China has been exporting inexpensive clothing, machinery, and high tech products so it was just a matter of time before it decided to export a valuable natural resource– Chinese people. Current estimates are that about 750,000 Chinese are presently working on the African continent in a variety of positions including running farms and teaching Africans modern agricultural methods. Liu Jinjun has helped to send at least 10,000 farmers from his native province of Hebei to work in Africa, many in what he terms, “Boading Villages” which contain anywhere from 400 to 2,000 Chinese farmers. Bilateral trade between the African continent and China has now passed $100 billion each year. China is anxious to import the rich material resources of the African continent and its emissaries frequently are farmers as well as businessmen.
As Mr. Liu notes: “In Africa they have plenty of land and too few farmers.” Therefore sending Chinese farmers is a way to raise the standard of living. He also points out that China is not associated with the legacy of colonialism which hampers Europeans nor with the legacy of war and violence which now is linked to America.
Of course, the flip side of the Chinese arrival is a refusal on the part of its government to show any concern for human rights violations. In fact, there is evidence China has been supplying the dictator Robert Mugabe with weapons of war. If the Chinese government would exert its economic pressure it could help resolve issues such as Darfur.