees on our way to polling stations in tiny villages, my observer team from the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA) came across many others on the same mission: numerous local observers, a team of parliamentarians from the southern African region, and international observer groups from the European Union (EU), the Commonwealth and the Carter Centre.
When floor crossing was first introduced its expediency was camouflaged in the diaphanous cloak of “conscience”. If it was diaphanous then, it has no semblance of apparel now. And the emperor has been exposed.
In late February a diplomatic flurry in the regional trading firmament erupted.  Our Foreign Minister stated in Parliament that the EU, out of fear over the Chinese trade "threat", is using Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU to lock in old colonial trading relationships. Subsequently Peter Mandelson, EU Trade Commissioner, descended on Pretoria and Gaborone. What is going on? 
As published on After a brief stop in Chad last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France went on to visit a country not traditionally part of the French area of influence in Africa - South Africa. The trip was made against the backdrop of a complete overhaul of France's Africa policies, in which Sarkozy is proclaiming partnerships with equal nations instead of relations based on old colonial ties. Romy Chevallier of the South African Institute of International Affairs explains the background.
The despatching of 135 Chinese peacekeeping troops to the troubled Darfur region this week as part of the UN-AU hybrid force highlights the changing role that China is playing in Africa.  Once opposed to any form of international intervention in the domestic affairs of states, the Chinese government is becoming an active participant in UN peacekeeping, providing over 7500 military observers, engineers, medical teams and other specialists in support of peace and stability.  Indeed, since 1990 China has sent troops to 15 UN peacekeeping missions ranging from East Timor to Western Sahara, making it the largest contributor among the five…
China is an enigma. It continues to be a communist state while at the same time depending on capitalist dynamics to achieve economic progress and a prosperous society. It is also a land where both vestiges of an ancient civilization and manifestations of a modern nation serve to confirm its position as a leading civilization.
The extravagance on show at the China-Africa Summit in Beijing last November marked the beginning of a consolidation of ties between the two regions. The world watched in wonder as Chinese and Africa leaders celebrated their ever-deepening economic and political ties against the backdrop of Chinese acrobatic troupes, African drumming exhibitions, the piercing wail of Peking opera and panoramic tourist posters of the African savannah.
Monday, 29 October 2007

China in Africa

Nowhere in the world is China’s rapid rise to power more evident than in Africa.  From multi-billion dollar investments in oil and minerals to the influx of tens of thousands of merchants, labourers and cheap consumer goods, China’s economic and political reach is redefining Africa’s traditional ties with the international community.  Two-way trade has jumped from a modest US$10 billion in 2000 to over US$55 billion in 2006, making China the continent’s third largest trading partner while China’s US$1 trillion in foreign currency reserves are being mobilised to fund projects as far away as Katanga and the equatorial forests of…
Reality is a hard taskmaster. It can be the spoiler of grand ideals, but also the voice of reason. Within two weeks of each other, the European Union and the African Union held their mid-year summits: the former hoped to save some elements of its stalled constitutional process; the latter envisaged the edifice of continental government. The outcomes of both were compromises ... as is the habit of summits.
As published in Business Day THE recent meetings of the Group of Seven (G-7) finance ministers in Essen, Germany, and of legislators from the Group of Eight (G-8) in Washington, were pivotal not only because of their shared focus on climate change but because of which states were invited to participate. Alongside the traditional members were representatives of the five big emergent countries - China, India, Brazil, Mexico and SA. This process of restructuring reveals the increasingly apparent legitimacy and efficiency gap in the institutional set-up, a deficiency that radiates out from the G-7 and G-8 summit arrangements to the…
Business Day AS THE world’s poorest, most agriculturally dependent continent, Africa is the most vulnerable region to global climate change. It is estimated that Africa’s gross domestic product could decline up to 10% because of the effects of this phenomenon. Yet, the World Economic Forum on Africa and recent discussion on Africa’s economic outlook for this year made minimal mention of climate change and its economic ramifications for African countries. This is cause for concern, given that climate change is one of the most significant sustainable-development challenges facing the world, with huge implications for all economic enterprises.
IN THEIR first referendum since 1963, Kenyans took to the polling booth in November to vote on a new constitution. The result was a resounding 'no' vote that was both stinging rebuke to incumbent president Mwai Kibaki and a sign of intensifying political conflict.
Business DayWho wins in the German election this week may not matter in the short term to Africa. How the new government tackles unemployment and a faltering economy may, however, affect Germany’s developmental and economic engagement with Africa in the medium term.
As published in Business Day WHILE there was great anticipation about the results for Africa at the Gleneagles summit, perhaps the release of Ghana and Rwanda’s African peer review reports will prove more significant. If the deficiencies highlighted are addressed, this will hold greater promise for African accession to the global economy.
Business Day, 21 October 2004British-based human rights interest group Amnesty International has accused Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu (PF) party of exploiting the current food insecurity to its advantage. In its report, Zimbabwe: Power and Hunger Violations of the right to food, Amnesty International is arguing that a large part of the Zimbabwean population has gone hungry due to 'discrimination and corruption'.
Business Day, 12 October 2004Interest groups can act as opposition agents when influencing government. Hence, political parties practise opposition politics, but interest groups do, too. This is happening in Zambia, where interest groups are questioning the current constitutional review process the fourth since independence from the UK in October 1964.
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