I’m setting out on a journey across three continents in search of one of the biggest stories of our age. The unstoppable global rise of China. Throughout the world, Chinese industry and wealth are shifting the balance of power. On this first stage of my journey, I’ll be crossing Africa, where a million Chinese people are helping transform the continent. I’ll be joining the legions of construction workers from China building vast new structures across Africa. This is hard work. I’m travelling from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean to meet the pioneers of this extraordinary migration.
THEY SING I’ll be finding out from Africans what they think about the influx of Chinese. We have seen the way they are treating Zambians. And I’ll be hearing some tall tales. You’re telling me the Chinese are selling inflatable chickens Yes. ‘I’ll be investigating allegations of human rights abuses in one of the world’s most dangerous countries.’ Why do you not employ. Please, no filming! And asking just how the rise of China is changing Africa. What will it mean for the rest of the world.
The port of Luanda in the capital of Angola is one of the busiest in Africa. ‘Cruising round the harbour, the Chinese influence strikes you straight away. ‘These Chinese sailors offered to share their lunch.’ Oh, wow, so this is. this is steamed bread Oh, delicious. Yeah, it’s lovely. It’s delicious. No, it’s nice, it’s very nice. Have you tried the African food You’ve not tried the African So you. The food is delicious, really delicious. Look at this! ‘This Chinese barge crew weren’t just visiting. ‘They’ve been living in Angola for the past 18 months.’.
What do you think of the food ‘But their cooking wasn’t yet very popular with the locals.’ What is this This is Chinese bread. It’s good, take some. No He doesn’t want to try it. ‘The port’s commercial director, Domingos Fortes, was more impressed with the Chinese attitude.’ How hard do the Chinese people here work Er, they are, they work very hard. Really I can assure you that they work 24 running hours, all the time. Do Angolans work as hard as Chinese people Not! THEY LAUGH.
But we are. but also we are, we are following. Yeah. The same steps, yeah, step by step. ‘The Chinese crew were unloading a Chinese ship laden with goods from China. ‘What I was witnessing was just part of an explosion of trade between China and Africa. ‘It’s grown tenfold in the last decade and last year, it was worth over 100 billion.’ In another part of the harbour, I spotted a clue to the driving force behind all this trade. An oil tanker. ‘Angola has vast oil reserves and is now China’s largest supplier,.
‘shipping a million barrels of the stuff every single day. ‘And that brings Chinese companies and their workers flooding here.’ What is this ship bringing into Angola Cement, 44,000. 44,000 tons That’s like. enough cement to build one of these highrise buildings But it’s not enough. It’s not enough for Angola You want more! We need more, more, more. There are tens of thousands of Chinese construction workers in Angola. There are 600 on this site alone. Now, the Chinese construction worker is legendary for his capacity for hard work, as I’m about to discover.
Because they’ve invited me to join them for the day. So, er, here goes. What about me, guys Have you got a job for me ‘Lao Bao, one of the site foremen for the Nantong Sijian Construction Group, ‘offered to show me the ropes.’ So, Mr Bao, what can I expect today TRANSLATION You must turn up to work on time and persevere, finishing all your tasks. When you rest, you rest, but when you are working, you must work hard. How about that Keep on hitting OK, what next This place is going to be a huge supermarket, there’s going to be a cinema, a spa area.
It’s cost hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars. And I’m helping build it. When it’s finished, this will be one of the biggest shopping centres in Africa. It’s just one of hundreds, probably thousands, of buildings in Angola being built by Chinese construction companies. The lunch break gives the workers a chance to get in touch with home. Lao Bao has been in Angola for two years. Each month he sends money home to his wife, over 7,000 miles away in Eastern China. Xiao Bao came with his father to work in Africa.
The wages here are twice what they’d get in China. But the workers pay a high price. So far from home, the men feel very isolated. TRANSLATION Normally, we only get to leave the site once a month. We don’t have any local friends because we don’t speak the same language. ‘Xiao Bao’s wife comes on the line.’ Hello, Tau Chu Fang, hello from the BBC in Angola. Hello. Oh, she speaks some English What is it like having a husband working all the way away in Africa Aww! ‘After lunch, Lao Bao drove me relentlessly on.
