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  • » 01/16/2008, 00.00

    CHINA – AFRICA

    Chinese thrown out of Sierra Leone for destroying local forests



    The authorities in Sierra Leone complain that foreign (mostly Chinese) companies have plundered the country’s timber, cutting it down indiscriminately, and exporting it without any benefit for local communities. Experts note that issue revolves around the extent to which Chinese aid can compensate for what the mainland extracts and takes out in terms of precious resources.

    Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) –Sierra Leone has banned timber exports because of the indiscriminate plundering of forests by foreign companies, especially Chinese. A Forestry Ministry official said that rapid deforestation in the north of the country had caused serious soil erosion, forcing local communities off the land.

    “They [foreign firms] just invaded and started doing what they felt like doing,” Forestry Minister Joseph Sam Sesay. “A lot of them are Chinese, Ivorians, Guineans.”

    The ban will remain in effect until a policy is put in place to ensure that logged trees are replaced and local communities benefit from logging. The goal is to prevent sheer depredation of the country’s natural resources because at the moment “the logs being cut are exported raw without value addition and benefit to the country,” Mr Sesay said.

    For analysts the problem goes back to how foreign companies deal with African states.

    China calls itself a great friend of Africa, offering economic aid, win-win co-operation for development and mutual respect.

    Indeed it has become a partner that cannot be ignored. The last meeting of the African Development Bank, which is involved in funding and providing aid to African countries, took place in May last year in Shanghai.

    However, mainland China is increasingly criticised because its aid does not compensate for the amount of natural resources that are taken out of African countries. The latter are left poorer than before.

    In 2006 the mainland’s imports from Africa totalled US$ 21.1 billion, especially in precious materials, whilst its exports to the continent reached US$ 18.6, mostly low-cost manufactured goods which hamper local industries.

    In 2007 there were protests in South Africa against the invasion of Chinese textile. In Zambia miners took to the streets against Chinese companies complaining about low wages and the violation of their rights.

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    See also

    17/05/2007 CHINA – AFRICA
    China and Africa to develop together without neo-colonial relations
    For the first time Beijing is concerned about Africa’s crises and the Darfur genocide. But trade remains its main focus. African states want to improve trade relations with China and Asia but do not want to be exploited.

    19/03/2010 CHINA – AFRICA
    African stories: where the Chinese put their life at risk to enrich Beijing
    Two men convicted of murdering Chinese workers are executed in Sudan. Seven Chinese fishermen are released after they were abducted in Cameroon. Through its companies, China is increasingly raising its profile in Africa, to exploit the continent’s natural and human resources. However, more and more, the local population views this presence as a “foreign invasion” and turning against it.

    23/11/2010 CHINA – AFRICA
    China’s road to Africa through financial aid, economic control and political support
    Chinese companies are a law onto themselves in poverty-stricken Zambia. In South Africa, Chinese banks are investing in local financial institutions as Beijing provides Pretoria with capital and political support.

    17/07/2008 CHINA - SOUTH AFRICA
    Animal rights activists on war footing against ivory market in China
    The organisation that deals with trade in endangered species has approved exchange between China and South Africa, allowing the Asian country to import 51 tonnes. In Kenya, three Chinese are arrested under the accusation of "illegal trafficking" of ivory.

    06/06/2017 09:36:00 CHINA - ZAMBIA
    Beijing protests arrest of 31 Chinese workers with Zambia

    The detention took place over the weekend for (alleged) illegal mining activities and exploitation of child labor. Chinese diplomat replies: there is no evidence of "illegal" activities justifying arrests. The African country hosts a growing Chinese community.





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