Tuesday, November 21, 2006

China in Africa

With the U.S. mired in Iraq, with North Korea still muttering and clutching its pistol, and with the imaginary threat of immigration still consuming the Right here at home, the world keeps turning.

China, for instance, is making a huge play for long-term influence in Africa. James Traub's account of a trip to Angola, one of the world's poorest countries despite $10 billion in oil revenues last year, makes clear that what the West cannot provide, the East may:

The Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, visited Angola over the summer and announced that China had extended another $2 billion to Angola, on top of $1 billion announced a few months earlier and the original $2 billion from 2004. But Angola was only one stop on Wen’s seven-nation tour of Africa. He also announced a series of trade agreements with the Congo Republic, a country just beginning to exploit its oil deposits. China is now one of Africa’s largest customers not only for oil but also for timber, minerals, cotton and other natural resources. China in turn has flooded Africa with cheap consumer goods. The I.M.F. forecasts that China’s trade with Africa will top $50 billion this year and could reach $100 billion by 2010. Over the last five years, sub-Saharan Africa’s growth rate has almost doubled, to 5.8 percent from 3 percent; economists attribute much of the increase to trade with China and other Asian countries.
If you're at all interested in world affairs, in poverty relief and development, or in what the world's going to look like when (if?) we wake up from our long national nightmare, read the piece.