‘The vast majority of the workers on these Chinese construction sites are brought in from China ‘because of their reputation for speed and efficiency.’ Spin it round ‘I didn’t see many Angolans working here.’ Oh! This is hard work. The 20 a day these Chinese men earn would represent a huge wage for local workers. But instead, that money gets sent back to China. What’s the food like here, Mr Bao TRANSLATION It’s really good. It’s like in China, we eat rice. So here’s the crucial question. Will you give me a job.
TRANSLATION Given your performance today, you’re OK. You can work here. I’ve got the job! He seems a little bit reluctant, but he says, apparently, that I can have a job if I want. But I’ve only done a few hours’ work and I’ve actually got blisters on my fingers. These hands aren’t used to hard work. Thank you very much indeed. It’s been a really good day. The oil bonanza and the Chinese building projects make Luanda feel like a boom town. But unemployment among the locals is still high.
Even so, nearly all the Angolans I met here felt that the Chinese influx was a positive thing for the country. And Chinese influence isn’t restricted to the major cities, as I was about to discover. TRAIN HORN BLARES TRAIN HORN BLARES ‘It was time to head inland on the next leg of my Chinese odyssey across the continent.’ It’s six in the morning and we’ve got an exciting day ahead of us. Today we’re travelling on one of the great railways of Africa. This, the Benguela railway, stretches right into the heart of the continent.
‘Once aboard, I was in for a surprise.’ Look at this incredible carriage that the railway company have laid on for us. Part of the original rolling stock, British rolling stock. Because this railway was built by the British, they brought in labour from across the empire, from Africa and India, to build this incredible construction, all the way up to the valuable copper belts in the centre of Africa. And now the Chinese are helping to reconstruct it. ‘The grandlynamed China Railway Bureau Group Number 20 has been renovating this line,.
‘which will eventually stretch from the Atlantic coast 840 miles inland. ‘It was time to abandon the luxury of first class and head down to join the other passengers.’ Wow, it really is a different world down here, isn’t it And there are hundreds of people on the train, basically small businesspeople travelling up and down the line, doing a bit of business, selling a bit of oil, fish, tomatoes, charcoal, whatever they’ve got, trying to make a living. ‘And the renovated railway seemed to be generating some very vigorous trade.’.
SHOUTING AND CLAMOURING Look how busy business is! They seem to be selling onions, but they’re also selling sea salt, which, up here in the mountains, is really valuable. ‘The locals seem to have no doubt about the value of the work the Chinese are doing on the railway.’ You’re pleased with them You thank them for the work they’ve done Are you making a bit more money now What a train! ‘The renovation of this railway is directly linked to the oil I saw being shipped out of Luanda harbour.
‘In return for the oil, China provides billions of dollars of loans and cheap finance to Angola. ‘Some of that money is then spent on infrastructure projects like this, ‘carried out by Chinese companies, mostly with Chinese workers. ‘Some 100 miles inland from the Atlantic, we pulled into the town of Cubal.’ This is where the train stops, this is effectively the end of the line. They’re doing repairs further on up, so it doesn’t go any further. ‘Unlike the private construction company that welcomed me in Luanda, the railway project is being run.
‘by a Chinese state company. ‘And the Chinese state can be sensitive about how its increasing involvement in Africa is perceived.’ These tracks were laid by a Chinese company and we’d love to talk to them about the work they’ve been doing here in Angola. But they won’t give us an interview, and it’s a similar pattern with lots of other Chinese companies. Although they’re doing good work here, they don’t seem to want to talk about it. The incredible thing is this excellent new line stretches miles up here, all the way up to Huambo.
‘Perhaps it’s because some critics have seen these kind of deals as onesided in favour of China. ‘Yes, the Angolans get a refurbished railway, ‘but the Chinese get the oil and the lucrative construction contracts. ‘The Chinese have a saying. To end poverty, build a road. ‘The next section of railway is still work in progress.’ So instead, I took one of the thousands of roads the Chinese have built across Africa. I was heading to Huambo. Angola’s second largest city was once a colonial gem. But like much of the country, Huambo was devastated.
By the 30year civil war, which ended less than ten years ago. ‘Hundreds of thousands fled intense battles here. ‘The city’s railway yard, once the largest in Africa, remains frozen in time from the precivil war era. ‘For decades, Angola was a forgotten, wartorn land, desperately poor. ‘Now the oil boom and Chinese trade are helping to fund reconstruction. ENGINE REVS ‘But giant construction projects are only one part of the Chinese involvement in Africa.’ Whoa, how does it feel Yeah, it’s nice! ‘Ju Weijun is one of a small army of Chinese entrepreneurs setting up in Africa.
