Naturally, China’s rampant influence in age-old continent, Africa, was met with a barrage of suspicions by the Western world. With its ‘no political strings’ approach, China has made it where the humanitarian West has yet to go. It would be unrealistic to think that a democratic enlightment would come as a result because China has been indifferent to Human Rights of it’s own citizens and any democratic Ideology. In his 2005 article, ‘China’s Rising Role in Africa,” Princeton Lyman quoted China’s deputy foreign minister, Zhou Wenzhong, saying, “Business is business. We try to separate politics from business…. You [the West] have tried to impose a market economy and multiparty democracy on these countries, which are not ready for it. We are also against embargoes, which you have tried to use against us.” From this perspective, the intentions of the Chinese seemed clear. They were there for the scarce resources that were poorly managed by corrupted governments. Meanwhile, judicial and democratic reforms remained elusive to the real owners of the land in spite of the evident improvements in the outdated infrastructure of the continent.
Like a magic wand, the economic superpower waved its checkbook and turned water into wine. These initiatives have overshadowed whatever little progress the West made to discourage totalitarianism and to ultimately instill democratic values. What started in the 1960s as the Tanzania and Zambia railway project has snowballed into a full Chinese infiltration. In fact, China’s stroll around Africa has gotten isolated regimes lined up for a slice of no conditionality heaven one after the other. In the case of Zimbabwe, this slice of heaven meant a sanction and embargo proof environment that empowered a government with little regard for the rights of its people.
Perhaps, Western powers like the US, Russia, and others have every reason to be suspicious. Given China’s economic growth of just over a few decades, the Chinese may have proven that their communist ideals can be successful. Hence, throwing money at totalitarian regimes may have been a strategic geopolitical move, the latest front in the proxy war conundrum. Superpowers no longer need a military presence to maintain colonies; with enough cash to throw around and lucrative arm deals, corrupted governments will oppress and starved their citizens while allowing unlimited access to their country’s natural resources. Most importantly, the Chinese may have planted some seeds of communism in the psyche of African politics. Dictators with enough capital can gain serious influence at the United Nations and can easily dismiss Western ideologies without any serious fear of retaliation. With enormous Chinese contracts and weaponry, there is little incentive for African leaders to promote western philosophical ideals.