News Update – July 2014


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From this issue of News Update:

Are Chinese still welcome by the African people?

Sixteen years ago, when I first visited Africa, I could give you a resounding ‘Yes’ to the question. Sadly, things have changed rapidly in the last few years. No one finds it easy to give a simple answer now.

Two years ago when I was traveling in Ghana, I met a lady from Niger who complained to me how the Chinese merchants stole the designs of their native dresses, manufactured them in China and shipped back to her country selling at one third of the price. It killed most of their garment factories.

A year ago, we all read the news that thousands of Chinese were illegally mining gold in Ghana. They cut down forests, despoiled the land and streams with mercury in the gold extraction process. Local people were angry that Chinese were bribing the authorities and showering their chiefs with gifts to get the licences that plunder the country’s resources. A Chinese missionary couple told me that the locals in the market refused to do business with them because they were thought to be one of those “Chinese”.

In his best selling book ‘WHEN CHINA RULES THE WORLD’ published in 2009, Martin Jacques describes China as a new economic super power which stands to fit perfectly meeting various needs in Africa. China’s impart on Africa, he observed then, was overwhelmingly positive. That was 5 years ago.

So how do African people look at China now?

Howard W. French, a renowned journalist who has travelled extensively to more than 10 African countries and interviewed hundreds of Chinese and Africans, described what China is doing in Africa in his latest book, ‘CHINA’S SECOND CONTINENT’, is basically another version of colonialism. It is a form of foreign domination, albeit economically. Historically, China has never claimed any territory as her colony like what the Western countries had done in recent centuries. Instead, China’s outreach to Africa came as aids to those countries – building hospitals, roads, stadiums, hydro dams, airports and the list goes on and on. However, African people noticed that most of the projects were tendered to Chinese construction companies which always come with the lowest bid together with low quality products. In exchange for all these are the natural resources from Africa which
include oil, minerals, timber, fishery etc.

The African people also notice, that not long after, they will be left with nothing for their future generations, except shabby infrastructures and, even a greater concern, the oncoming Chinese immigrants, millions of them, who will live with them, share their resources and dominate over them in all walks of life.

This is not just what the book, ‘CHINA’S SECOND CONTINENT’, has depicted. This is also what I have seen and felt recently when I travelled in Ghana and Togo. Regrettably, this has become the current backdrop of CIM’s ministry in Africa. Given our commitment of mobilizing Chinese to outreach cross culturally to Africans, are we then picking up a tailwind which will take us further and faster or a headwind that can barricade or even halt our ministry?

Centuries ago, western missionaries came to China under the protection of guns and warships. The result then was disastrous. Hostility of the Chinese to Christianity had never been greater and deeper. Are we now walking into the same scenario under an equal shade of dominance of Chinese money and immigrants?

Are Chinese still welcome by the African people?

If they are not, does it mean the end of our ministry in Africa? I will tell you more in the next News Update.

Rev. Philip Leung (Executive Director)