China becoming a global leader in African exploitation
With Michael Ignatieff set to lead the Liberal party into the new year, it's safe to say that foreign policy will find itself firmly entrenched in the Liberal party`s agenda.
Of particular interest should be Ignatieff`s stance on China. In 2006, Ignatieff criticized Stephen Harper for the Prime Minister`s criticism of China.
Among other things, Ignatieff hailed reductions in Chinese poverty as an erstwhile human rights triumph.
"You have to give them credit for a fact not enough Canadians, I think, recognize which is over the last 10 years, the most important human-rights advance in the world has been the hundreds of millions of Chinese lifted out of absolute poverty," he mused.
Yet one can`t help but wonder how Ignatieff might have reacted to some of China's activities abroad, particularly in Africa:
It seems China is turning back the clock on colonialism. The country that was once the most sought-after Colony among all European countries is all grown up, and ready to do some exploiting of its own.
Among raw materials, China is also pursuing African oil. The Beijing government is pursuing oil through a collection of exploration and development deals, and reciprocal trade deals coupled with foreign aid packages.
China`s efforts in Africa has them active in countries like Equitorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola, the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In the latter two cases -- one of which, Sudan, is currently the subject of considerable human rights-related outcry -- the Chinese are involved in countries with ongoing civil conflicts.
Inevitably, China's activities in the DRC will favour the Congolese government over the rebel National Congress for the Defense of the People. As in the Sudan, the Chinese are taking sides in a civil conflict.
If anything, China's activities in Africa -- energy-related and otherwise -- demonstrate that communism is all but officially dead in China. Now, it has learned to exploit the developing world just as stringently as western states and multinational corporations have.
The mess -- both in terms of environmental devestation and human suffering -- being left in China's wake poses a definite question mark on Ignatieff's insistence that reduction in Chinese poverty is a human rights triumph.
Especially when one considers the cost.