I was hoping that someone here who knows something about politics in Africa could confirm, deny, or otherwise comment on this story from The Mail. There has been some discussion of it on digg, but I'd like to hear from someone who knows more about the situation.
The article claims that "750,000 Chinese have settled in Africa over the past decade" in a concerted effort to strip the continent of all natural wealth, to gain near-exclusive access to its markets, and to use it as overflow space to accomodate Chinese people and pollution.
The article has many alarming claims, like the following:
Massive dams are being built, flooding nature reserves. The land is scarred with giant Chinese mines, with 'slave' labourers paid less than £1 a day to extract ore and minerals.
Pristine forests are being destroyed, with China taking up to 70 per cent of all timber from Africa.
Indeed, the 77-ton arms shipment would have been small beer - a fraction of China's help to Mugabe. He already has high-tech, Chinese-built helicopter gunships and fighter jets to use against his people.
Ever since the U.S. and Britain imposed sanctions in 2003, Mugabe has courted the Chinese, offering mining concessions for arms and currency. ...
According to one veteran diplomat: 'China is easier to do business with because it doesn't care about human rights in Africa - just as it doesn't care about them in its own country. All the Chinese care about is money.'
That last passage made the most lasting impression on me: It is clear that China now has the resources to circumvent any embargo that the West will impose - essentially opening up an exclusive business opportunity for Chinese manufacturers. And I'm sure this is effective as a business strategy: Sell without regard to the human cost, plunder without regard to the environmental cost. The West is not prepared to do this, but allegedly, China is.
So I'm wondering two things: One is whether this is true, or whether it's inflated and out of context. The second is this: If this is true, what can be done about it?