Europeans and their offshoots have colonized the world for 500 years, enslaving, killing and robbing indigenous people on all continents. My schoolbooks 60 years ago taught us that the pagans should be grateful to us for giving them Christianity, which we considered the height of civilization (to which Gore Vidal famously said: yes, we gave them Christian burials). What we did was to exchange one superstition for another, destroying ancient cultures in the process.
The progress we now see in the South is closely correlated to the West losing its neo-colonial grip on the developing countries. In Asia this happened earlier and coincided with rejection of western neoliberal dogmas. In Africa and Latin America it’s a more recent phenomenon, and the pace of development is impressive. Extreme poverty is rapidly diminishing.
Now there really is a change in paradigm going on in the world, in which China is showing how a country can gain power without using power. The peaceful and large-scale “invasion” with investments and aid in Africa and elsewhere is a forceful refutation of the western idea of violence being a sustainable way to obtain influence in the world.
China’s efforts benefit themselves as well as the receiving countries. The advantages of peace will be enforced by every new railway, school, road, mine, hospital etc. that’s being built. At a first glance it could look as if pacifists’ centuries old dreams have turned into reality.
Since no one can be against such benevolent enterprises, our media has chosen its first line of defense: to ignore them. The philistine Swedish media are masters in that art, while papers like the New York Times sometimes opens a minor vent to the real world. And that’s what they did the other day on China’s industrious ventures in Africa, and particularly in the small, desert country of Namibia.
The NYT article is long (18 typed pages) and mostly informative, but naturally not lacking insidious fault-finding and hyper-criticism of the kind we save for our enemies. The story focuses on the Husab Uranium Mine, a §4.6 billion investment to construct the second largest uranium mine in the world. It’s intended to support China’s rapidly expanding nuclear power program, also casting light on another benign effort: to reduce CO2 emissions, benefitting the environment, not just for China itself but for the entire globe. When fully operative, the mine is estimated to increase the Namibian GDP by 5 percent.
The special relationship between the two countries goes back to the 1960s when China supported the liberation movement Swapo, who struggled against an apartheid regime (ruling the country in a way that even US nowadays condemn). China is not pacifist but upholds a strict policy of non-interference, meaning that they oppose military actions against other nations. Consequently, it supports the Namibian military and its ability to defend its own country.
“China’s gravitational pull can be felt today in every nook of the globe” says NYT article. Then it devotes considerable space to ransack all kinds of problems that inevitably follows from international operations on this scale. Friction between cultures, assiduous strangers giving orders, there are all kinds of possible difficulties, most thoroughly examined by the author.
“Is China the World’s New Colonial Power?” the headline to the article reads. To compare China’s efforts of improving the economies in poor countries with our enslaving, robbing and murdering colonialism is of course a disgrace. It’s equivalent to compare a surgeon with a knife killer.
This patronizing and contemptuous attitude in our mainstream media and public narrative is of courseÂ despicable. We are overrun by China’s peaceful offensive, while we continue to destroy everything that gets in our way. The West has turned the entire Middle East into a complete disaster, bombing it to rubbles, leading to the death of millions and forcing even more millions to join a refugee flood. And we are still unable to show even a trace of humility (except among dissidents in the margin).
Our way of treating the world is not sustainable in the long run. Luckily the human species has been endowed with a rather potent brain which inevitably will figure out that China’s way is far better than ours. When that materializes maybe even the future of the human species can be saved.