* China consumes Africa's oil, raw mineral resources
* Africa opening itself up to new imperialism -Nigeria
* West says China turns blind eye to human rights
By George Obulutsa and Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala
DAR ES SALAAM, March 24 Chinese President Xi
Jinping faces growing calls from policymakers and economists in
Africa for a more balanced trade relationship between the
continent and China as he arrives in Tanzania at the beginning
of an African tour on Sunday.
China's ties with the continent dates back to the 1950s,
when Beijing backed African liberation movements fighting to
throw off Western colonial rule. It has built roads, railways,
stadiums and pipelines to win access to Africa's oil and
minerals like copper and uranium to feed its booming economy.
Many across Africa see China as a valuable counterbalance to
the West's influence. But as the relationship matures there is
mounting discomfort in Africa that the continent is exporting
raw materials while spending heavily to import finished consumer
goods from the Asian economic powerhouse.
"He will be looking to tone down the feeling that China is
just here to exploit resources. I think that is going to be his
main job," James Shikwati, director of the Nairobi-based Inter
Regional Economic Network think tank, told Reuters.
China's new leader is due to land in Tanzania's commercial
capital, Dar es Salaam, on Sunday for a state banquet before
delivering his first policy speech on Africa in a Chinese-funded
conference hall on Monday.
Xi will go on from Tanzania to South Africa where leaders of
the world's major emerging economies, known as the BRICS, will
meet on Tuesday and Wednesday and could endorse plans to create
a joint foreign exchange reserves pool and an infrastructure
bank at a summit.
The proposal underscores frustrations among emerging markets
at having to rely on the World Bank and International Monetary
Fund, which are seen as reflecting the interests of the United
States and other industrialised nations.
Xi's visit to Africa - which ends in the Republic of Congo -
on his first trip abroad is seen as a demonstration of Africa's
strategic importance to China, driven by Beijing's hunger for
resources and African demand for cheap Chinese imports.
The east African seaboard is hot property after huge gas
discoveries boosted Tanzania and Mozambique's combined gas
reserves to more than 180 trillion cubic feet.
Mozambique accounts for the bulk of this, with enough to
supply world number one importer Japan for 35 years. There have
also been oil strikes in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda.
Xi will criss-cross a region where China's economic growth
and injections of aid offer both hope and cause for anxiety.
Nigeria's central bank chief, Lamido Sanusi, said Africans
should wake up to the realities of their "romance with China."
"So China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured
ones. This was also the essence of colonialism," Sanusi wrote in
the Financial Times this month. "Africa is now willingly opening
itself up to a new form of imperialism."
"We must see China for what it is: a competitor."
In Dar es Salaam, where Tanzanian and Chinese flags
fluttered in the coastal breeze, businessman Hamisi Mwalimu said
China was flooding local markets with counterfeit goods while
stripping the continent of its natural resources.
"We need a smart partnership where both Tanzania and China
benefit. Right now, they're getting a much better deal than us,"
Beijing has kept under wraps details of new investments or
aid Xi will announce, a typical feature of overseas trips by
Chinese leaders. Last year, Xi's predecessor Hu Jintao offered
$20 billion in loans to African countries over the coming three
At that summit, China pledged to help Africa export
manufactured products, not just raw materials, and to import
from the continent.
But rights groups and some Western governments say China
supports African governments with dubious human rights records
to get access to resources. Often cited is Beijing's
relationship with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who
faces international war crimes charges.
The European Union rejects what it labels China's "cheque
book" approach to doing business with Africa and demands reforms
and the transparent use of aid.
Such criticism draws rebukes from China that the West treats
Africa as though it were a colony.
"Africa wants to be treated as an equal, and this is what
many Western countries do not understand, or are at least are
not willing to do," Zhong Jianhua, China's special envoy to
Africa, told Reuters in an interview this month.
"China at least knows that we have to treat people in Africa
China is criticised for using Chinese workers
on infrastructure and mining projects in Africa. Beijing
estimates almost 1 million Chinese are working in Africa.
Zhong acknowledged Chinese companies faced criticism for
flooding Africa with Chinese workers.
"We have told Chinese companies that they cannot just use
Chinese workers," Zhong said. "I think most Chinese firms now
Yet not all African governments appear that worried with the
use of Chinese workers, especially for infrastructure projects.
"China isn't coming to Congo to create jobs," Republic of
Congo Ambassador to China, Daniel Owassa, told Reuters.