Monday, June 2, 2014

Chinese migrants in Lesotho

ALERT: This is a Mandarin-language episode! Jess Wilhelm, Senior Research Associate at Social & Scientific Systems, delivered a lecture on Chinese migrants in Lesotho based on his experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer there. He spoke on April 17, 2014 at China Garden for the Mandarin Speakers Society. Carlos Da Rosa provided the introduction. We recorded the lecture, and Mr. Wilhelm was generous in offering to translate it, and his efforts can be seen below the break.

Introduction - 0:11
Lecture - 4:34
Questions and answers - 45:49

Carlos Da Silva: 

Our guest speaker tonight is Jess Wilhelm. His Chinese name is Wu JiaSi. He is a China expert as well as an African specialist. Our topic for this evening is 'What is China's Impact on Africa?' Is it positive or is it negative?

In recent years, this subject has captured the attention of the whole world. To start, Mr. Wilhelm will introduce the historical background of Sino-African relations and discuss recent developments. We ... greatly wish ... (indecipherable) because Mr. Wilhelm has personally experienced and observed, he is able to discuss the impact of China on Africa. The particular subject of this evening's talk are Chinese shopkeepers in Africa and their role and importance in African society and economy.

[Jess] Wilhelm is a graduate of Ohio University, where he earned a Bachelor's of Science in Astrophysics. He received his master's degree from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been awarded a Foreign Language and Area Studies fellowship from the Department of Education and a National Security Education Program Boren Scholarship from DoD. This scholarship permitted him to study in China. From 2011 to 2013, he served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Southern African nation of Lesotho. There, he promoted sustainable agriculture in order to protect soil, adapt to climate change, and increase agricultural productivity.

Mr. Wilhelm, thank you for coming. We are happy to be in your audience.

Jess Wilhelm: 

Thank you

I would first like to thank Carlos for the fine introduction. Furthermore, I would like to make a correction: I am not a China expert and I could never be one.

I would like to give you a taste of my experience in Africa, but in the process I hope to explain the past 10 years of Sino-African relations. However, if you want to understand recent history, we must first discuss what came before the recent past...

Therefore, to begin, we will start with the year after the People's Republic of China is established, 1950, and trace the curve of Sino-African relations up to the present point, when the topic has captured so many people's attention. Therefore, I am going to speak a little bit and also show you some representative photographs. While I am showing you pictures on my laptop, I will be cheating by looking at my notes, in order to to forget anything.

First, let me introduce myself. Carlos already did a good job. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating, I worked briefly in the U.S. Embassy in China [for the Agricultural Trade Office of USDA]. After that, I was in the Peace Corps in Lesotho for two and a half years.

Where is Lesotho? You may be asking yourself this question, so I am going to answer it... If you look at a map of Africa, you may still not be able to see where Lesotho is - so, I'll make the map larger. Lesotho is a small country in the middle of South Africa and completely surrounded by South Africa. In a while, I will explain how it came to pass that there is one country inside of another, but first let me continue my introduction: there I was in reality doing agricultural work, but I also had time to observe other situations. I think that I have come to understand the history, lifestyles, and future of Chinese, particularly Chinese shopkeepers, in Lesotho. Moreover, I, like Winslow Robertson, don't particularly know how to put this knowledge to practical use ... if you have any suggestions, I am looking for a job, so please let me know!

Let's begin. In 1950, the P.R.C. had just been established, but immediately faced crises on its borders. Due to the Cold War with the U.S.S.R., the U.S. invaded Korea and supported the R.O.C. in Taiwan. At that moment, the P.R.C. had a need for regional solidarity... in Chinese there is a saying, "Without the gums, the teeth get cold." There must be something between nations to prevent them from being split apart one by one. For the P.R.C., the immediate need in the 1950s was to stabilize the regional situation in Asia. For this reason, Chinese leadership took little interest in Africa. Moreover, at that time, most of Africa still consisted of European Empire's colonies that were not yet independent.

