‘Give China a chance’: Part One

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UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1754: Chinese propaganda poster showing Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong), Chinese Communist leader, with peasants during the Cultural Revolution of 1966. (Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images)

IN this series, we shall look at what other African countries have achieved economically owing to partnering with China.
First, let us start by delving briefly into Chinese history.
China is a country with past experiences that are very similar to those of African countries like Zimbabwe.
They are a cultured people with a rich history and heritage. However, in the last few centuries, their age-long civilisation was threatened by the coming of Westerners.
China faced the threat of colonisation first by Western nations, like Britain, then by neighbouring Japan.
It became semi-colonised after failing to stop the trade in opium, carried out by British sailors, on two occasions, called the 1st and 2nd opium wars.
And when Japan became ambitious by aspiring to compete with the West, China was engaged in a full out war of liberation similar to Zimbabwe’s Chimurenga wars.
After Japan was defeated in the mid 1940s, there were elements in the liberation party called the Communist Party of China (CPC) that broke away to form the Kuomintang (KMT) and there was civil war and disorder.
Mao Zedong and the CPC prevailed and China became a one party communist nation. However, they lost territories like Taiwan to runaway KMT leaders.
China then got involved in the Korean War, on the side of what would become North Korea, a communist nation. The US was on the other side and they failed to take over the north as they had done the south of Korea.
The US and the West condemned China for involving herself in a war affecting her very close neighbour Korea.
Like Zimbabwe, after the DRC war involvement, China got sanctioned by the West and remained isolated for over two decades.
Mao was hated by the West for his revolutionary spirit. He was succeeded by Deng Xiaoping who set out to improve the economy and open up the Chinese markets in domestic and foreign circles.
He carried out economic reforms called gaigekaifang and focused on modernising the Chinese society while retaining her traditions and culture.
It is this period which began in the 1970s which is responsible for the success of the Chinese economy today.
Clearly, Zimbabwe is now at a stage similar to that of China under Deng Xiaoping.
The nation is trying to escape Western-induced economic problems we have been facing for almost two decades now. This is owed to trade sanctions, negative propaganda and other forms of sabotage conducted by the West to hinder economic progress.
Among the alleged crimes of Zimbabwe are helping out a neighbour, namely DRC, and reacquiring ancestral land from white settlers.
These are measures similar to those taken by Mao and the West cannot allow them to be a success for it may lead to more African countries following suit.
For example, the Land Reform Programme has a strong following among blacks in South Africa and Namibia.
Seeing the many striking similarities between political, economic and social events that took place in China and Zimbabwe, it is therefore practical for Zimbabweans and other Africans to apply the Chinese model of development to fit the African perspective. After all, China’s is a success story as far as economic development is concerned.
However, the West has, through the media, taught blacks, especially Zimbabweans, that the Chinese are not worthy partners.
The West claims that Chinese goods are inferior because they are of cheap quality. In reality, the Chinese can produce both high quality and low quality goods. It is up to the consumer’s preference and financial capacity. Most of the high quality Western commodities we know are actually made in China and this fact alone should sufficiently debunk this false claim.
The West also claims that Chinese goods are produced through the use of child labour. This is a falsehood as the Chinese can only legally have one or two children per couple.
Children are thus somewhat spoiled in China and besides light chores in the countryside, there is no way the Chinese would expose their young ones to harsh conditions.
The Chinese population is so large that jobs are hard to come by for adults. Why then would they need to exploit child labour when millions of adults are seeking employment at each turn.
The demand for jobs is so high in China that they do not even employ foreigners for general jobs like cleaning, building and so on.
Another ridiculous claim from the West is that China has colonial ambitions in Africa. The truth is that China has no history of colonising other nations.
Her exploits to consolidate territory are at most concentrated to regional spheres like Tibet, Xinjiang and some islands in the Pacific Ocean that surround them.
Unlike the West, they are not a security threat because their goal is to source raw materials and open markets for their products.
The loans and services they provide are aimed at achieving this goal of honest trade as they acknowledge Africa as a giant when it comes to natural resources.
The West makes such ridiculous claims about China because they (the West) have a bad record in African history which is making them lose ground in Africa today.
They are largely remembered for their greed, cruelty and cunning throughout the slavery and colonisation period.
Naturally, African governments are opting for less hostile economic partners.
White settlers in Zimbabwe, for instance, had a conflict of interest such as keeping dual citizenships to protect the interests of the former coloniser while also enjoying colonial benefits like owning and farming on stolen land.
Yet it is Zimbabwe which holds the worst prejudice against the Chinese owing to their demonisation by the west.
It is like the raped embracing the rapist instead of a sincere friend.
How can we, the people who have faced isolation, demonisation and sanctions from the West more than any other African country take the word of the Westerners as truth.
They are lying through their teeth as their nations are falling behind Chinese development.
Their citizens are flocking to Chinese cities like Shanghai in search of opportunities and to see new trends in construction, technology and manufacturing.
Zimbabwe is therefore falling behind other African countries that are partnering with China.
Zimbabweans, particularly those in the Diaspora, have played a big role in echoing prejudicial sentiments against Chinese goods. This, they do because China is constantly roasted in the US and Europe.
Zimbabweans who go to China purchase cheap and low quality goods to sell at relatively high prices. This they do to maximise profit margins, but this gives a false impression of Chinese commodities being inherently of poor quality.
Terms like ‘mazhingaz’ are used derogatorily to refer to Chinese people and goods.
While this arrogant display towards the economic giant that is China, by Zimbabweans who are ironically in a time of seemingly adverse economic instability is taking place, other African nations have made vast economic progress largely owing to partnerships with China.

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