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Psst, Tim, it would catch more eyes if you claim China engineered the financial crisis

November 27th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I just found out, via Andrew Sullivan’s blog, that Tim Butcher had penned a rather interesting article at the Prospect Magazine accusing China for provoking a new cycle of violence in Congo. Now, before people jump up and throw charges at me (i.e., you are being super sensitive again!), I just want to say that I am only sharing this with you for amusement. Really.

Many tribal groups across the country are resentful of the ruling elite in Kinshasa. These resentments have been exacerbated by jealousies over vast contracts recently signed between China and the government of President Joseph Kabila. Anger has focused on the likelihood of Kabila and his inner circle, from his base in the southern province of Katanga, skimming off vast sums from these opaque deals.

The appetite of China’s economy has created tension across Africa, with Chinese businessmen willing to spend vast sums for scarce raw materials. Countries like Zambia or Sierra Leone, long used to relying on aid, have found themselves with unprecedented revenues. Details of the contracts, and lucrative bribes and backhanders, are scant. But the scale became clear when, two years ago, China promised Congo $5bn in exchange for rights to much of its copper, cobalt, tin and other minerals.

This massive cash pot has stirred up the disenfranchised masses in Congo’s regions who won’t see a penny from Kinshasa as things stand. It has also inspired the Tutsi-influenced rebels of the Kivus, led by General Laurent Nkunda, whose insurgency is designed to force Kabila to share the spoils.

[and this articles ends with] Nor should guilt about the results of our colonial scramble for Africa more than a century ago prevent us criticising the Chinese for provoking a new cycle of violence.

So the moral of the story from Tim Butcher is: Let’s continue to keep all people in Congo in abject poverty so that they would kill each other at a slower pace.

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  1. Wukailong
    November 27th, 2008 at 06:53 | #1

    Then there’s this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7747815.stm

    There might be more than one reason this was placed under the Entertainment section. 😉 That either BBC or the CCP pays any attention to this shows that something is wrong, somewhere.

  2. Charles Liu
    November 27th, 2008 at 07:18 | #2

    Oh pleeze, a century ago? The conflict we see today is the consquences of post-colonial American power in Africa.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Covert_U.S._regime_change_actions#Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo_1960

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Darfur+John+Garang+Fort+Benning

    I too find it amusing to see how anyone can blame this on China with a straight face, when the we in West have repeatedly failed Africa over the years.

    How do you say “Happy Thanksgiving” in Congolese?

  3. Stinky Tofu
    November 27th, 2008 at 07:25 | #3

    Yet another disappointing post from the increasingly insipid folks at BFC. With so much other interesting and important China-related news out there, this is the topic you choose to blog about? Seriously guys, BFC is hardly worth checking out anymore. What’s wrong? No more Tibetan riots and torch relay protests to get your patriotic blood boiling? No more Olympics to look forward to? For about two months earlier in the year, you were interesting. Sadly, you now specialize in drivel. FOOL’s Mountain indeed.

  4. Wukailong
    November 27th, 2008 at 08:34 | #4

    @Charles Liu: I think you will find that many conflicts in Africa isn’t just a question of “the West” but a Cold War thing. Also, if the West indeed created a lot of chaos in Africa, that doesn’t mean China wouldn’t be able to do the same, would it?

  5. November 27th, 2008 at 11:02 | #5

    It is ridiculous. When he says: “Countries like Zambia or Sierra Leone, long used to relying on aid, have found themselves with unprecedented revenues”, he makes it sound like it is regrettable. After all, they were just fine relying on aid, now they are actually going to have to WORK for the chinese.

    There are so many Chinese policies begging to be criticized that I just can’t understand how journalists go and pick on one of the few good ones.

    NOTE, I am not saying that China’s actions in Africa are perfect. The article has some good points.

    What I am saying is just that, as a general rule, investing in a country and building infrastructure for it is the best way to draw it out of misery. China itself started its rise in the 70s thanks to FDIs “exploiting” local workers.

    China is building more infrastructure now in Africa than all the Western powers have since the colonial times. Infrastructure is one of the few assets that corrupt officials cannot strip and sell, and if those African populations are a bit careful not to kill each every time, they can reap enormous long term benefits from these investments.