Once African countries became independent, though, they faced a crucial decision. It wasn't a crucial decision for the African countries, but it was crucial for China. And that decision was whether to recognize R.O.C. or the P.R.C. government. In order to further its candidacy for the UN, mainland China hoped to develop relationships with newly independent states and South American states. However, the R.O.C.'s support in the West remained solid [during the 1960s] and it retained an important position in the UN. Therefore, the P.R.C. began distributing aid to African and Middle Eastern countries. Typically, the assistance consisted of a mixture of technical support and grants. The purpose of which was to receive support. In the 1960s, the principal aim of the P.R.C. leadership was to obtain international support and to promote Maoist ideology. For that reason, there were Maoist political and rebel movements in Africa influenced by China, which we can discuss more at a later time.

From 1966, China entered into the Cultural Revolution period, and its impact on Africa was significant.  Many African leaders who had looked upon the P.R.C. as a development model lost confidence in the midst of social unrest. Furthermore, economic stagnation made it increasingly difficult to sustain international assistance. In 1974, China's foreign aid accounted for 7% of the central government's budget revenues - a lot. Slowly, this number declined and, as the P.R.C. entered the Reform and Opening period - I'm talking about post 1978 - the central CCP leadership wanted to develop the domestic economy and maintain social stability. Therefore, from the 70s to the 90s, China entered one of its many "inward-looking" periods. Chinese aid in Africa declined, through it still existed, and many nations switched recognition to the R.O.C. - in fact, most nations have switched [back and forth] and they tend to use it as leverage to obtain more benefits, just as they played the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. against one another, or as they do now between the West and China...

Yet, in the 90s, China's aid to Africa underwent a dramatic change. This transformation can be described in two words: "mutual benefit". What does "mutual benefit" mean? Not only should one provide assistance, but when assistance is given, it should also benefit China's economy, firms, and culture. Therefore, from the 1990s ... before China provided mainly grants - no repayment required - but now there would be a mix of grants and loans. So, now profit is in the mix, as is private investment.  From the 1990s, one can observe many SOEs and private firms beginning to invest in Africa and in other countries. The P.R.C. central government gave Chinese companies a chance to get established internationally. Moreover, during the 1990s, there were many civil wars in Africa and few Western firms were interested in entering to do business on the continent. Therefore, Chinese firms were in the right place to capitalize on opportunities available during that special time. In order to facilitate the entry of Chinese firms into the African market, the Chinese government provided assistance to African nations, but they exclusively used Chinese firms, for instance to build an athletic stadium - in every African capital, there is a stadium, some built by China - they use Chinese construction firms for athletic centers, airports, railway projects in Africa.

However, for African governments this still has three main benefits:

First, from the 1980s onwards, when Western nations give aid to Africa, they have tended to target social development (including education and health). However, if one asks African officials or common citizens "What is your primary [development] goal?" they will definitely say economic development. Once there has been economic development, health is not a problem because one can afford to go to a hospital and education isn't a problem because children can go to school. Therefore, in their view, the most important issue is economic development. As Western governments were not providing the type of assistance they desired, they sought it from China.
The second benefit, in my opinion, is that African governments seeking aid from the West are required to meet many standards, including political, environmental, social, and administrative. The most frustrating are accounting standards, because one can't waste the funds. (For the U.S. public, this is very important. If aid is given it must be accounted for. Was it misappropriated through corruption? Was it used for this purpose or for that purpose?) However, for African governments who have difficulty managing their own finances, how can they account for foreign assistance with even higher standards? China doesn't act in this way. Typically, if the China Ex-Im Bank provides the assistance, funds go directly to a Chinese firm with instructions for where to build and how to build. The requirements placed on African government ministries are not very numerous.

The third benefit: African countries can allow China and Western nations to compete. Imagine, if you try to give some one money and they refuse ... they want someone else's money. How would you feel? This is a source of tension between China and the United States in Africa - aid to Africa. But, it is a similar issue for both parties because African countries want aid funding to be large with few conditions. But, what does China want?

China wants to support its firms entrance into Africa.

Secondly, by using Chinese materials, labor, and management, a small amount of money can have a large impact.

