Source:Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Updated: 2014/03/11
China has added a new chapter in international Ties with its infrastructure projects in Mozambique.
If local context is considered, development is possible. This seems to be the new investment strategy for China in Africa, especially in Mozambique. By strategically using globalization opportunities, China has also managed to add a fresh perspective on international relations in Africa, based on its own history and cultural values.
There is no doubt that Beijing is on the lookout for diverse investment opportunities across the globe and Mozambique has been one of the major beneficiaries.
To satisfy its need for raw materials and alternative energy sources, Beijing has mapped out an ambitious investment strategy in Africa. While helping Beijing to access more raw materials, this strategy has also helped several African nations press ahead with development plans.
Though China's ties with Mozambique are based on the principles of bilateral cooperation, involving visits by high-ranking government officials and businesspeople from both sides, the ties have provided both sides with several other advantages.
China's investments have helped Mozambique's reentry to the global market. Bilateral economic ties have surpassed $1 billion, with Mozambique exporting mainly wood and cotton, while China exports manufactured goods.
China is also helping rebuild Mozambique. Infrastructure is one of the major areas in Mozambique that need huge investments. Since 2000, China's intervention has helped rebuild both social and economic infrastructure: hospitals (the Pediatric unit of Beira Central Hospital); Maputo-Ka Tembe Bridge; roads (Maputo Circular Project); houses (Intaka Project); the National Stadium (in Zimpeto); the Joaquim Chissano Conference Centre; a domestic gas distribution system in Maputo; the headquarters of the ministries of foreign affairs, youth, justice, and public administration; and the official residence of the president.
Chinese investment has also helped reduce the political conditions imposed by Western nations on Africa. Though the practice has not been eliminated fully, it has made Western powers a bit more flexible as they know that a new option of both political and economic support for African states is possible.
More importantly, Chinese products have a big role to play in the day-to-day lives of Mozambican citizens, especially products such as mobile phones, televisions, office equipment, cloth and furniture.
Investments have also blossomed with an increasing number of people traveling between the two countries. The number of young students from Mozambique pursuing higher education in China is also steadily increasing. Chinese investment projects have also helped create several employment opportunities for local people.
But not everything is a bed of roses.
Available data on Sino-Mozambican relations are not so clear and accessible to the public as they should be. This opens room for speculation.
Violation of local labor laws is a common complaint against Chinese companies. There have also been instances of Chinese companies involved in the illegal extraction of timber and in other black market activities such as wildlife poaching.
Due to its non-intervention policy, China has also been ignoring most Western-based critical comments on corrupt government officials and bad governance, which opens more room for criticism.
Despite being described as "experts", some Chinese workers involved in construction projects are simple non-skilled people whose single difference is their devotion to hard work. This is still a major concern for local NGOs and also for the labor union.
China has been able to teach Africa that the world is not Eurocentric and there are other viewpoints worthy of consideration. While helping establish improved good governance policies, the West has often failed to strengthen Africa's economic growth.
China's approach looks better suited to realize economic growth in Africa and therefore is the better option for Mozambique to take.
The author is lecturer in Asian studies and Chinese foreign policy at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Maputo, Mozambique.