  6. BMY
    November 27th, 2008 at 11:07 | #6

    @Stinky Tofu,

    People might like to read your interesting post and why don’t you put up one?

  7. TonyP4
    November 27th, 2008 at 15:36 | #7

    China has influences. When China cuts rate 1 point, oil is up 7%. So are most mineral prices such as copper price, global stock markets in general… 10 years ago, it would not happen. No matter what she does, she will be criticized or praised.

    China canceled the EU-China summit as a protest to French president’s friendly gesture towards DL. Also, there is a rumore about canceling the big airbus order. Is Tibet (a China problem to me) worth the EU trade with China?

    China’s policy in Africa has more benefits than harms. It is like teaching them how to fish than giving them a fish – one lasts for one meal and one for life.

  8. Jerry
    November 29th, 2008 at 02:16 | #8

    @CHINAYOUREN #5

    Nice chest-beating imitation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan. To me, your response is just more Chinese propaganda.

    Africa is the locus of many sad tales, tales of woe and cautionary tales. From the Belgians in Congo, the American slave trade, the British in Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe and Ghana, the Italians in Tunisia, Eritrea and Somalia, the Spanish in Morocco, Eq. Guinea and Western Sahara, the French in Morroco, Algeria, Senegal, Djibouti, Cote d’Ivoire and Chad (amongst many countries), the Germans in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania, The Dutch in South Africa, Dutch Royal Shell in Nigeria, the Portugese in Angola and Mozambique, the CIA-USAID-World Bank in Africa, etc., the list is long. Take advantage of some poor country, bribe the country’s leaders and rape their natural resources. And while you are at it, abuse, emiserate, terrorize and exploit the people. Africa was and still is, for the most part, merely a place to exploit.

    So, CYR, I have some questions.

    It is ridiculous. When he says: “Countries like Zambia or Sierra Leone, long used to relying on aid, have found themselves with unprecedented revenues”, he makes it sound like it is regrettable. After all, they were just fine relying on aid, now they are actually going to have to WORK for the chinese.

    What a thrill it must be for the Africans to work for China! How munificent, magnanimous and benevolent of you. I have no wish for people to live on the dole. So just what will the noble Chinese pay these people for their labor? What will the working conditions be? How will their lives be improved? How much has China paid in bribes to the great leaders of Zambia, Congo and Sierra Leone?

    There are so many Chinese policies begging to be criticized that I just can’t understand how journalists go and pick on one of the few good ones.

    Perhaps, these journalists are trying to proactively prevent just another “raping” of the population of Africa? China turns a blind eye towards the people of Darfur. Just like those crass, evil, greedy bastards at Royal Dutch Shell towards the Nigerian people. Congratulations on joining Shell’s league.

    What I am saying is just that, as a general rule, investing in a country and building infrastructure for it is the best way to draw it out of misery. China itself started its rise in the 70s thanks to FDIs “exploiting” local workers.

    As a rule, investing in a country and building infrastructure is great. Just what infrastructure is China building for the local residents? I suspect that this great infrastructure building, which you tout, is that which is necessary for the extraction of the countries’s resources.

    China is building more infrastructure now in Africa than all the Western powers have since the colonial times.

    Oh, yeah? Do you have any credible substantiation, evidence and citations for this claim on your part? Pardon me if I say that sounds like propagandic claptrap.

    Currently, your claims sound specious at best, mendacious at worst. What credible substantiation, evidence and citations do you have for your presently unwarranted claims?

    Americans have also made such propagandic claims in Africa, Asia, South America, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, etc. The euphemism used for that propaganda is spin and PR. Historians have a technical term for it. Lies!

    Infrastructure is one of the few assets that corrupt officials cannot strip and sell, and if those African populations are a bit careful not to kill each every time, they can reap enormous long term benefits from these investments.

    How condescending of you. But not surprising. Colonial powers, of which China appears to be a member now, have raped and destabilized African countries for centuries. With impunity. Then, after having extracted the resources, they pack up and leave. “It is all yours now!” They leave the mess and instability they have created to a people who have been relegated to a mere day-to-day quest for survival. I fully expect China to do the same. I have no reason to expect differently.