The third benefit is that China can court African politicians. One may wonder why in countries with extreme rural poverty, China wants to build airports, libraries, and ministerial offices in urban areas. It is to develop relationships with the local elites, particularly officials. In addition, when I worked in Beijing, I would constantly encounter visiting African government officials. They were either from public companies or national ministries and they came to Beijing [and other cities] to participate in three-week training courses. Now, for a training course, you have to attend classes, but the rest of the time you can have fun. Really, these trips are about free travel and entertainment and do not emphasize practical skills training. The goal is to create connections with China. In the U.S., we have serious difficulty obtaining visas for visitors; to bring an African official to the U.S. for a week could take half a year of processing paperwork. China feels that, by establishing connections with African leaders, future economic and political cooperation can be improved.

In the last 20 years, Western nations have adhered to a common set of foreign aid policies. For instance, they must report their assistance in a consistent way and there must be transparency. Developed countries (including Japan), through the OECD have a common system for aid reporting, and the standards are fairly strict. But, China was never a involved in formulating these standards and never agreed to practices for giving aid, therefore it doesn't respect other nations' and the OECD's model.

To Western media and governments, China may be having a negative impact, and China's actions on the continent have been criticized. My personal opinion - and this is my personal opinion, I do not represent the U.S. government or the U.S. Peace Corps in any way - is that Western media criticism have had some merit, but that the issue is exaggerated. The U.S. also has some unsavory foreign assistance practices - we donate a lot of tied food aid from the U.S. , so we cannot say that China's practices are entirely different from what we've done in the past or right now.

I want to move this discussion from the topic of abstract international relations to discuss person-to-person relations. I've talked about Chinese government and African government relations, but below the national level, there are many Chinese commerçants in Africa. They are not diplomats, they are immersed in society doing business. They must interact with locals on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, I think that their story is a better way to describe and understand Sino-African relations. I wish to use my experience in Lesotho to analyze the story of Chinese traders in Africa.

To begin, let's look at some pictures so that nobody falls asleep. You remember me saying that Lesotho is inside of South Africa. What then, do you think Lesotho looks like? It's an African country, so it must be very hot and humid, right!? And there are lots of lions! Wildlife must be very abundant, right? However, to be specific, Lesotho is a highland, mountainous, and fairly cold and dry country. I will show you a picture of the landscape in winter [shows picture of a mountainous terrain of dry grassland].  In winter, you may believe that it is the moon, you see the landscape, but you don't see human habitation. You may believe it is the Eurasian steppe. The population is fairly large. Although it is a small country, it still has 2 million people. Because its area is small and it is mostly mountainous, its population is mostly concentrated in the valleys. This is a picture of the valleys [points to indistinct human settlements on the landscape]. Even though the landscape looks barren in the winter, in the summer it is quite verdant [shows a picture of a lush, green grassland in summer.] In the U.S., the best comparison would be with [Northern] Texas or Oklahoma, from an ecological perspective. If you want to compare with China, I think it resembles eastern Gansu or Shaanxi province. Now, what possible interest could Chinese people have in this type of place?

Chinese [businesspeople] in [Lesotho] are genuinely following economic opportunities. However,hat type of economic opportunities can a country like Lesotho offer? Specifically, it is retail shops. Originally, Lesotho was a Southern African kingdom, [in Southern Africa] Britain and the Dutch [Afrikaners] established four different colonies, then in 1912, these were united to form the Union of South Africa [now the Republic of South Africa]. Lesotho was left out of the Union and, due to Apartheid/racial discrimination, it never has joined, but it wound up being completely surrounded by the new nation. When it came time for [Lesotho's] independence, many did not want it. They wanted Britain to stay for protection, but Britain was set on leaving Africa and Lesotho had to take up independence. At independence, there was almost no domestic economy [outside of a weak, subsistence agriculture]. Its economy depended on South Africa. The majority of men in Lesotho have worked in South Africa, especially in its mines. Then, their earnings were predominantly spent to buy South African agricultural and industrial products - so they made money in South Africa and used it to buy goods imported from there. There was little trade or industry. Initially, it was Indians, from South Africa's Indian community, who came into Lesotho to do business. When the Chinese shopkeepers arrived in the 1990s, their greatest competitors proved to be the Indians.

