Chinese takeover? I'm not losing any sleep By CHARLES ONYANGO-OBBO In the past month, almost every international magazine and Western website that reports on international affairs seemed to have an article on the Chinese economic takeover (or even colonisation) of Africa. A common view is that Chinese involvement in Africa is dangerous for democracy, because it is morally blind and does business with governments irrespective of how corrupt they are, whether they hold elections or not, and whether a regime has only recently slaughtered one thousand protestors. I share those fears, but I dont lose sleep over them. First, it looks like China is not going to be a big player in Africa for very long because it has a narrow strategy: Strike deals to get oil and other natural resources; bring in as many Chinese workers as you can; build roads, airports, and bridges in record time and at very low prices; sell cheap goods, and dont do anything else. Unless it inserts itself in the spheres it doesnt care about right now, like human rights, China seems set to remain an entity that only does business with states and wont work itself into the popular imagination of Africans the most crucial ingredient in building lasting relationships among peoples. Indeed, in many countries there are complaints that the Chinese stick to themselves so much, they dont even chase after local women! When I challenged that assessment of Chinese cross-cultural romance, a friend asked if I knew any Chinese who had African girlfriends. I couldnt think of one. Because it is still a communist despotism, China will take a long time to become a socially relaxed enough country for its people to mix freely with other cultures. In spite of all that, Chinese could still leave a positive mark on Africa. The Chinese are working on massive road projects around Nairobi. They did the same in Addis Ababa, and are doing likewise in Sudan. They do three shifts, and work 24 hours. In a countries whose leaders and citizens have often, and justifiably, been accused of laziness, this impressive Chinese work ethic is being talked about a lot, and some African contractors are beginning to emulate it. The modest lifestyle of the Chinese is also making an impression on the continent, and could eventually lead to a less wasteful business culture. But most of all, it is important to differentiate the types of African countries China works in. There are the DR Congos, where it is largely into extraction of raw material.