Sunday, June 28, 2009

China Comes to Africa, on Chinese Terms

This article from the Wall Street Journal suggests that China's continuing investments in Africa may offset declining investment from the West, but that the Chinese often have their own way of running things:
In African countries where China has invested, many local people complain that the Chinese companies import everything -- including bottled water and toilet paper -- from home, bypassing the domestic economy. In mineral-rich countries such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, some Chinese companies have a reputation for exploiting workers. ...

In 2005, 46 Zambians were killed in an explosion at a copper mine owned by China's state metals conglomerate. A government inquiry showed the company had cut corners on safety and banned union organizing.

The Chinese company paid compensation to the victims' families and allowed a union to be formed. The following year, Chinese security guards at the mine opened fire on Zambian workers who were protesting the company's failure to improve working conditions and to deliver back pay promised in a new union deal.

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