By Jerome-Mario Utomi
After watching a video of racial intolerance, maltreatment and breach of the World Health Organization (WHO), procedure suffered in the hands of Chinese authorities by some blacks that allegedly had COVID-19 infection in Guangzhou, aside from being left lost in the maze of high voltage confusion, one would wonder what the government officials in Guangzhou actually meant to achieve. As we know, Guangzhou, also known as Canton is the capital and most populous city of the province of Guangdong, in southern China.
Without going into details of the video in question as the content is already on public domain, it is obvious that, such action by the Chinese government, instead of contributing to the global peace, broadening economic trends to influence the prospect of success in a number of important changes now taking place in the world, will further remind the world that identities are not shaped only through positive and creative processes of participation and communion, but also through experiences of exclusion, maginalization and exposure to regressive ideologies- expressed in the mainstream ideologies of the country of settlement.
For all intents and purposes, Guangzhou occurrence, in the estimation of fair minded and well-foresighted individuals is riddled with pitfalls capable of engineering visible human tensions.
Yet, it should be acknowledged that there is nothing bracing about such a development as what occured is not something new but a recurring circle.
In the last few years for example, the world has recorded an alarming rise in the Chinese challenge-raging from marginalization to racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and other forms of social exclusions. Understanding this position, can add a vital demension of realism to why Chinese goodness to nations leave the citizens of such nations without goodluck.
And as we focus on the enormous Chinese racial offensive against blacks, there is renewed emphasis the world has to remember. The idea of global partnership and mutual co-existence remain indefinable to China. And, like a boil that can never be cured as long as it is covered up, such mentality must be opened and exposed, to the light of human conscience and the air of global opinion before it can be cured.
For a better understanding of this position, in the context of development and economic exchanges, there is nothing wrong with blacks or African countries exploring the concept of corporation in business, infrastructure and resource development from China- a country that has just experienced a period of economic growth, the likes of which the world had never before seen. And its model, says a report blazes a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernization and offers a new option for other countries and nations who want to speed up their development.
Honestly, what is however, ‘interesting’ is that aside from mountains of evidence which supports the belief that Chinese money; interventions/donations (infrastructural supports) are not wholly unpolitical, global interactions in China’s understanding is often always considered as a space for struggle; the form of struggle that is not limited to opposition, but has to do with control of technology, information, politics and selfishness that penetrates all layers of every human endeavour.
This claim is evident-based and signposted in the latest report titled; China’s expensive bet on Africa has failed, published by Nikkei Asian Review, on Friday 1st May, 2020, which observed that Chinese leaders see Africa mainly as a source of natural resources.
China’s fast-paced growth since the early 1990s has generated a voracious demand for oil and subsoil minerals and Africa appeared a perfect fit since dominant multinationals had a weak hold on the continent and Beijing could easily outbid them to gain equity stakes in mines and oil fields.
For unknown reasons, the report added, the Chinese administration believed that, as an equity holder and creditor, it could better ensure secure access to critical raw materials there. As a result, China has opened its checkbooks and become the most active non-traditional lender in Africa.
According to the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University, China loaned $152 billion to 49 African countries between 2000 and 2018. The World Bank estimates that, as of 2017, the value of China’s loans to sub-Saharan African countries was $64 billion, or more than 60% of the stock of bilateral debt.
In all of the cases, however, it seems safe in my views, to say that China relationship with the world remains opaque. The Guangzhou experience is not the first and eminently manifests the signs of not being the last.
For those who may not understands what the above statement means, it is important to acknowledge, however, that another ill inherent with China’s relationship with the world is their government’s reluctance to appreciate development plans and reform programs from a rights-based perspective. Apart from being ruled, ‘increasingly dictatorially by an unelected communist party that puts people in prison for their convictions and limits all forms of free expressions and associations’, it was in the news that Europe’s biggest powers- Germany, France and the United Kingdom-along with Poland, Spain and the Scandinavian countries, maintain/ believe that China is undermining human rights, democratic ethos, rules and standards. Africa must not lose sight of these real and lasting concerns or allow such lessons go with political winds.
As clarified by the United Nations Independent Expert on the Right to Development, for a programme to be tagged development, it must require a particular process that allows the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, and all fundamental freedoms, by expanding the capabilities and choices of the individual.
Also, as noted in a similar but recent intervention, there is no account that probably did more than anything else to capture the frustrations, disappointments and sins of China against Europe, and will go a long way to convince African leaders to look differently at their relationship with China than the report by two seminal writers, Julianne Smith and Torrey Taussig.
While writing on the well-considered topic; The Old World and The Middle Kingdom-Europe Wakes Up to China’s rise, they noted that Chinese president xi Jinping’s consolidation of power has shaken Germany’s confidence in China’s future political stability. The duo explained that in the name of national security, the Chinese government detained over one million Muslim Uighurs in the western province of Xinjiang in “re-education camp.”
To many in Germany and across Europe, these developments raise troubling questions over what a Chinese-led world would look like.
German industry, the report added, is growing concern about Chinese technological progress. German business leaders who have long supported deeper economic ties with China are now apprehensive about China’s state-led quest for technological supremacy at the expense of German companies. In January, the Federation of German Industries released a widely cited report cautioning companies to reduce their dependence on the Chinese market. Then there is the long-standing issue of Chinese hackers stealing foreign industrial and technological secrets.
Germany is not alone in its awakening.
French president Emmanuel Macron, recently declared an end to ‘‘European naivete’’ on China. Macron also invited Merkel and jean-Claude junker, the president of the European commission, to join his meetings with Xi in order to present a united front. The message was clear: Europe will resist China’s attempts to divide it.
Many European countries are experiencing what one senior EU official described as “China fatigue,” the report noted. These grievances are having a mounting effect on German policy toward China. Merkel, now refers to China as a “systemic competitor.”
Similarly, Several European countries have tightened up their screening of Chinese investments. In 2018, the German government, citing national security, blocked a Chinese investor from buying Leifeld Metal, a leading German producer of metals for the automobile, space, and nuclear industries. It was the first time that the German government had voted a Chinese takeover.
The move was followed by a new law giving the government power to block a non-European investor from buying a ten percent or higher stake (down from 25 percent) in a German business. The law includes media companies, a sign that Germany is worried about Chinese information influence. A number of other European countries have adopted similar measures.
Some European countries have grown disenchanted with china’s behaviour; they have started to push for a more coherent EU wide strategy. A recent EU white paper on china labeled Beijing a “systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance” and called on the EU to pursue a more reciprocal relationship with china and to strengthen its own industrial base.
Finally, though Nigeria’s Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama, has made it clear to the Government of China in no uncertain terms that under no circumstance will we accept racial discrimination against Nigerians or Africans or black people living in China, I hold an opinion that the hour has come for the world to hold China accountable via economic sanctions.
This is a global responsibility.
Jerome-Mario Utomi ([email protected]) writes from Lagos, Nigeria.