In the 1990s, around 1994, many Taiwanese garment factories relocated to Lesotho. Following in their footsteps were many private traders from mainland China. Because the country was poor and the majority of the population were now proletariat rather than self-sufficient peasants, therefore there was a need to buy food [in supermarkets]. Therefore, the Chinese began to enter into the retail sector. Twenty years on, Chinese traders remain focused in retail, and, in just ten years, they took over 50% of the country's retail sector. How did this happen?

Mutual trust among Chinese was at root of the success. Their ability to form connections and trust one another allowed them to conduct business on a large scale. By contrast, in African thinking, "If you are not my relative, I cannot trust you, and even if you are my relative, I still cannot trust you." This is a major barrier to local businesses. Therefore, Chinese business people gained a large portion of the retail market.

(Let me show you what these Taiwanese garment factories look like: In China, they'd be rather small, typically there are 500 to 2,000 workers, moreover most of their products are exported to other countries, including the United States and Europe.) 

By comparison, Chinese-run shops are very different in appearance. They are fairly simple. Their products are typically food and household consumer goods, and they are typically imported from South Africa or from China. The shopkeepers are all from the same place - Fuzhou and Fuqing. (We have here some people from Fuzhou... not including those from Taiwan.)
When I spoke with Chinese shopkeepers, there was a .... limitation due to the fact that they do not use Mandarin to communicate, but rather the Fuzhou dialect. Also, some among them, they haven't finished middle school, some haven't even finished elementary school. Typically, they arise from ... what in China would be lower-middle class. Their incomes are high enough that they can go abroad - if they have support - and they are mostly urban residents. However, because they don't have high school or tertiary degrees and they don't have much starting capital, they have little ability to compete in the Chinese market, which encourages them to go abroad. They are typically 18-20 years old when they go abroad, and they do so with support from their parents, uncles, or so called uncles and family friends or the sort, who bring them over to work for them. 

When they begin working, they are typically single. After a few years, they can begin to make money and have their own shops, they will certainly return to China in order to marry and bring back their spouse. When they were single, the young guys would hang out and stand around together a lot, but [when married] they would change. Everyday, they would be delivering goods and the wife would take care of the shop. Their living conditions aren't very good, and the work is hard. They will work 364 days a year - only Christmas Day off - and a typical workday last 12 hours. Therefore the conditions aren't good. However, they have many locals working for them. If they need someone to load stock, make deliveries, or to sweep up, it will definitely be a local doing the work. Their income can vary, at the lowest would be 3000RMB per month, but it can be up to 1 million. There are some shopkeepers who have truly gotten rich, they have set up many small shops in the villages [for others to run]. One picture that I showed you is of a small shop, in the rural areas, but that small shop is definitely linked to a larger shop in town [in a system]. (Shows picture of a medium-sized shop in town.)

When you enter a Chinese shop, you will see two things: First, you will see a tough-looking local holding a terrifying weapon. I don't know if these were ever loaded - I never asked. I just nodded and put my bag on the floor. The second thing you'll notice, is that the shop is divided into two sections. In one section, you can enter at will and pick the things you want - though there is always someone watching you. [In the other section, you have to ask for the item behind the counter - this is where electronics and cosmetics are kept.] South Africa is the most dangerous country that is not at war. For every 100,000 people, there are 50 murders a year. That is ten times the U.S. average. Lesotho isn't as dangerous, perhaps only a murder rate of 25/100,000. Regardless, no matter what, there always needs to be an armed guard in every shop - to protect the stock, the money, and the shopkeepers' lives.

