by Dish Staff
And that’s what Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry believes is missing from most analyses of China’s involvement in the continent:
For sure, China’s drive into Africa is mainly motivated by natural resources. But this is merely the catalyst of a broader phenomenon, which is really driven by the frustration of so many Chinese with the unbearably stifling and corrupt Chinese system.
From a slow-growth West myopically hypnotized by China’s largely meaningless growth figures (and a bizarre envy of authoritarianism), we don’t actually see China for what it is, which is a very unhealthy society. The limitation on births. The ruthless and ineffective education system, which now no longer provides the jobs it promised. The omnipresent corruption and inflation. The stifling (literally) pollution. No wonder everyone who can is running for the exits.
For Chinese who cannot find advancement or fulfillment in a tottering system, Africa is actually enticing. Chinese are more at home than Westerners in cultures where clientelism (understood non-judgementally as a system where networks of interpersonal reciprocal relations are very important) is more important than legalism, and in Africa they can find a world where opportunities are more available for the taking for the driven and hard-working who are shut-out of the best networks in China. And, of course, we cannot discount the fact that most of the Chinese doing business in Africa are men coming from a country with an increasing shortage of women to a continent where there is not. It is this social phenomenon which is driving China’s scramble for Africa, more than “neo-colonialism” or a mere geopolitical grab for oil and soybean fields.