Wednesday, July 17, 2024

The China Propaganda in Perspective

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President Edgar Chagwa Lungu (centre) accompanied by other African Leaders arrives for the official opening of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Beijing, China on Monday, September 3,2018. PICTURE BY SALIM HENRY/STATE HOUSE ©2018

By Kumbukilani Phiri

It has indeed been a busy few weeks after the FOCAC where the entire African leadership except for Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) went to Beijing to cut deals with China. The West has gone wild with propaganda and most African countries have been a target of the China scare slander campaign.

Now that the lies and truths about the China fever in Africa has reached its peak and we are now faced with the dilemma to either believe what has been said or not, I thought of sharing my thoughts on this topic.

A few days before the FOCAC in Beijing, I wrote about some distinct policies that have made China to be where it is now and wished our leaders the best of their FOCAC meetings in Beijing.

Truth be told, China is not and will not be the bad guy in the cooperation with Africa. If this cooperation is going to fail, we will have ourselves to blame. Here is why;

China FDI to Africa is still the lowest among all the continents. For instance, in 2016, the highest China NET FDI went to Asia at $130.27 billion, followed by Latin America at $27.23 billion, North America at $20.35 billion, Europe at $10.69 billion, Oceania at $5.21 billion and Africa received a paltry 2.4 billion investment. In fact the United States receives more China FDI than the entire Africa every year.

China has a very powerful leadership structure which Africa or African countries cannot match. Therefore, when it comes to the execution of the deals, if Africa does not up its systems to match up to China, then we stand to lose out.

According to the Chinese, A WIN WIN deal is one in which either party gets their perceived value from the deal. As Africans, we have a tendency of getting satisfied and comfortable with mediocrity. If we are going to execute these deals with poor governance structures, our representatives will easily sign off deals once they are given a few coins for themselves, not knowing that they are actually selling off an entire country.

The lack of understanding of Chinese culture by Africans is our weakest bargaining point. The Chinese try to understand their partner’s way before sitting down with them for any discussions. The Chinese will go to great lengths to know the size of your dress, the number of children you have, what food you like, etc, so that when they meet you, it will look like they have known you for a long time. They will buy gifts for you whether you are visiting them or they are visiting you. Unfortunately, as Africans we even ask our hosts or visitors to buy us gifts of our choice without any reciprocation. This becomes our weak touch to negotiate deals as we are already psychologically defeated by the generosity of our colleagues and the only thing left is to be soft on negotiating national deals as a way to give back. This is the reason why we get surprised at how our representatives signed off certain deals which look very unreasonable. In such instances we need to know that they were given some iPads and phones by the other party before getting on the negotiating table.

Failure is not part of Chinese vocabulary and culture. Chinese respect instructions from their leaders and have a strong sense of patriotism. It’s an honour for a Chinese to represent his country at any platform and they take this very seriously. When leaders assign work to a Chinese subordinate, they expect total success no matter what it takes. Subordinates also want to exceed their leader’s expectations by executing deals at the lowest budget and in record time. This culture poses a great threat to our representatives who mostly have no loyalty to their leaders and their countries. They will go to China with a laisses faire attitude and they will be knocked down in the first round by their well prepared and not taking chances opponents.

China is smart, no cash will be poured in our treasuries, and money will be given directly to Chinese contractors. Now, imagine signing off a deal at 3 times the actual value because you received a little insignificant something from our Chinese friends as a gift, the fact is that you will have sold off your entire country because the executing companies for the deals will be Chinese with little local content. Therefore, the net gain for most deals may end up in the negatives as there is no effect in the communities where they are being carried out. We can take a leaf from the Malaysian Prime Minister on how he wants to deal with China.

China will continue making friends for recognition as a real world power and Africa is an easy ally because of its global positioning and we are known to be very good receivers (reactive) and not givers (proactive). Further, we don’t make any decisions at the UN or at WTO; we can easily be swayed and bought.

The West will continue playing double standards as regards our friendship with China. In the actual fact, they are also yearning for Chinese money as much as we do. Imagine they are the largest beneficiaries of the Built and Road Initiative and only a few African countries will directly benefit from it, but they are trying to portray a picture of bad deal for Africa already. We need to be very careful with them.