Another thing you'll see in Chinese shops are 14-18 year old Chinese youth. When the children are old enough, around 5, they will definitely go back to China to live with their grandparents. If their studies aren't good, they will come back to help their parents in the shop. Afterwards, they may have their own shops. Chinese people in Lesotho, I learned from my many conversations during shopping trips in town, admit that if they hadn't gone abroad, their economic fortunes in China would be poor. For them, leaving is a way to have a future. They all say that they planned to return after five years and do business at home or buy a comfortable job, which can be done if the price is right, but they don't leave after five years, ten years and they still haven't left. The money is good, so they don't want to go. Often, they've stayed 15 years and have taken a Lesotho passport, so I guess that there is a portion who will not be itinerant, they will become permanent residents and their children will be born in Africa, and maybe grow up there. Whether these children will become Chinese or Africans, it is anyone's guess.

I've talked about Chinese business peoples' life, but what about the reaction of Africans? They've had three main reactions:

First, if the goods are cheap, they will buy them. Goods in Chinese shops - not just because of low Chinese labor costs, but also because of economies of scale cutting out middlemen - are affordably priced. Therefore, locals love to buy from Chinese businesses, but they also complain about the economic impact of the Chinese. They both like them and hate them. You'll notice that this is similar to our reaction to Walmart. We complain about Walmart's action, but if it is less expensive, we will still go there to shop. This is a similar problem, but there are also a few local and Indian business people who are very unsatisfied. Moreover, they have powerful influence. Therefore, in Lesotho, one begins to see government officials expressing a suspicious attitude towards Chinese businesses.

Because Chinese shopkeepers are currently competing with one another and no longer competing with locals [who have been driven out of business] they cannot maintain high profits in food and consumer retail. Therefore, they are looking for other sectors in which to invest. This is a major opportunity. If they only remain in retail - the retail sector, because most goods are imported, has limited economic impact. [For example] this phone may cost $20, and I sell it to you for $25, I made $5, but if I could produce this phone, I'd make all $25. So, what Africa doesn't need is more business people to do trade, rather it needs business people to bring industry to supply the common people with employment opportunities. I am very pleased to see Chinese business people in the construction materials sector, producing bricks, cement, and sandstone in modest sized factories and quarries. These factories can bring more economic opportunities. If they became investors, [the Chinese] could easily acquire local Africans' welcome, but now it is both welcome and complaints, and disturbances...
For example, in the place where I lived [in Lesotho] there had been a Chinese shop nearby, but other shop owners found some youth to beat them up, then they trashed the shop. I [just] showed your a picture of the nearest Chinese shop 5km away. They are afraid now to do business much closer, because there is not a good road, [and for security]. They would not stay at a shop in the rural areas overnight because it is too dangerous, they must live in town. There there is electricity and water. Where I lived there was neither, so it was much more convenient in town. However, for safety, they convoy out of the shops to town at 6pm. Under these conditions, I think that the Chinese will definitely draw a reaction from the locals, but if they have benefits for the locals, they can maintain the welcome. Furthermore, they won't be able to pick up and leave, they will come to resemble the Indians before them, and the Whites in South Africa too, who remain on the continent, have children, and create a new African ethnic group - the Chinese.

Alright. Do you have any questions?

Carlos Da Rosa:


今晚的嘉宾是Jess Wilhelm,中文名字是吴佳思。他是中国通也是非洲专家。


这个话题有一段时间越来越引起你可以说全球的注意。一开始吴先生给我们介绍非中关系的历史背景,还[要]讲最近主要的非中关系的发展。我们很。。。希望很 [噪音]因为吴先生亲自通过。。。亲自观察和经理能够了解中国人和中国政府在非洲的作用。今晚演讲的重点是在非洲的中国的店主的角色。。。他会[给]我们解释他们的角色在非洲的社会当中的总要,也在经济方面当中也很重要。

吴先生是俄亥俄大学的毕业生,在(美国)俄亥俄大学获得了天体物理学的理学学位。然后在(美国)匹兹堡大学的国际事务研究学院获得硕士学位, 然后他获得美国教育部的[Foreign Language and Area Studies]的奖学金和国防部的Boren 的奖学金。这个奖学金允许他留学。从2011年到2013年他在非洲莱索托(Lesotho)作了美国和平队的志愿者。在这个地方,他推广了可持续农业,[为了]一边保护土壤、适应气候变化、还有增加农业生产率。


Jess Wilhelm:


我首先想感谢Carlos 先生给我这么好的介绍,而且我想修改一点:我不是中国通[笑声],我不会作为中国通。


首先我个我介绍。Carlos 先生已经做的不错。我是从美国匹兹堡大学毕业了。毕业之后,我在美国的在北京的大使馆工作过。然后在美国和平团。。。和平队作过两年半的志愿者,然后他们把我派到莱索托。莱索托在哪儿?你们可能就在问这个问题,所以我要给你们解释一下莱索托到底在哪儿了。要是(你能在地图上)非洲看得清楚的话也看不清楚莱索托到底在哪儿,所以我要把照片[阔]大一些。莱索托是一座很小的国家。(指地图)那,这里是南非,莱索托就是在南非的中间,他全部被南非包围了。然后,过一会我给你们解释为什么会有一个国家在另外一个国家中间,但首先我。。。给我介绍:实事我在那边做的是农业方面的,但是也有时间看其他的情况是什么样的。我觉得我很了解中国人在,尤其是中国的商人在南非和莱索托的历史、的现实的生活方式、和他们的前途是什么样的。而且,我也不知道跟Winslow 讲过《怎么能利用这样的能力、这样的了解、这样的智慧?》所以,如果你们有什么建议,我现在就在找工作。(笑声)把你的建议给我!

。。。我们就开始吧。在1950年的时候,中华人民共和国成立了,然后立刻就是在他们的边界上有危机。因为美国和苏联有冷战,然后就进入了台湾也进入了朝鲜,所以从那时候起,他们就是需要。。。有一句话是[唇竭齿寒]。。。就是牙齿之间必须有一个东西或者他们一颗一颗就分的出来,所以政治的要求和国防的要求是[中国的领导们]会在边界,就是在亚洲,把他们的情况稳定下来。所以在五十年代,[中国的领导们]根本对于非洲的情况根本不感兴趣,而且非洲在那时候还算是属于西方的帝国国家(英国、法国等等)的殖民地,还没有[得到]独立。。。一直到60年代的时候。非洲的国家独立的时候,它们有一个很大的选择:对于它们来说不是很大的选择,对于中国来说是很大的选择。是新独立的国家要认大陆还是认台湾, 要认中华民国还是要认中华人民共和国。为了促进能进入联合国(The UN),大陆就是希望跟新独立的国家、南美洲的国家有好的关系,但是在那时候台湾还是在西方收到了支持,[而且]还是站在联合国的很重要的地位,所以[中华人民共和国]就开始在非洲和中东的国家提供支援。一般用的是人,也用的是财金,就是为了支持和得到支持,是从这些非洲的国家得到支持。六十年代[中国领导们]的主要在非洲的目标是得到其他国家的支持而为了促进毛泽东思想,所以在一些国家有毛泽东思想的军队是从中国受到了影响,后来[我可以更多]讲一点。

但,中国1966年进入了文化大革命的时代。然后,这对非洲的影响很大,因为很多的非洲的领导想[中华人民共和国]会[作为发展的模型],但是文化大革命闹了之后,[非洲的领导]对于中国失去了信心,而且[中华人民共和国]再也没有办法可以继续对于其他的国家提供帮助。到了70年代,[据]74年[的统计],中国对于其他国家的支援已经占了7%的中央政府的收入,所以很多。慢慢就开始减小了,而且[当中国]进入了改革开放的时代 --我们说的是78年之后--中国中央政府(说共产党吧),他们跟想发展国家[国内]经济也想保持社会稳定。所以,从[70年代]一直到[90年代中国]进入了重内轻外的时代。从那时候开始,[中华人民共和国]把在非洲的活动就缩小了,但是还存在,而且有更多的国家开始认台湾,所以从台湾受到了帮助。有很多的国家用了大陆和台湾为了得到更多的好处, 就像用美国和苏联,或者像现在它们利用中国也利用西方的国家[让他们竞争]。

