“The Chinese are the new boers!” screamed a May Day rally poster in last night’s CNN webcast from South Africa’s resource heartland.
Hundreds of thousands of workers have downed tools in the mining and financial services industries over the past week and the strikes don’t look like they will end any time soon.
Reminiscent of the Tibetan uprisings that started in 2008 the Chinese in Southern Africa are now being blamed for ‘stealing the local culture’ and for ‘economic imperialism’ – hence the rhetorical links to the apartheid era and British colonial exploitation and influence in the previous century.
Chinese firms now dominate mining and financial services in Southern Africa, after a slow insidious process that started across Africa in the early 2000s to get China control over a wide variety of resources to supply its heady growth rate.
Undoubtedly Chinese funds have helped build roads, railways, hospitals and schools but citizens of South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia now feel the price they have had to pay, and the freedoms lost, are simply not worth it.
This comes at a bad time for China as growth has stalled and wars with Tibet and Taiwan continue to simmer at an internationally unacceptable level.
Now, there are fears that China may play “a typical US card” (as per today’s EU summit) and invade Taiwan and Tibet – all in the interests of shoring up its own failing economy.
Tomorrow’s UN Security Council meeting has only this one item on its agenda.