  9. November 29th, 2008 at 02:41 | #9

    My personal view – Dr. Livingstone’s memorial in Westminster Abbey (let us hear nothing of Henry Stanley, the man was a murderous freebooter) wishes God’s mercy on any person that helps Africa – to me this is the important thing. Africa now is a running sore on the face of modern ‘civilisation’, and anything in the way of investment, trade, aid, or otherwise that helps the people of Africa can only be a good thing – no matter where it comes from.

  10. Jerry
    November 29th, 2008 at 03:22 | #10

    @FOARP #9

    Dr. Livingstone’s memorial in Westminster Abbey (let us hear nothing of Henry Stanley, the man was a murderous freebooter) wishes God’s mercy on any person that helps Africa …

    God bless Dr. Livingstone’s sentiment. That has been a mantra which has been around for centuries. I am not so sure that China is aiding or helping Africa by its investments.

    Perhaps it is time to leave the anachronistic mantra behind and elevate our thinking. That would be a nice advancement.

    Here is one of my favorite quotes from Einstein, “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” Right on, Albert. I resonate with that.

  11. Ted
    November 29th, 2008 at 04:46 | #11

    @TonyP4 #7: “China has influences…. No matter what she does, she will be criticized or praised.”

    It’s nice to hear comments like that. Sounds familiar 🙂

  12. Wukailong
    November 29th, 2008 at 07:48 | #12

    @TonyP4: “China canceled the EU-China summit as a protest to French president’s friendly gesture towards DL. Also, there is a rumore about canceling the big airbus order. Is Tibet (a China problem to me) worth the EU trade with China?”

    Well, what this shows is that economy isn’t everything for either of the sides. Both sides use ideology as carrot and stick. Japan have lost projects to Western countries because of their PM visiting the Yasukuni shrine.

    More and more, it’s hard to say whether a problem is national or international (for example, China problem). There seems to be a consensus that countries shouldn’t generally interfere with other’s “internal affairs”, but this clearly doesn’t hold for Israel/Palestine, or South Africa, from any side. In no case have I heard people mentioning these problems and natural sovereignty in the same discussion (however, with Iraq, Iran and Sudan such discussions are common).

    I’m not saying what’s right or wrong here, just that both sides use double standards as it suits them.

  13. shel
    November 29th, 2008 at 14:26 | #13

    There are too many McCathy wanabe in western media nowadays. They want a culprit to blame for loosing their money and perpectural prosperity.
    Forget about those racists and work with other people in the real world.
    As for African, they need money just like everyone else. It is up to them to learn how to use it to their advantage. They have eye and ears like everyone else, if they can’t find their way in the west, they should try to find it in the east.

  14. November 29th, 2008 at 16:49 | #14

    @Jerry #8

    Hello, Jerry. Take it easy. I am glad I remind you of a sexy chestbeating jungleman, but no need to get so excited about it. Here is my answer, I will just go to what I think are the 2 main points:

    1- INFRASTRUCTURE
    About the size of the investment: I don’t have the time now to look for “substantiation, evidence and citations”. Admittedly, my statement might not be accurate today, give it 5 years more and it will be. But geez man, that was a comment on a blog, not a paper for Harvard. I suggest you write a post yourself proving your points instead of wasting time with the synonyms dictionary, writing:

    your claims sound specious at best, mendacious at worst. etc.

    I will give you credit and admit my error if you do it.

    2- COLONAL POWERS vs CHINA IN AFRICA
    China is NOT a colonial power in Africa. There is a slight difference between invading a country by force to declare it your colony, and coming peacefully to do business. If you can’t see the difference you are too blind or too bitter to look.

    Of course, China’s motivations are selfish, I never said China was there to save the world. But at least they are more straightforward than Westerners. They don’t arrive with big banners of Democracy or Religion. They are there to do business, and if Africans are smart enough they will not miss this golden opportunity to develop their countries. Is this condescending? No, it is not. Check your dictionary again. Condescending is to treat the Africans as if they needed permanent assistance and couldn’t do anything by themselves.