The West still has no trust about our loyalty to them and our capacity to make good decisions for ourselves. Their fear is that China will spoil us to compensate for their centuries of lies to us, so they will continue sponsoring propaganda to confuse our already confused minds. We need to put our focus on what we want from China not what the West is telling us. In as much as we have to be cautious as we cooperate with China, the west should be the last to pretend to have our best interests at heart, they have had the opportunity to be our real messiah for centuries now, but they can only point at brainwashing us using their culture which to some extent supports their own agenda in Africa as it has failed to accrue meaningful development for us. Their primary focus was to grab our land and minerals for free. Surely with the rise of China, the west can sit back and either cooperate or just compete. They have not been our real friends.

In conclusion, unless we are a cursed and not really ambitious at all, China poses a real opportunity for us to have some form of control on what we want. That’s why we need to quickly devise a strategy for our new friend. He is rich and he is ready to spoil us, but, will he spoil us with intoxicating substances or tangible things that will benefit us even in the future? The choice is ours. Our excitement to receive free things should not blind us to the real threat that the new loans and grants that our rich friend (China) is giving us. Remember our friend has a family and a big family of over 1.5 billion people to take care of. We need to study him carefully, we need to know his interests, and we need to know his motivation of coming to us. We need to understand how we can tame his expectations; we need him to know that we are not a bunch of people who can easily be bought with hard liquor and a few toys.

One thing for sure is that our new friend is here to stay, all we need is to make sure that he understands his role and position in our house; he needs to know that the master bedroom (internal politics) remains ours no matter his money. The day we will allow him to enter our master bedroom is the day we will lose our throne, and it will not be long before he throws us out like a stranger. We have been there before, the West came, and they forced themselves into our master bedroom and took over the throne. Today we are still healing from the scars of this part of our history. We shouldn’t forget, Africa still has a future, let’s not sell it to our new friends like our forefathers did; the consequences of doing that now may be too grave to the extent of putting our entire race at risk.

39 COMMENTS

    • There’s no such thing as a Free Lunch!!!!
      – Chinese loans promote corruption from the President down to security guards
      – Chinese investment does not employment/empowerment to locals. They bring in their own labourers from China. The locals employed are paid slave salaries
      – Most Chinese supervisors are racis.t
      – Africa can’t afford to repay Chinese loans which are unfair loans with contracts awarded to Chinese firms who buy raw materials, equipment, from China & bring in Chinese labourers
      – China has a long-term grand plan to take over Africa’s natural resources & ports like they’ve taken over oil drilling in South Sudan, logging in Uganda/DRC, Indeni, Zesco, KKIA, Ports in Sri lanka & Djibouti.

    • – China has a huuuge population problem. These loans are an easy way to off-load its prisons & population. With Zambia having stup1d laws that allow foreigners to own land & a weak/porous immigration, primitiv.e police force & corrupt president & rotten judiciary, expect Chinese population to outgrow locals in a few years. Land in Lusaka is now too expensive for the locals due to Chinese buying land.

    • “China has a very powerful leadership structure….”, Edgar Lungu is not a powerful leader and to illustrate he takes along in his delegation to China, Freedom Sikazwe, Bowman Lusambo…..seriously!! What can these people negotiate on our behalf?

    • @1.1,1.2 Maloza, ALL THE ISSUES you have mentioned are encompassed in what the author has said, WE NEED TANACITY,INTELLIGENCE AND WISDOM TO DEAL WITH THE “CHINESE OPPORTUNITY,” WE NEED TO LET GO IRRESPONSIBLE AND BEGGER APPROACH AS WE DEAL WITH NATIONAL ISSUES! in short WE NEED A STRATEGY AND SERIOUSNESS as the author has put it – “That’s why we need to quickly devise a strategy for our new friend.” I can tell that there will

    • @1.5 Maloza, I DISAGREE with you; MIGRATION IS A GLOBAL PHENOMENON WHICH WE CAN’T STOP BUT MANAGE!! How do we manage that, THROUGH WELL THOUGHT THROW STRATEGIES AND POLICIES and NOT KNEE JERK REACTIONS!! The Chinese are now every where, in some countries they even have “China Town”s, we ARE VERY FAR FROM THAT!! We NEED CHINESE and ANY OTHER LOANS, BUT WE NEED TO BORROW AND INVEST WISELY, it is NOT CHINESE DUTY TO TELL US WHAT WE NEED, It is US and our leaders to figure out!! What is wrong to borrow and generate electricity to power industries or to build a road or airport to transport agric,industrial products and people to promote industrialization and tourism? Nothing wrong BUT EVERYTHING GOES WRONG WHEN PEOPLE CHOOSE A BRIBERY OR SUBSTANDARD WAY TO DO IT, and that is UP TO US AS…