‘He left Qingdao in North Eastern China in 2004 to seek his fortune in Africa. ‘Since then, he’s built up a chain of stores, selling everything from shoes to motorcycles.’ So, do your motorcycles, do you think they help people here in Angola TRANSLATION Yes, people can generate work from these, inexpensive, useful motorbikes. And increase their standard of living. ‘Ju Weijun’s pioneering spirit is truly remarkable. ‘He arrived here just two years after the end of the brutal civil war.’ Wow, these places are so badly damaged. TRANSLATION Yes, this is what’s left of a building after the war.
The whole place was like this following the war. Just look at the damage. The shell marks up there. God, it’s terrible. Must have been appalling fighting here. ‘He believes that some Western companies are still too scared to do business here. TRANSLATION In Angola, there are loads of opportunities. But a lot of Western countries and established companies have to carry out lots of risk assessments. And only if they pass these can they invest here. It’s not so complicated for Chinese people, we’re more flexible. ‘For Ju Weijun, that meant leaving his young family behind in China.’.
TRANSLATION I wanted to have a challenge in life. I wanted to go abroad and see the world. I think my business is really significant, for two reasons. Chinese people get work and can feed their families through exports to Angola. Whilst Angolans get jobs and products they need. This is more meaningful than me just making money. ‘Ju Weijun is one of more than a million Chinese now thought to live in Africa. ‘It’s a phenomenon that could have a major impact on the future of this continent. ‘Angolans have welcomed Chinese roads and railways,.
‘but in some African countries, the Chinese presence is more controversial.’ I was heading for neighbouring Zambia and one of the most spectacular views imaginable. This is incredible! What a privilege, flying over one of the greatest sights in the world, the mighty Victoria Falls. ‘Tourism is one of Zambia’s most important industries. ‘The country has fantastic scenery, ‘great weather and of course, animals. ‘Cruising up the Zambezi, I met a couple who represent part of this tourism boom.’ How common is it for Chinese people to travel to places like Africa, to come abroad.
I think much more than before. It’s maybe not very common, but more people come out to see the world. And why is that Maybe the people get rich, and also get more information, the different culture from another country. Maybe some different friends. And what did your family think Were they worried you might be eaten by a lion No, no, no. Or a crocodile Yes, but I’m so far away from them! ‘The Chinese make up one of the fastest growing tourist sectors ‘globally, and will be increasingly important to countries like Zambia.
‘But there are aspects of Chinese culture that represent a threat ‘to the very wildlife the tourists come to see. ‘Back on dry land, I had an appointment with Zambian Wildlife Authority rangers ‘in the world’s fifth largest national park, Kafue.’ I think he’s seen some elephant, behind this clump of trees here. We’re just going to move in and see if we can get a bit closer, but the elephant in this park are quite nervous, so they don’t like people. They tend to run away. Wilfred! How many elephants are there.
Er, there’s a herd of approximately 17 elephants. Look, some babies, yeah. A number of babies, you know. It’s a nursery herd, which, you know, mostly they’re in family units of just a matriarch, sisters, and their young ones. ‘In the last five years across Africa, ‘increasing numbers of elephants have been killed for their ivory. ‘No wonder this herd seemed so nervous. ‘The international trade in ivory is illegal, ‘but in recent years, the price of ivory on the black market has been soaring. ‘Elephants in Zambia have not suffered as badly.
‘as neighbouring countries, but they’re still at risk.’ So what’s so special about ivory Yeah, what these guys do is they get the ivory and then they chop it into pieces, and after doing that, they actually make, you know, various articles from it. As you can see now, we’ve got these also. This is a tusk. You kill an elephant just to go and carve an elephant, you want to look at these elephants and not the actual elephant, so this is really bad. You can also see some other things that we have. These.
.Are chopsticks. Chopsticks. Which markets do you think these chopsticks would go to Probably China. This is called a hanko, and the Chinese actually use this to make signatures, you know, as a stamp. Oh, it’s a stamp. So this would be exported to China and then they’d carve it in China Yeah. The major buyers of these things come from the Far East. We’ve come to a wonderful place. We’ve come to an elephant orphanage. It’s run by Sport here. Now, what it does is it takes baby elephants whose mothers have been killed or injured in the bush.