    As a conclusion. I worked in development agencies (not in Africa) for quite a long time before my present job, and I always had this frustration: No matter how large development programs are, they are only a grain of sand in the sea. It is by looking at China’s rise from misery that many people, including me, have started to realize that a country can not develop without FDIs coming in. Including the “exploiting” FDIs.

    Having said this, I completely support people fighting for Human Rights in Darfur or elsewhere, and I wish China will have these issues more present in the future. Politics, no. Human Rights, yes. But let’s give China some time to show what she can do, this country is changing fast and I sincerely believe that sooner or later the question of Human Rights will be addressed, both internally and in foreign affairs.

  15. TonyP4
    November 29th, 2008 at 20:17 | #15

    It is funny that Russia is the major supplier of weapons/air fighters to Sudan, and nobody bothers them. So are India, Iran… Even the west and US’s weapons eventually end up in Sudan. There is a double standard for human right groups.

  16. bt
    November 29th, 2008 at 22:10 | #16

    I think the point that the author was trying to make (not DJ, Tim Butcher) was about the redistribution of wealth in Africa.
    These countries are unfortunately plagued with tribalism, which means that the clan/family/ethnic group in power tends to keep the money for himself.
    All the countries that have been trading in Africa are equally very hypocritical, I would say.
    The problem is that the other groups in this case tend to form rebel organizations and try to seize the political power. So, there is no reasons to think that the Chinese trade in Africa will lead to other results.
    I heard recently that in the south of Sudan some Chinese workers have been killed by rebels … that’s a good example.

    I agree with Youren, we should wait for a while and see what are the results of the Chinese policies on the continent…. my pick is that it is just another form of exploitation.

  17. bt
    November 29th, 2008 at 22:11 | #17

    @ Ted # 11

    Agreed 🙂
    Just for that, you must say thank you to China 🙂

  18. Jerry
    November 30th, 2008 at 02:44 | #18

    @CHINAYOUREN #14
    @bt #16

    Thanks for your reply, CYR.

    When you say, “China is building more infrastructure now in Africa than all the Western powers have since the colonial times”, it sounded like chestbeating to me. That was why I asked the questions. And you replied, “Admittedly, my statement might not be accurate today, give it 5 years more and it will be.” ::chuckle chuckle:: Maybe I can borrow your “crystal ball” sometime. 😀

    You ask for proof from me. Well, I did not make the claim about China’s building of infrastructure. You did. Regarding my writing, I will waste my time as I see fit. 😀 Thanks for your wonderful, caring suggestion, nonetheless. 😀 LOL

    Africa has been used, manipulated and abused for centuries; its proximity to Europe and trade routes made it very appealing to the colonial powers. China has a much different history to that of African nations. So, what works in China may not necessarily work in Africa. Maybe FDIs work in China, maybe not in Africa? Nothing currently causes me to believe that the outcome will be different this time.

    China is not a colonial power in the manner of the Europeans and Americans. But it is an economic colonial power. Massive disproportionality in power of any type, be it military or economic, tends to lead to colonialism. In previous posts at FM I have identified poverty as economic slavery.

    Your definition of condescending is your definition. Your comment, “… if those African populations are a bit careful not to kill each every time” seems a tad arrogant and condescending. Especially in the light of most sub-Saharan Africans’ struggle to survive on a day-to-day basis.

    I read an excellent book on life in Togo. It was George Packer’s, “The Village of Waiting”. It made me simultaneously feel sick to my stomach and grateful for what I have. I sent my daughter to Ghana on a medical mission when she was an undergraduate (she is currently a surgeon in her first year of residency). Her pictures and descriptions are still so vivid in my memory.

    One thing which sticks out in my mind is that many of the young people she met quickly became her friend. When she was getting ready to come back to the US, many of her new-found friends hit her up for money and presents (she had been forewarned about this). They got angry when she did not give them money and gifts. In my own way, I understand this behavior. You do what you have to do to survive.

    I don’t have any solutions or answers for Africa. George Packer did not have any solutions. Tim Butcher does not have any answers. I always remember the biblical entreaty, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for his life.” Well, for this to work, there have to be fish. Colonial powers have stripped so much of the resources of Africa. I fear that the Chinese outcome will be just another one of many sorrowful legacies for Africa.

