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Debate amid kidnappings: Is Chinese investment good for Africa?

February 1, 2012 | 11:10 am

Chinese technicians handle drilling equipment on an oil rig in the town of Paloich in southern Sudan

In the past week, Chinese workers have been kidnapped in the Sudan and briefly detained in Egypt, an alarming trend that spotlights the growing involvement of China as an economic force in Africa.

The continent is still just a sliver of China's worldwide trade. However, the commerce has grown markedly in the past decade as China has turned to Africa to help meet its booming demand for energy. China, in turn, has given African countries money and manpower for building projects.

Not everyone has been thrilled about the trade-off. Michael Sata, the recently elected president of Zambia, has been highly critical of Chinese mining companies and their treatment of his nation's workers. China has also come under scrutiny for cutting deals with repressive governments such as in Sudan.

Is Chinese investment good for Africa? A Ghanaian economist, a Portuguese politician and two professors of international studies took on that question in November at Intelligence Squared, a live forum for debate in London. Below is the introduction; to see the whole debate click here.

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— Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Photo: In a 2010 file photo, Chinese technicians man drilling equipment on an oil rig in the town of Paloich in southern Sudan, a region that last year gained independence as South Sudan. Militants reportedly captured 29 Chinese workers Saturday after attacking a remote work site in the volatile South Kordofan region of Sudan. Credit: Pete Muller / Associated Press

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