And it brings them here and you nurture them back to health and hopefully, as they get older, you release them back into the wild. That’s the plan, Justin, yes. And here they are. Look at them what lovely creatures. God, they’re quite big for babies! Yeah. Just sit quietly. Aah! Oh, they are lovely. ‘Three of the orphans here lost their parents at the hands of poachers. ‘The youngest elephant, Rufunsa, needs to be bottlefed milk every three hours.’ He’s still a suckler. Oh, is he Oh, look at him!.
He’s only about five or six months old. Oh, he’s starving. He’s very hungry. Take that. There’s little breather hole there which. So what do I do Just put it in his mouth there. Oh, he’s ready for it. And hold it quite tight, yeah. He’s quite, he’s quite. pushy! Come on. There you go, Rufunsa. Once he gets it. Push it a bit. Oh, how cute is he So how old is he We estimate about five to six months old. Right.
He and his herd swam across from Zambia to Mozambique and the mother got stuck in some mud and she was poached there. She was poached Yeah, she was shot. So this is kind of elephant heaven Yeah. This is as good as it gets, on a hot day like this. So how vulnerable are these elephants to poaching We do provide the elephants with protection. But you can have the best antipoaching team in the world but there’ll always be that threat from poaching, so long as that demand is there.
‘The Chinese authorities take a hard line against the ivory trade, ‘but ivory goods remain popular in the Far East. ‘Chinese demand for other wildlife products, including rhino horn ‘and tiger parts, threaten other species around the world. ‘Unable to stem the demand, Sport Beattie is working with the Zambian Wildlife Authority ‘to involve local communities in the protection of the elephants, to stop the poaching at source.’ The fact that these elephants are here shows there is still a threat, despite the best efforts of the Zambian authorities, from poachers, and let’s just hope that when these animals are released back into the wild,.
They manage to survive. Beautiful things, really incredible. Hello! Woohoo! ‘To the south of Kafue National Park lies a country ‘where the Chinese presence has been highly controversial. ‘Across the Zambezi river is Zimbabwe. ‘The country has been ruled for 30 years by Robert Mugabe. ‘Western governments have imposed sanctions because of the regime’s terrible record on human rights. ‘China has been a supporter of Zimbabwe’s embattled president on the international stage.’ This is as close to Zimbabwe as we can get. We’d hoped to see for ourselves what China is doing in the country,.
But the Zimbabwean Government told us we’re not welcome. ‘The Chinese Government opposes sanctions and says it has ‘a policy of not interfering in the internal affairs of African nations. ‘This has caused conflict with Western governments opposed to Mugabe. ‘Thousands of President Mugabe’s opponents have suffered political repression, beatings and killings. ‘I met two men who fled Zimbabwe, fearing for their lives. ‘They agreed to speak, so long as their identities were protected.’ How important do you think the support of countries like China for the Mugabe regime has been.
The Chinese say, Listen, you know, it’s not for us to judge the way other countries run their own internal affairs. Why should we get involved ‘With its own distinctly dubious record, ‘the Chinese Government is hardly likely to fight for human rights in Africa. ‘And some of the continent’s worst rulers have found in China a convenient political ally. ‘But Western governments also do business with despotic regimes when it suits their interests. ‘Zambia is a peaceful, democratic country. ‘Lusaka is its capital. ‘Just as in Angola, the Chinese community has been growing quickly here in Zambia.
‘Most of the Angolans I’d met seemed to welcome the Chinese. ‘I’d heard that it was a bit different here in Zambia. ‘Chinese influence extends deep into Zambian society. ‘Right down to the food on Zambian dinner plates.’ Now, they say you have to wake up early in business to beat the Chinese. And that’s certainly true here at Lusaka Market, because the Chinese chicken farmers have been here since one o’clock in the morning. Hello, sir. Hello, sir. How are you this morning ‘In the middle of the market, I met Pan Wei Zhi, one of dozens of Chinese chicken sellers.’.
TRANSLATION Most of the chicken traders are Chinese, but probably in the future, there will be more Zambians selling chickens here. When that happens, we’ll change trades. That’ll be fine. But the crucial thing is, is it a tasty chicken Does this chicken taste good TRANSLATION It’s delicious. It’s quite tender. If you stirfry it for around ten minutes it’ll be really good. It’s very tender. Pan Wei Zhi invited me out to his chicken farm on the outskirts of Lusaka. His pens were filled with thousands of chickens. He and his wife, Fang Fa Qiang, travelled 7,000 miles to Africa.