    So when you ask for time, I ask why?

    #16

    bt, I agree that all countries trading in Africa have been and are hypocritical. And I am always concerned about redistribution of the new-found wealth, which is part of the on-going African tragedy.

    The problem is that the other groups in this case tend to form rebel organizations and try to seize the political power. So, there is no reasons to think that the Chinese trade in Africa will lead to other results.
    I heard recently that in the south of Sudan some Chinese workers have been killed by rebels … that’s a good example.

    I agree with Youren, we should wait for a while and see what are the results of the Chinese policies on the continent…. my pick is that it is just another form of exploitation.

    I wholeheartedly agree with these comments, with one exception. I just don’t think that the thinking has changed or will change. So why should we wait a while? The Chinese policies will produce the same outcome: exploitation.

    Going back to Einstein (It is like going to the well one more time. ::LOL:: ), “The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” We are still trapped in Fritjof Capra’s “crisis of perception”. So I guess I will keep looking for those universes in which the level of thinking has advanced, in which we can see life more on the level of theoretical phycisists, and conversations like this are needless. The great adventure. 😀

    BTW, bt, I saw this out at Butcher’s article. It struck a chord with me. The comparison is uncanny.

    The fact that Rwanda supplies weapons, ammunition, manpower and communications to Nkundu’s rebels is one of Africa’s worst kept secrets. The west turns a blind eye, seeing Rwanda through the frame of events in 1994, when 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by Hutu extremists. Against such a background, the now Tutsi-controlled government of Rwanda can do no wrong.

    But Rwanda is the Israel of central Africa, a country forged through suffering, with a far superior military to its neighbours and influence across the Great Lakes region. Our outsiders’ sense of guilt for 1994 should not stop us from criticising it for fomenting the current violence. Nor should guilt about the results of our colonial scramble for Africa more than a century ago prevent us criticising the Chinese for provoking a new cycle of violence.

    Scary. African Zionism. Oy vey. Oy gevalt. When does this all stop?

  19. wuming
    November 30th, 2008 at 03:54 | #19

    For those of you who condemn China’s African policy, what is your alternative proposal?

    Leave everything to the NGOs?

    Preserve the continent in an anthropological mason jar to be observed? “See how the natives can dance!”

    Wait until the West get over its “guilt” and then “save” Africa properly?

    There are so many layers of hypocrisy, it defies even satire.

  20. Charles Liu
    November 30th, 2008 at 04:57 | #20

    TonyP4, “Russia is the major supplier of weapons”.

    You said it. And where are the Russian mobs like Victor Bout running guns from?

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Victor+Bout+Sudan+Texas+Florida

    Would you believe it, out of Texas and Florida, often siphoned from US military arms shipment to Iraq, which was also contracted to Victor Bout.

  21. November 30th, 2008 at 07:11 | #21

    @Jerry#18

    Hi, thanks for the reply. I don’t know why in this forum I always end up stuck in heated African discussions, when the fact is I know little of that country continent, and I have never been to Sub-Saharan Africa.

    I actually think Butcher’s article was overall a good read. But what annoys many people in China is the way Western writers like him make sweeping statements such as:”China’s grab for Congo’s mineral wealth is behind the current wave of fighting”. And then they put those statements right on the title to get some attention.

    Well excuse me Mr. Butcher, but fighting in Africa was there long before the Chinese arrived, and Chinese buying raw materials in Africa are only doing their job. No more and no less. They are buying the rights to some resources that are owned by the country, and so the normal procedure is to buy them from the government. Now, if the government is corrupt and illegitimate, and if it employs those resources to hurt its own population, that is a different problem which has complex sources. But it is not a problem that China created.

    I suggest you try these alternative titles to see if they sound fair: “You filling the tank in your car is behind the current wave of fighting”, “Your wife buying a diamond ring is behind the current wave of fighting”, “Your kids using toys made in China is behind the current wave of fighting”. These statements follow the same logic as the title.