不过,在90年代之后,中国的对外国的支援又发生了一个很大的改变,这个改变可以用四个字来形容:《双方有益》。《双方有益》有什么意思?不仅是中国要给予帮助,而且中国要给非洲国家帮助的话,也应该是对中国经济、企业、和中国的文化有好处的。所以在[90年代]开始。。。以前[中国提供的支援都是拨款]不必须[还],但现在有拨款也有贷款。所以现在也包括利润,也包括私立公司的投资。所以在90年代你可以看有很多国有企业也有私立公司开始在非洲和其他国家投资,然后中央政府是想帮助那些商人在其他的国家找到一个地位。而且在非洲90年代有很多的内战,是比较乱的时代。没有很多其他的国家(包括美国、其他。。。发达的国家)要在这个环境下开始做生意。所以中国正好就进入了这个比较特殊的情况[并而]得到了一些机会。为了促进中国的公司进入[非洲的]市场,中央政府就对于那些国家提供了支援,但是它们是专门利用中国的公司,比方说它们要建体育场 --非洲所有的首都都是有体育场, 有时候是中国[建筑 ]的 --它们用中国的一家建筑公司来建体育馆、飞机场、修铁路,这都是用国家的企业与国家的公司。不过,这也对于非洲[国家]的政府有三个好处:








最近二十年,西方国家给予帮助的时候,他们[所有西方国家]用同样的政策。比方说,你提供的帮助时,必须有报告,必须有透明性。发达的国家(包括日本,包括。。。我觉得台湾快要进入)OECD 都有同样的一个[系统]。(OECD 是发达国家的代表组织)。[而且系统]的要求比较严格。但是中国从来没有参加过这些谈会,从来没有同意过要是提供帮助,必须是这么做的,所以[中国]不遵守其他国家(包括OECD) 的规则。

所以,对于西方的媒体和西方的政府来说,中国在非洲的影响会是坏影响,而且受到了媒体的批判。我个人 --而且我应该提前跟你们说: 我所有讲的都是我个人的想法,不是代表美国政府,也不是代表美国和平队。我个人的想法是[西方媒体的批判是]有点道理,但是,在大部分,这个话题是有点夸奖了。因为美国也有一些方面--我们提供帮助一般是提供美国食品,所以我们也用自己的食品为了购买其他的国家,也不能说中国[的做法]跟我们以前或者现在完全不同的。

所以我就是想从一个很抽象[国家]的关系的[话题]调到了很具体的人与人的关系的[话题]。我讲[过]中国政府和非洲政府,但是在政府层及之下有很多的中国的商人。他们不是在大使馆上班,而他们就是在社会里面做生意。他们必须天天跟非洲人接触,所以他们的故事,我觉得是更好来形容、来了解中非关系。然后我就是要用我的在莱索托的经验来分析中国商人的故事。首先开始看一些照片儿 - 你们别睡觉了!你还记得,我说的是南非中间是莱索托,[那]莱索托到底是什么样子?你们想是什么样子了?莱索托是非洲[的]国家,很热吧?!很潮湿!然后有很多的狮子,有很多的动物,野性动物应该很多吧。但,具体来说,莱索托是一个高原、山脉、是一个[比较冷]、比较干燥的国家。我给[你们]看我住的地方的照片。这是冬天的样子。。。冬天的时候 (一个荒凉的干草的风景),你看是月亮[的风景]你看环境,觉得没有人住,你可能觉得是俄罗斯Siberia 地区。人口比较大。[尽管]是一个小的国家,它人口有两百万。因为面积比较小,而且大部分是山区,它是属于人口住在谷里面,而且这是谷里面的照片。虽然冬天是这个样子,夏天是这个样子(一个绿色草原的风景)。莱索托是草原的国家,而且它的资本不多。它地下有钻石,但是地上什么都没有了。在美国,跟德州或者Oklahoma比较之下差不多一样,从环境和气候的角度,如果是想跟中国的地区比,我觉得是像甘肃东边也跟陕西很相似。所以中国人要[来]这个国家有什么目的?

