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Critics of China-Africa relations 'not objective'

Updated: 2013-03-27 00:11
By Andrew Moody and Zhao Yanrong in Johannesburg ( China Daily)

Critics of China-Africa relations 'not objective'

Western critics of the China-Africa relationship are often guilty of superficial research and a lack of objectivity, according to a leading South African academic.

Garth Shelton, a professor of international relations at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, said many use terms such as "neo-colonial" without thinking.

"It is often based on a lack of research. There are a lot of academics who subscribe to the idea the China-Africa relationship has negative consequences," he said.

"When you ask them for specifics, they have nothing to add. They are just repeating a general viewpoint: We need to work harder to assess this relationship."

The new links between China and Africa are certainly one of the defining geo-political relationships of the last decade.

Trade between China and Africa increased more than tenfold, from $18.54 billion in 2003 to $200 billion in 2012.

China's stock of overseas investment on the continent has increased similarly from just $1.6 billion in 2005 to $13.04 billion at the end of 2010, according to China's National Bureau of Statistics.

This has been evidenced by Chinese-built hospitals, airports, ports and other infrastructure facilities right across the continent.

Even the gleaming new $124 million African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, was not only built by Chinese workers but was a gift to the African people.

Yet China is continually accused of operating a resources grab on the continent, acquiring oil and much-needed iron ore and copper to fuel its own economic growth.

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