    Regarding the investment in infrastructures bigger than Western: I read this info somewhere and I can’t remember where. The point is China is investing in railways, roads, etc. on a massive scale, this you can check easily on many mainstream sources.

    Africa’s problems are very complex, and certainly FDI in itself is not going to solve them. I see FDI as a necessary but not sufficient condition. As for the rest of the necessary conditions and how to achieve them, I will leave this discussion to people that know more than I.

  22. NWO?
    November 30th, 2008 at 08:54 | #22

    #20

    NWO?

  23. bt
    November 30th, 2008 at 12:38 | #23

    @ wuming

    “For those of you who condemn China’s African policy, what is your alternative proposal?”
    Excellent question.

    The alternative proposal would be everybody to be nice and responsible, but we know that we are not living in a perfect world where everybody is super nice.
    The solution is that the Africans defend their interests by themselves and together.
    The other countries won’t help, of course.

  24. bt
    November 30th, 2008 at 14:09 | #24

    @ Jerry

    Well, I think DJ and Youren are right when they say that the journalist is going too far.
    A pity, cos’ some of his points are perfectly valid.

    I remember one day a guy from Benin told somewhere (forgot, sorry) that there is more Beninese doctors in Paris than in all Benin … WTF? Talk about brain drain…
    BTW, I don’t have the figures, but it is very likely that the main economical partner of Africa is not China, but the EU.
    I would say that everybody is responsible of the mess: EU, China, USA (yes, Charles, even USA) and all these shameless African leaders Kagame-like. It will change only when Africans will say ‘enough is enough’. Right now, I think we can wait for a long time before the ‘Great Game’ Kipling-style stops.
    However, I have met quite a lot of African people (both in Europe and in China) and they are not stupid at all … they know very well what’s going on.
    bt says ‘When Africa will wake up, the world will tremble’.

  25. shel
    November 30th, 2008 at 16:35 | #25

    Western life style must not and could not be duplicate in Africa. There is just not enough resources for the world population to live that kind of wastefull living. Its better to recognize this and look for one that is sustainable.
    The west can afford that because there were “new world” for them to exploit in the 19th century.

  26. Wukailong
    December 1st, 2008 at 01:59 | #26

    I agree with the last poster that the Western life style is probably not sustainable in the long run – but the question is how to make people accept that. If you ask the typical Indian or Chinese about their goal in life, you will probably get a very “Western” answer – to have a good job, a nice house (that you bought yourself) and possibly a car. Foodwise, people are likely to want more meat, another strain on an already shaky environmental foundation.

    However, there are some things I think China can do better, and the clue is not to look too closely at the US. Invest more in public transportation (this is being done). Create better rental markets and regulatory bodies for housing (it’s very uncommon in any country that everybody owns their own housing). Invest heavily in and cooperate with other countries on solar/wind energy.

    In the end it’s not so much about Western or Eastern, but whether the capitalist system is sustainable in the long run.

  27. Jerry
    December 1st, 2008 at 05:44 | #27

    @Wukailong #26
    @Shel #25

    WKL, I agree with shel in #25, too. As I wrote in #305 at http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/11/14/tibet-turning-over-a-new-page/, the whole world is in deep trouble now and living under a Damoclean sword.

    Now, let’s talk globally about biocapacity versus ecological footprint.

    Ecological footprint versus the Earth’s biocapacity are very abstract terms. Here is the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) definition: Ecological Footprint (EF) measures the amount of biologically productive land and water area required to produce the resources an individual, population, or activity consumes and to absorb the waste they generate, given prevailing technology and resource management. The Earth’s biocapacity (BC) is the amount of biologically productive area – cropland, pasture, forest, and fisheries – that is available to meet humanity’s needs. Demand vs. Supply.

    In 1961, Earth’s population was 3.08 billion people. Ecological Footprint (EF) was 4.5 billion global hectares (gha) versus Biocapacity (BC) of 9 billion gha. A 50% surplus of BC. By 2003, the population was 6.3 billion people. Ecological Footprint (EF) was 14.1 billion gha versus Biocapacity (BC) of 11.2 billion gha. EF has overshot BC by 25%. Essentially, what we have is “deficit spending.” On a global basis.