中国的[商人]在[莱索托]真的是顺气商业机会。但是这样的国家能提供什么样的经济机会呢?具体,经济的机会是商店。原来莱索托是属于非洲之南的[王国],英国和荷兰人做过四个不同的殖民地,然后这些四个殖民地在[1912]年连起来了[变成了]南非,但是没有包括莱索托,而且因为有Apartheid 的种族歧视,所以莱索托从来没有进入南非。现在就是一个独立的国家。不过,[莱索托]全部被南非包围了。而且,独立的时候,它也不要独立,它要英国呆[着],但是英国[当时]离开非洲,而[莱索托]必须独立的。它独立的时候,基本上什么经济都没有。它经济全是依靠南非。大部分的男人曾经在南非打过工,尤其是在南非的矿场打工。然后他们的工资一般是用来买南非的农业产品和工业产品,所以他们先去南非,然后。。。后来[从南非进口东西]。他们没有很多贸易也没有工业。原来是印度人 - 南非的印度人 - 进入那边开始做生意。中国人90年代到了莱索托的时候他们最大的竞争对手是印度人而不是当地人。





我跟他们讲话的时候有。。。限制因为他们不用普通话讲,他们是用福州话。也有,一些人,他们没有读完小学,有的人没有读完高中、初中。一般他们是属于。。。在中国是属于中等社会阶级。他们的收入够高他们可以出国- 如果有帮助,而且他们是城市居民为主,但是因为没有高中或者大学文凭,而且没有很多的资本,他们在中国的市场里面没有很多的竞争力,所以就决定了要出国。他们一般出国的时候有18到20岁,而是跟他们父母或者叔叔,或者他们所说的《叔叔》亲戚朋友之类的,为他们工作。他们刚开始,一般是单身来的,然后呆了几年之后开始发财,有自己的商店,他们肯定就要去中国结婚[并]把妻子的带回来。一般可以看出来变化,因为他原来是一个人,男孩都在一块儿,不过[结婚了]以后他们就是每天送货,然后他妻子是管理商店。他们生活条件不算很好,工作比较苦,因为他们大概一年364天-圣诞节只有一天他们放假-其他的时间都是在上班。一般每天十二个小时,所以他们工作条件不怎么样。不过,一般都有很多的当地人,如果要拉货、送货,要打扫卫生,肯定就是当地人做的。一般赚的钱,最低是3000人民币左右,然后最高要100万多。有一些人真的是发财了,这些人开了很多的小部[小卖部]。我给你们看的照片就是一个小买部,在农村,但是这个小买部肯定是属于一个大型超市,在城市里的超市[的系统]。(看照片:有中国人在门口)。



第一个反应是见到货很便宜,他们一定要去买。因为中国[商人]的货,不仅是因为中国的劳动便宜,而且是因为中国的商人连起来的,把这些货的[价格]和仲介费都压低了。所以他们一定在中国的超市买东西,但是他们一边再抱怨中国人对于他们经济的影响。你可以看他们又是要又是不喜欢。你看,跟美国的瓦尔玛(Walmart)差不多一样吧。我们抱怨Walmart做什么,但是要便宜的话,我们都去那边买。这个是同样的问题,但是也有一些非洲和印度的商人特别不满意,而且他们的权力还是比较强。所以,他们在莱索托开始有政府官员开始对[中国]的商人表示一种怀疑的态度。现在,因为中国商人正在跟其他的中国商人竞争,而不是跟当地的商人竞争,随意他们如果要继续在食品、超市做生意的话,他们肯定[不会有]像以前那么高的利润。所以他们就想在别的企业里面投资。这个是一个很好的机会,如果他们只是占零售企业 --零售企业,因为所有的产品都是进口的,[所以]他的经济的影响不大。[比方说]这个手机可能是。。。我买20块,然后卖给你25块,我赚了5块钱,但是如果我是产生手机的话,全25块钱都是受到了。所以非洲最需要的不是商人来做买卖,而是商人来投资做工业。为了大众提供劳动机会,我很高兴看到有一些中国商人开始在建筑产品--说的是砖头,说的是水泥,也有石块开始有一些小型的工厂。这些工厂会代来更多工作的机会。如果是变成了投资人的话,他们很容易会收到非洲人的欢迎,但是现在又是欢迎,又是抱怨,又是[偶尔]闹乱的。



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