The US warns China of human rights violations in Africa

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Photo: Collected

The US has urged the Chinese government to respect the interests of Africans, while urging Beijing to respect human rights, including labor rights and environmental protection. US Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose W. Fernandez made the comments during his visit to Cape Town, South Africa, May 9-12. He added that the US is not opposed to China investing in Africa unless it respects human rights in Africa. The remarks come amid observations that Chinese businessmen have gradually infiltrated local businesses and made African states highly dependent on their products and exports, the Hong Kong Post reported. The textile industry in Africa has been hit hard due to cheaper Chinese exports, resulting not only in the loss of about 75,000 jobs in the country but also a 10 percent drop in market share in neighboring economies. One of the reasons for this sad state of affairs in Africa is President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative targets investments in major infrastructure projects such as ports, rails, roads, pipelines and power plants. Seven years after its launch, BRI has become a symbol of wasteful spending, ecological destruction and debt burdens for African countries, according to the media portal. Chinese BRI projects have been marred by a lack of transparency and accountability, leading to corruption in these projects. A 2018 study report found that about 270 projects under the BRI had problems related to debt sustainability, labor and environmental standards, national security, transparency and corruption. Another cause for serious concern is the violation of human rights by Chinese businessmen on the continent. A report (2021) by the London-based Business and Human Rights Resources Center, Africa, finds that of the total human rights abuse cases registered in 2013-19, about 27 percent were against Chinese companies. The issues, mainly related to loss of livelihood, environmental impact assessment and workers’ rights, have been brought to the fore in several countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Congo and now Namibia, prompting a backlash from local civil society groups in those countries evoked countries. Earlier, the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) began protesting the Chinese businessmen for their involvement in selling counterfeit goods. The government arrested NEFF leaders Michel Amushelelo and ARM Dimbulukele Navyoma along with 8 others on May 13 for protesting in China Town in Windhoek. The protesters claimed that the entire Chinese city was busy selling counterfeit goods and called for Chinese shops to be closed and their goods burned. Given the resentment among locals, the NEFF is likely to garner support from other members of civil society and could further aggravate the situation towards Chinese companies. Source: ANI

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