Thursday, 1 September 2011

A Opiniao de Huang Shejiao

The saga of a continent called Africa, by Huang Shejiao (China Daily)

The 2011 "Failed State Index", prepared by the Fund for Peace and published by Foreign Policy, has put seven African countries - Somalia, Chad, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, the Central African Republic and Cote d'lvoire - among the top 10. Even according to the United Nations, 33 of the 48 most "underdeveloped" countries are in Africa. This should give an idea of how backward Africa is.

We don't know the purpose why think tanks publish such lists or why they take the trouble to prepare such data. But an investigation to find why so many African countries are part of the "Failed State Index" may be worth the effort.

After being under Western powers' colonial rule for decades, African countries started gaining independence in the 1960s, one weak economy after another. Led by some good-intentioned politicians and with the help of friendly countries, African people have made every effort to rebuild their countries despite beginning from scratch.

Though they face many obstacles on the way to true economic development, African countries have made some outstanding achievements. This has boosted the confidence of many visionary African leaders to restore the past glory of the continent. On the whole, the future of Africa looks promising today.

But the early 1990s saw a sudden change in the stability of the international situation. The democratization wave started by the Western world has swept across many African countries. Forces inside and outside Africa have used it to stir unrest leading to turmoil in some countries. The road to failure of the "loser countries" began in the 1990s, and Somalia was one of the first to suffer.

After the legal president of Somalia was overthrown by a rebel group in January 1991, the political situation in Somalia got from bad to worse, tearing the country apart. The country entered into political anarchy in 1992, which has lasted until today. Though a caretaker government was set up in Somalia in 2004, it could not control the situation.

In Zimbabwe, land reform upset the Western world because it affected the interest of the whites. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe once knighted by the queen of the United Kingdom, an honor reserved for a few, has become a dictator overnight, and the West has tried every means possible to overthrow him, unsuccessfully though.

Cote d'lvoire, a country that the West once referred to as the "window of the African economy", has now become a "loser country".

It has long been a common practice among Western powers to adopt all kinds of measures to suppress and punish "disobedient" African countries, or any non-Western country for that matter. The West tries every method and scheme to make the governments of such countries lose their people's confidence and establish control over them by helping opposition forces to seize power in the name of democratization.

Another of their methods is to impose sanctions on such countries to weaken their economies, which cause material shortage, inflation, currency devaluation and make life hard for the people, and blame everything on the governments.

Besides, Western countries openly support insurgents and government change, the latest example of which is Libya. The Western powers refuse to hold peaceful talks and negotiations over the crisis in Libya with representative bodies such as the United Nations and the African Union and have kept bombarding Libya regardless of the loss of civilian life.

Also, the Western powers always use one pretext or another to delay aid to African countries. Instead of honoring their promise that they keep making from time to time as a "goodwill" gesture, they warn African countries not to accept investment from emerging economies, which thwarts mutually beneficial cooperation between African and emerging countries.

Under such pressure, some African countries that lack the ability to withstand risks cannot afford severe sequential damage and become victims of strikes and demonstrations, which result in further social and political disruption.

Needless to say, the ones who should be held responsible for Africa's failure are the Western powers, which are still playing the colonial power game. And all the while they keep laying the blame on African countries, and even release lists with humiliating rankings to lower African nations' confidence and morale further.

The harsh reality is that the West does not want the revival of Africa, because it is afraid that an economically and politically developed African continent would cease to be their playground. The Western powers are desperate to maintain their control over Africa, and the ranking list is just part of their design to continue their game.

The author is a researcher with the China International Studies Research Fund.

(China Daily 08/04/2011 page9)

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