    • …continued from 1.6 ..Nothing wrong BUT EVERYTHING GOES WRONG WHEN PEOPLE CHOOSE A BRIBERY OR SUBSTANDARD WAY TO DO IT, and that is UP TO US AS ZAMBIANS NOT THE CHINESE!!We had BORROWED from the WORLD BANK before, HOW MUCH DID WE DEVELOP WITH THEIR LOANS COMPARED TO CHINESE LOANS and GRANTS?? We are 54 years old as a Republic ,with parliamentary democracy, LET THOSE REPRESENTATIVES OPPOSED to CHINESE LOANS, IMMIGRATION etc galvanise the opposition through Parliament and explaining the reasons or exposing frauds and corruption on Chinese deals and TELL US THE BETTER ALTERNATIVES, THE ZAMBIAN PEOPLE WILL CERTAINLY RISE TO THE OCCASSION and replace the current crop of leaders with better practical thinkers that show to solve our problems in better way than now!!

    • China is the country to be with now. Make no mistake. It is give and take NOT, TAKE, TAKE, TAKE. We have seen it before! CHILDISH.

    • He’s better than your Lungu in charge of your country. That’s what you should have said. Why cast a blind eye and bring in HH a billionaire?

  1. iwe kumbukilani-i hope you know what your name means..

    why is the government of Zambia using donated/aid monies to pay its loans?
    Can you yourself go to china and sell salaula on its streets?
    show us just one country in this world that has been built and developed by china for free/win win agreement…..I hope ukumbukila vha mbili vhachitidwa ndi china voipha—-

    • @3 Ophusa, YOU have REALLY MISSED the GIST OF THIS WELL WRITTEN ARTICLE!! When the author says “That’s why we need to quickly devise a strategy for our new friend.” – he/she means that WE NEED TO ALIGN OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH CHINA WITH OUR REAL NEEDS SO THAT CHINA DOES NOT BRING SALAULA,CHICKEN and VEG SELLERS IN OUR STREETS!! THEY ARE HERE BCOZ OF OUR OWN POOR LEADERSHIP,ITS NOT CHINA’s FAULT THAT OUR GOVT ALLOWS THEM TO DO THINGS WHICH SHOULD BE RESERVED FOR LOCAL PEOPLE( Who sometimes prefer drunkeness and begging over hardwork)!!

  2. Colleagues, those of us who have been to Universities must and should understand that China has policies that they follow and all, we need to do is to take advantage of the existence and presence of the Chinese and also exploit them economically. There is absolutely nothing wrong with working with China as long as we know what we want and what we can get from them.

  3. What’s killing Zambia is the winner-takes-all politics we have allowed to flourish. It’s not the politicians, remember leadership is a reflection of the people they lead. This has led to weak political systems that can’t support economic systems. Every politician not in power demonises the one in power but when in power behaves exactly like the guy he was demonising, and the next guy in opposition starts to demonise him-and the vicious political cycle continues. Problem is us the people-we need to demand better calibre of politicians to lead us.

  4. Good article. But he left out the propagander of the opposition in the country. They only want to be the ones receiving those gifts.

  5. In a nutshell it is the corrupt leaders who sign anything for bribes for personal enrichment and campain funds support to stay in power……they are selling us down the river…

    • But who allows those corrupt leaders into power in the first place?? upnd councillors are already showing their corrupt side by abusing council funds yet you want the upnd to take over grz?? That’s what’s wrong with this country. Parties are not adhering to democratic practices but it’s ok as long as they replace Lungu?? Then the same people will start getting bribes from the Chinese and the cycle continues.

  6. Khumbukhani , I agree with you 101%! You are the pipo this nation needs! This China propaganda is playing very well on the minds of our minus politicians, who dont even know 1+ 1= 2. I never imagine our opposition can be so dumb and stupid to think and spread the trash all over the globe that Zambia is been bought by China! Foolish pipo with their followers on this forum with no political strategy! Your analysis is very to the point, ignore the *****s on this forum who are so illiterate and very backward that the only thing in there minds is to insult everyone with a positive view on our country!

  7. NO MATTER WHAT CHINA AND WEST DO, AFRICAN CHOOSE THE BEST TO YOURSELF IS ENOUGH, IT IS BUSINESS, ALSO BASED ON FRIENDSHIP,

    FROM CHINA

  8. Educative angle but Chinese culture and mindset.It appears the gift culture legitimises corruption and there in lies the danger for African leaders and negotiators.You article also confirms that we must have bad or unfair deals with China through “gifts”.Our leaders should consult Zambians who understand Chinese culture when devising Zambia-China Cooperation Strategy.We are our worst enemies regarding the lop sided chinese deals.We should not blame them.Well done Kumbukilani for educating us.

