Twofish's Blog

March 22, 2007

China and Africa

Filed under: africa, china — twofish @ 6:26 pm 

The problem is that if you don’t look at consequences and just look at motives, you might end up with a situation which is worse than if you had done nothing.

Also, there is a hidden message in attaching strings which is that Western countries are basically saying that they know how to run African countries better than the Africans do, and that is just not true.  Westerners like to think of themselves as wise teachers, but people in the West know little about what it takes to develop a country because no one really knows what it takes to develop a country.  Ignorance is not a problem.  It’s ignorance of ignorance that is dangerous.

If you deal with someone from a point of view of self-interest, there is an implied amount of respect.  I’m working with you for my self-interest, you have to look out for yourself, and I trust that you can handle your own affairs better than I can.

China’s intentions in Africa are largely selfish, and there is a refreshing amount of honesty in that.  The other interesting thing is sometimes the selfish thing turns out to be the right thing to do, whereas the altruistic thing turns out to be the wrong thing to do.

The problem with pretending that your interests are other than what they are is that it just makes things more complex.  The trouble with altruism is that altruism has its limits.  To raise Africa to first world standards of living is going to take tens of trillions of dollars of investment and at least a century.  That sort of investment is not going to come via altruism.

The other problem with trying to run someone else’s life and politics is that you get sick of it and leave long before anything useful happens.  The story of African development is going to be one that lasts at least a hundred years, and it is going to be one that is largely written by the Africans.  If you are an outsider, you have the option of packing up and going home once you find out how difficult things are going to be.  If someplace is your home, you don’t have that option, and you are going to be intent on making it better because you don’t have any other choice.


1 Comment »

  1. If you think there is nothing wrong with Chinese intentions in Africa, you haven’t seen Zim lately.

    Comment by Peanut Butter — April 20, 2008 @ 12:07 pm

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