A GROUP of academics at the Lagos State University (LASU) on Tuesday stressed the need for African leaders to strategically engage Chinese investors on the continent.
Speaking on the seminar’s topic, “Does China’s presence in Africa mean colonisation?”, a lecturer in the Department of Political Science, Tobi Oshodi, said the continent should look beyond the immediate benefits of the Chinese presence in Africa and devise means through which young Africans could learn Chinese technology to wean the continent off dependence on foreign technical know-how.
Oshodi urged African leaders to be sensitive to the activities of Chinese investors because the West had already alleged that China was on an exploitative mission on the continent.
Scholars at the seminar differed on the Chinese motive on the continent. Some argued that China came to Africa to modernise it while others stated that the country’s move was informed by the “needs theory.”
Drawing from Western powers’ activities in Africa, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Dr. Ayo Omotayo, argued that no country had been great without colonising others.
Omotayo said since investors were only motivated by profit, the question as to what the motive of the Chinese coming to Africa is “is superfluous.”
He said since an average Nigerian that went to Ghana to do business was motivated by profit rather than love for that country, an average Chinese investor should be seen in that light too.
“The only way to deal with them is by learning the means they use to modernise,” he stated.
According to Dr. Sylvester Odion Akhaine, who described the average African view on China as ‘Sino pessimism’, “if one approaches the Chinese presence from the ‘big power perspective’, one could say that China would do like other previous big powers that colonised the continent.”
Odion noted that the fact that China did not support the African candidate in the last bid for the presidency of the World Bank “shows that it does not have the interest of Third World countries at heart.”
However, some participants were of the view that the West was not in the right position to put allegation of colonialism to China since the West had been responsible for the destruction of Africa’s historical and cultural civilisation.
They stated that the Chinese investors “have better things to offer since they are on the continent to modernise rather than colonise it.”