  9. Remember “The Art of War” was written by the Chinese General.
    These Chinese are damn good at strategy.
    Unfortunately, we are very short term in thinking especially our UPND friends.

    Insulting the chinese is poor strategy.
    Sensitizing each other like Kumbukilani is doing is very valuable.

  10. GREAT ARTICLE, it clearly tells US, OUR RESPONSIBILITY and HOW THOSE WHO HAVE MANIPULATED US FOR AGES WISHES TO CONTINUE DOING SO!! IT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY TO NEGOTIATE BETTER DEALS WITH CHINA ANCHORED ON PATRIOTISM and LONG TERM STRATEGIES TO DEVELOP OUR COUNTRY AND IMPROVE OUR LIVING CONDITIONS!! It is NOT China’s responsibility to: prioritize projects for us, to have simplistic corrupt leaders with no foresight, that is why China DOES NOT INTERVENE in our internal politics!! China has crowded the World Bank (Western World’s tool of domination) out of Africa,who were the main lenders for development, so propaganda is expected. HOWEVER,AS ZAMBIA and AFRICA, WE NEED TO PUT OUR HOUSE IN ORDER TO USE CHINESE RELATIONSHIP PRUDENTLY!!

  11. Without taking sides ie is China going to colonize our country or not, my take is Upnd is afraid that if the PF initiated projects succeed, their chances of ever forming government will be nil. Hence the propaganda that has now led to xenophobia against the Chinese. Recent incident is what happened in Chimwemwe last week. Instead of fighting the Chinese on the African continent why can’t the USA and their allies help us develop. If they think they we can steal the money, they can simply send their people here to implement these projects. But if they don’t, then they are like a brother who doesn’t want his sister to marry when he knows he can’t marry her.

  12. Ati “Africa received just $2.4b in FDI” . Honestly how does Africa expect to receive larger sums when your economic engine fires at low power of 250horsepower?

  13. Brilliant article. The Chinese will abuse you as much as you allow them to. If they can get away with abusing Zambian workers because of bad labour laws then they will continue to abuse the system. chinese money is welcome but we need to tell them the master bedroom is out of bounds like the writer says.

  14. Just reading people’s comments on this article, one realizes ati koma mu Zambia multi vibantu vanzelu eeehhh!! But why there’s so much foolishness in our country no one knows….kapena tili cave cursed aini??

  15. I am looking forward to a time the Chinese will start donating condoms and ARVs’ for our health care. Hope we shall accept and trust the gifts.

    • @17 George, INSTEAD THE CHINESE CREATED A MULTI-FACILITY ECONOMIC ZONE (MFEZ) in Lusaka, and some investors there will start producing cheaper ARVs,anti-malaria and other medicines which we can even export to other countries. THIS WHAT THIS ARTICLE IS TELLING US – TO MOVE AWAY FROM BEGGAR MENTALITY and to start looking at what we are worth and all the potential around us which we can use to gain self sufficiency and respect among a community of nations!!

  16. The Chinese and their Investments is welcome but Its supposed to be a Two way traffic in trade and returns , to the mutual benefit and advancement of the other there should not be a one sided traffic See this

    Total Reported Exports to China
    2011 617,34
    2012 697,31
    2013 729,69
    2014 725,67
    2015 552,07
    2016 489,91
    3 811,98

    Total Reported Imports From China
    2011 -2776
    2012 -2687
    2013 -3048
    2014 -3071
    2015 -1786
    2016 -2184
    -15551.72

    see the Balance of Trade in the -15 551,72 Million USD worthy of imports…

  17. against a patry 3111 million USD of exports by Zambia to China

    Against the total Reported Chinese Loans to Zambia from which we want to recoup the returns to change the adverse trade imbalance on our National Accounts

    2011 1499
    2012 748
    2013 675
    2014 577
    2015 949
    2016 1990
    6 438,09

    See the Total Reported Gross Profits By Chinese Contracting Firms
    2011 748,2
    2012 1233,8
    2013 2490,5
    2014 2030,2
    2015 1789,8
    2016 1790,45

    Those investments are welcome but in sincerity,mutually beneficial and taking the interest of both parties in national development

  18. Imports – Exports= Investment – Savings + Government Spending – Taxes

    The above should translate positively in the above whether Its Chinese or others

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