Expert disputes 'China colonizing Africa'

Updated: 2011-12-20 20:14


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BEIJING - A Chinese expert on African studies has argued against some Western media reports claiming China has been colonizing Africa, stating that Sino-African cooperation has long been mutually beneficial.

"Frankly, China is not Santa Claus sending gifts to Africa, but it's also not colonizing like some Western media have said... Sino-African cooperation has long been in accordance with the principle of mutual benefit," Liu Haifang, professor with the African Studies Center of Peking University, was quoted by Tuesday's Legal Daily as saying.

Liu's remarks came amid mounting criticism from Western countries over Sino-African relations. Some Western media, quoting European and American scholars, have claimed China was responsible for "the new surgical colonialism" in Africa. "Surgical colonialism" refers to resource extraction by a foreign power that involves a minimum of local disruption.

According to Liu, China National Petroleum Corporation and Sudan's Ministry of Energy and Mining jointly established Khartoum Refinery Company Limited in 2000, which freed Sudan from having to spend huge amounts on buying refined oil. The refinery is now the most advanced and largest of its kind in Sudan as well as China's largest modern refinery overseas.

Figures show that the company irrigated 40,000 square kilometers of deserted grasslands with water reprocessed through its wastewater treatment system. In the past 10 years, the company donated a total of $32.28 million as charity funds that have supported more than 1.5 million residents.

Liu also cited China's infrastructure cooperation with Angora, a country ravaged by conflict that persisted for 20 years before ending in 2002.

In November 2003, China's Ministry of Commerce and Angora's Ministry of Finance signed an agreement on economic and financial cooperation.

"Five years later, most of the infrastructure facilities in the country had been rebuilt," said Liu.

Figures show that China imported $22.4 billion in goods from Angora in 2008, while the country's exports to Angora stood at $2.9 billion.