    In 2003, the US, with a population of 294 million, had an EF of 9.6 gha per person and BC of 4.7 gha per person. Japan, with 127 million, had an EF of 4.4 gha per person and BC of 0.7 gha per person. China, with 1.311 billion, had an EF of 1.6 gha per person and BC of 0.5 gha per person.

    In 2008, WWF did a follow-up report on Asia and China. From 1961 to 2003, China, Japan, the EU, and USA showed significant growth in the overshoot of biocapacity.

    The whole world has overshot the biocapacity of the planet by 25%. And it is getting worse by the year since then.

    The US has overshot its biocapacity by around 105%. Japan has overshot by around 525%. China has overshot by around 220%. The EU has a surplus of 15%.

    If we continue our growing rate of overconsumption, destroying the natural systems which provide biocapacity, we will eventually collapse our global ecosystems. “Katy, bar the door” at that point.

    I have written about this a lot here at FM and elsewhere. While, I enjoy the other conversations here, like this discussion on Africa, they will all be trivial, esoteric and moot in the light of an impending ecosystem collapse.

    WKL, you point at the capitalist system. I would also point at irresponsible consumerism. I would also point at overpopulation (Yes, I know that this is the proverbial, figurative third rail, but it is the elephant in the room).

    BTW, I am a vegetarian; I am not a vegan. That is one of the reasons I moved to Taipei. This is a great country for a vegetarian. I earlier wrote at FM about the difference between a vegetarian diet and a carnivorous diet. (I am sure that this will absolutely thrill some of the people here. 😀 )

    “However, according to one study, a meat-based diet requires 9 acres per person! A diet that is primarily plant-based (with some milk, cheese, and eggs) requires 3/4 of an acre.
    (http://www.energyfarms.net/node/1490)”

  28. Jerry
    December 1st, 2008 at 06:31 | #28

    @CHINAYOUREN #21
    @bt #24

    Well, Tim was not my motivation for writing. I rarely pay much attention to quoted links. Sorry, DJ. And I rarely read headlines of articles, CYR. I went back and read the article after I posted.

    You are right, CYR, Africa was and is a mess. That was one of my major points in my post.

    I briefly googled infrastructure. Not a lot of info which is readily accessible. China’s IF spending peaked in 2006. Still, overall, previous and current Western IF spending exceeds China’s

    As bt pointed out in #24, EU and US are the leading economic partners with Africa. China is #3.

    Regarding FDI in Africa, we all must be more responsible. China’s environmental destruction is a cautionary tale of allowing other countries and multinational corporations to move their pollution and environmental disasters off-shore to China. Wasn’t that a marvelous way to reduce labor costs and the costs of proper environmental controls, all the while feeding their voracious, unsustainable appetites? Sure China benefitted economically, but what a Faustian bargain.

    Hopefully, we can learn. How much longer can we afford to trash this Earth before life becomes unsustainable on this planet?

    Regarding doctors from Benin, how can we fault anyone who wants a better life? Like you, I have met many very intelligent Africans who are very aware of what is happening in Africa and the world.

  29. Jerry
    December 1st, 2008 at 08:28 | #29

    Corrections on several figures in #27

    China
    EF is 1.6 gha per person
    BC is 0.8 gha per person
    overshoot is 100%

    EU
    EF is 4.8 gha per person
    BC is 2.2 gha per person
    overshoot is 118%

    bt and WKL, sorry for exciting you needlessly.

  30. TonyP4
    December 1st, 2008 at 17:50 | #30

    Jerry, I use farm land per capita over your BC. It is easier for my low education/IQ to understand. I forgot this no. for China now, but it is far lower than the average.

    Africa has a long way to go. The educated ones who can help move elsewhere to seek a better life. Who wants to live in poor living conditions? China has some ‘return turtles’ due to the government financial effort to lure them back. Hope Africans can follow same.

    Railroad is the greenest transportation. It is the best return for investment. High Speed Rail should replace air transportation in cities within a certain distance. The transportation of high-quality coal from North East will be reduced with the expansion of the national grid and strategically located non-coal generators. A lot China is doing to help the environment but a lot can be done.

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