Limits to the legal framework and implementation problems are, as noted earlier, not the only constraint to developmental Chinese investment. Local conditions are some.times not conducive and this limits the contribution of Chinese firms.
China trade with Africa will continue to grow. More credit for Africa to access natural resources will continue, and China is expected to step up its infrastructure building in Africa. Two-way China-Africa trade is set to increase within the next five years. At the same time, China’s development assistance will increase significantly, while investments in a wide range of African commercial sectors will continue to proliferate.
China’s readiness to support infrastructural development has earned Beijing the sup.port from African politicians who are desperate to show some successes to their elec.torates. China is dispelling the myth that Africa cannot develop. The World Bank and the IMF abandoned supporting infrastructure development on the continent in the 1970s, arguing that it was too expensive. The Chinese role in mineral commodities in Africa is fast changing the landscape of investment in this sector. Southern Africa is the most important region of Africa in terms of Chinese capital investment.
The central challenge for African governments is to ensure that interaction with China is mutually beneficial, both politically and economically. While China bases its policy on friendship and historical solidarity and seeks a “win-win” relationship with Africa, the management of relationships to achieve this is not undemanding. Africa’s chal.lenges in its relations with China seem to be similar to the problems it faces with west.ern investment in its extractive industries.
China has prioritised Africa as a strategic partner at both the political and economic level, but the China-Africa economic relationship is still in its infancy. China’s drive for oil and raw materials has initiated a new scramble for Africa, the long-term implications of which are uncertain. As Christopher Clapham argues “China’s irruption onto the African scene has been the most dramatic and important factor in the external relations of the continent – perhaps in the development of Africa as a whole – since the end of the Cold War.”
This report has argued repeatedly that Chinese investment will not trigger sustained de.velopment unless host countries become more active in legislating to ensure a fit between Chinese resources and local needs, and in ensuring that laws are respected. It has argued that development impact is hampered by local constraints which need to change if the Chinese presence is to be more appropriate to countries’ needs.
The working conditions in Chinese enterprises were a particular cause for concern, and many recommendations were proposed to ensure improvements in these conditions. Many of the recommendations rely on a greater government role, but the need to include worker organisations and to ensure that they have an effective say was also stressed.