China’s presence in Africa has been rapidly growing over the past decade, and it’s not only the ivory trade and illegal mining operations (although, that said, there is definitely a lot of ivory trading and illegal mining). China’s approach to Africa isn’t the same as former European colonial powers, but dammit if some of the bits don’t look pretty familiar, as wildlife expert Jane Goodall recently ranted to the South China Morning Post.
Goodall has accused the Chinese as “merely doing what the colonialist [sic] did,” and that Chinese investors only “want raw materials for their economic growth.” It’s certainly hard to argue with the second point, and Goodall goes on, with some optimism:
China is bigger, and the technology has improved… It is a disaster. […]
I do believe China is changing. I think 10 years ago, even with international pressure, we would never have had an ivory crush. But they have. […]
I think 10 years ago the government would never have banned shark fin soup on official occasions. But they have.
China has, albeit slowly, started cracking down on the illegal ivory trade coming from Africa, and Goodall praised the drop in consumption of sharkfin soup, which may be all thanks to Xi.
Goodall’s primary interest in the China/Africa relationship is one of environmental and animal conservation, and as long as she believes that “China is changing,” and becoming more conscious of its impact on the continent, maybe we’ll have to worry less about illegal rhino horns and more about worker exploitation. Great.
[Image via TheZoom]