Because they’d heard it was easier to do business here than in China. I was making household furniture but I didn’t have large amounts of money so I had difficulties. In China there are also lots of opportunities, but the competition is fierce. TRANSLATION I like it here. At my age in China, I can’t do any serious work. But here, I don’t feel old. I can still do something. So what has changed in China that means that people like you are now coming out and setting up businesses around the world.
We’re richer and more powerful than before, so Chinese people now feel safe and relaxed to go overseas. When I was younger, Chinese people abroad were bullied by foreigners so people didn’t go overseas much, but now that doesn’t happen. In the future, it’s certain that more and more Chinese people will go abroad. The couple employ a small group of Zambians on the farm, who each get paid around 40 a month. After working with some Zambians for a while, we’ve started to feel for each other. They’ve become more responsible employees.
They’ve got some habits, like drinking alcohol. Too much. I say to them, don’t drink it’s bad for your liver and your health. The morning after, they get up, they don’t know if it’s day or night. We feel really angry. How can you drink so much when you’re coming to work But if we teach them, they do listen to us. Do you find it difficult to work for a Chinese boss It’s easy to work for him, to help him to do better in his business. So you feel as if you’re part of a team You’re working together.
Yeah. We work together in a team. ‘I wasn’t sure how free these men felt talking in front of their boss ‘but it was clear that this chicken farm was providing some jobs for Zambians. ‘But I’d heard that many Zambian chicken traders resented the Chinese competition.’ Can you understand why some Zambians are quite angry They say, why has a Chinese man come halfway around the world to set up a chicken farm in competition with Zambians More competition will spur them on to be more competitive. Chinese goods are cheap.
People say it’s because they’re cheap that a lot of factories and businesses have closed. It’s a problem faced by America and a lot of other developed countries too, and it’s unavoidable. But the Chinese also bring many advantages. Back at the market, I tracked down some of the Zambian chicken sellers. Jacob Mulenga showed me around. We are finding that all our customers have bought the chicken from the Chinese farmers. They get there first Yeah. They’re in there too early Yeah. And how much business do you think you’ve lost here.
Almost 99. We have just remained with only 1. I have two chickens here. Show me. This is the chickens which is kept by a Zambian farmer. I have a second chicken here, which I bought from a Chinese farmer. As you can see, it’s reddish. Yeah, it’s a little bit red. Yes, what about this one It’s fine. This is strong. ‘Rumours were being put about that the Chinese were doing ‘strange things to accelerate the growth of their chickens.’ Because this chicken is inflated, OK What do you mean, inflated.
What I mean by inflated, they push, they boost them, they put, actually, a lot of stuffs which will make their flesh to be looks bigger. Sort of swell up Yes, the bodies swell up. You’re telling me the Chinese are selling inflatable chickens Yes, sir. Definitely. Aaaah! My chickenhandling skills aren’t good enough. This strong. I’ll tell you what. This is strong. It’s a strong chicken! The only thing for it is the taste test. We taste the difference.
OK, we’re going to taste the difference. Between the two chickens. Between these two chickens, OK. Between the Zambian, good, big chickens, and the badlooking Chinese chickens. Not that Jacob is biased, of course. The two chickens made the ultimate sacrifice to carry out the taste test. But this is a serious issue. These chicken sellers believe Chinese competition is destroying local business. It’s a worry for many Africans, that indigenous industries will be crushed by Chinese traders, harming weak local economies. Whilst waiting to see if I could taste the difference ,.
I chatted to Mildred, one of Jacob’s fellow traders. Are you surprised that people want to come all the way from China to be Zambian chicken farmers Yes, I’m surprised, because China’s a big continent, holding big people. They are not supposed to come and compete with us, with business here. They are supposed to boost our economy. And what’s happened to you since the Chinese were here What’s happened to you personally My business went low. I can’t even afford to look after my children. If they want to do small, small, small businesses,.
Let them go back to China and do those small, small businesses in China, not here. The Chinese chicken farmers may be a threat to traders like Mildred but other Zambians do benefit. Competition in chickens, as in other goods, tends to mean lower prices for consumers. We have two types of chickens in my hand. The taste test begins. We’re starting with the Chinese chicken, OK We’ll take a bit. Oh, it’s nice. It’s crisp on the outside. You’ve cooked it very nicely. It’s quite tough. It’s quite tough. Can you taste now the Zambian chicken I certainly can taste.
