Students and community members filled the Grand Salon last Thursday to attend the panel discussion “The Growing Influence of China in Africa,” one of the closing events for Africa Week, hosted by the African Students Organization and the Pan-African Studies Department.
The main goal of this panel discussion was to “show students the changing economics of the world and how different regions of the world interact with each other,” said Tom-Spencer Walters, a coordinator of the event and chair of the Pan-African Studies Department.
China is now “very important with Africa development,” Walters said. “What we bring today will show political links and challenges.”
“Africa has had its share of challenges,” said Walters.
We have an “expert panel,” he added. The event included five speakers: anthropology professor Suzanna Scheld, religious studies professor Mutombo Nkulu-N’Sengha, political science senior Stephanie Stricklin, retired physics and astronomy professor Paul Chow, and Yang You and his translator Yilu Shen, visiting scholars from Shanghai Normal University.
“If conflict breaks out, will China suppress aid in those countries or help the situation?” said Stricklin, whose speech focused on peace-building between the two regions.
“China is willing to come into any country and give them aid, regardless if their government is corrupt.,” she said. “China doesn’t hold meetings about environmental impact and government,” she added.
“In Sierra Leon, the U.K. is the biggest aid donor, but it’s future aid is dependent upon Sierra Leon’s government development,” she said.
China, however, has “no strings attached” loans, said Stricklin.
“China supports regimes that have crime and violence,” she said.
“If reforms aren’t made by governments, poverty and violence will continue,” she said. “It can only lead to negative consequences.”
“It is clear Africa is benefiting from China,” she added. “Africa, because of this, sees China as a success.”
“The role of China in Africa is a very important topic,” said Scheld, who has done fieldwork in Africa funded by CSUN.
“The Chinese economy is rapidly expanding,” she added.
Stricklin said that she was the only speaker who was voicing her opinion against China’s relationship with Africa.
“When two elephants fight, the grass suffers, and when two elephants make love, the grass suffers equally,” said Nkulu-N’Sengha in his opening speech.
“Africa is extremely rich, yet the people are starving. It doesn’t make sense,” he said. “Something is flawed.”
“There are about one million Chinese living in Africa, and the number will continue to grow,” said Nkulu-N’Sengha.
When money is given to rulers, a lot of that is used to buy weapons, he said.
“In Africa, there is a big market for China to import,” said You, which was translated by Shen.
We have a lot of strategies for communication and current development, he said. China also hopes to have a mutual trust in politics and benefit in economics through cross-culture communication, he added.
“We hope to enhance cooperation in security,” said You.
China is the “model for new international relationships,” he said.
You aided his speech though a PowerPoint presentation in which he outlined the future of China relations in Africa.
Currently, there are more than 750,000 nationals from China working in Africa. Trade has raised 40 percent a year since 2001.
The panel discussion was one of many for Africa Week, with each day focusing on a different region. Thursday’s events focused on Ethiopia. The Panel discussion of Africa’s influence on China was followed by another panel discussion on Malaria.
“I am tremendously happy so many students took the opportunity to listen to speakers,” said Walters. “I am very happy with the turnout.”
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