CHINA is behaving irresponsibly in its trade relations with Africa and should better adhere to international standards, rights activist and Irish rocker Bob Geldof said on Tuesday.
The anti-poverty campaigner told a corporate ai
d event in Finland China’s philosophy was mercantilist — based entirely on money without regard for political stability or the welfare of African people.
“They are everywhere, they invest huge amounts of money — it’s very positive for some of the countries, but negative for others,” he said.
“There is a danger because that’s naive and it’s disingenuous. They’re now a major power and they must behave to international standards.”
China is Africa’s third-largest trading partner, exporting US$16,4 billion worth of goods and services in the first six months of 2007, up 49% from a year earlier, China’s Commerce Ministry said in August.
China’s direct outbound investment in Africa reached US$480 million in the same period.
Geldof said China was exacerbating some of the continent’s most difficult problems, including Darfur and Zimbabwe.
“The Chinese want the oil, they don’t want anything interfering with the Khartoum government, so they give free guns to the Sudanese army,” he said, adding 6% of Chinese oil was coming from Sudan, which makes up 60% of the country’s production.
Geldof said money and resources were also the driving force behind China’s support of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, criticised by analysts for driving a once thriving economy into the ground and frightening off foreign investment.
Deepali Khanna, East and Southern Africa regional director of grassroots organisation Plan International, said China could help stabilise the situation in Africa if it wanted to, especially in Sudan.
“China could be playing a much more pivotal role — China wants whatever is convenient for them and lets the rest of the world keep fighting over Darfur,” she said.
“But the investment that’s coming from China — they could pull that out; they could be getting the equilibrium right, but they are not.
“They’re making the government much more arrogant in wanting to do things they have been doing so far.”
Geldof and Khanna spoke at a seminar challenging the corporate sector to get more involved in the continent.
The musician said Europe needed to give more in order for African countries to come closer to achieving the United Nations’ objectives to halve poverty and achieve universal education by 2015 under itsMillennium Development Goals.
He said meeting those goals was impossible under the present conditions.
“Uganda will probably make the child mortality figures, some African countries will make the education figures, but if you look at immunisation for all, if you look at the Aids figures … Africa will miss all the Millennium Development Goals,” he said. — Reuters.