Oh, now that feels a little bit more tender to me. It does look whiter. OK. No, the taste. The taste test. Which one taste good between the two now Wait, wait! Now, I’m going to be honest with you. OK. OK, I’m going to be honest about this. We’ve done the taste test, now. The Zambian chicken tastes better. Better. Yay! OK, you are saying the Zambian chicken tasted better. What about the Chinese chicken There is a problem. We should have gone to the Chinese and said, give us your best chicken.
OK. And we should have taken a good Chinese chicken and obviously this is a wonderful Zambian chicken it’s delicious but I’m not sure that you’ve been fair to the Chinese chickens, that’s my problem. So here we go. Who wants to do the taste test Who would like to do the taste test ‘I was concerned for Jacob and his fellow traders. ‘They didn’t appear ready to rise to the challenge of the cheap Chinese chickens.’ So who’s had Zambian Zambian chicken, there you go. But the real money in Zambia isn’t in chickens.
It was time to head out of Lusaka, 200 miles north towards a region that has long been coveted by foreign powers. Zambia, or Northern Rhodesia, as it was known, was a British colony, and there’s a good reason that the British wanted to control this place. Zambia is sitting on top of an extraordinary resource one of the largest seams of copper in the world. It’s hundreds of kilometres wide in places, and there’s reckoned to still be hundreds of billions of dollars worth of copper still in the ground.
Here in Luanshya, in the heart of the copper belt, a Chinese company now owns the mine. This town and its mine used to be run by the British and 46 years after independence, their legacy is still apparent, if you look closely enough. 5,000 white people once lived and worked here, taking advantage of the splendid leisure facilities. A few, very few, stayed on. Oh, it’s locked. It’s locked. Reg and Win Hughes have lived here for more than 50 years. They don’t like what the Chinese have done to the facilities they used to enjoy.
Did you have big events here Oh, New Year’s was THE brilliant event and what was so wonderful about it is there’d be a thousand people here. A thousand people right here, coming to the ballroom Yes. So Reg, what happened to this place then This was the ballroom. Well, recently, when the new owners came in they decided to renovate, they took the floor out, which was that beautiful, wooden sprung floor, I don’t know what’s happened to that, but what a waste. Who has done all this The new owners of the mine, the Chinese.
And it looks like they’ve just turned it into a badminton court for their own use, because it’s locked up, nobody can come in here except them. It’s actually quite wellpreserved, you know Yes, not bad. And what kind of a life was it growing up here, eh Magic. Adventurous. Absolutely magic. Unbelievable. No matter what sport, game you wanted to play, it was there. And not only A facility, a top facility. All the Chinese want is profit, profitorientated, take what they can out of the country, out of the mine, but put as little as possible back.
But they’d say, hold on a second, we’re a mining company, we’re not here to run a social club. Well, I think it’s important that they do look after their employees, and of course there are the Luanshya residents as well, who have in the past always enjoyed the facilities of the mine. Everything’s going to rack and ruin, everything’s dirty, full of litter, they don’t even employ anybody to pick up the litter. It’s sad. Do you feel sad about it Very sad. Very sad. The mine changed hands several times after the British era before closing down.
In 2009, it was taken over by the China NonFerrous Metal Mining Group. But the presence of Chinese mining companies in Zambia has become a major political issue. At other mines, there have been demonstrations about pay and conditions and violent clashes. Recently 11 Zambian protesters were shot by the Chinese managers at a coal mine. SINGING We’ve come across this rally right in the heart of Luanshya, these guys are supporters of the Patriotic Front. In the past, it’s been very vocal about the Chinese involvement here in Zambia, lots of local miners are members of the Patriotic Front.
‘People here are worried about pay and conditions at Chinese mines.’ Everyone here worked down the mine, is that right Yes. Everyone here worked in the mine The fact is, though, the mine was closed and now it’s open, that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it It doesn’t matter, the mine was closed, they’ve opened the mine, we have seen the way they are treating Zambians, that’s why I say the Chinese are useless in this. But every tonne of copper that is exported, the Chinese pay tax on.
That’s a huge contribution to the Zambian economy. No, no, it doesn’t matter, but they’re creating jobs in China, even if they are paying tax to Zambian government. They have to create employment for Zambians. How can we have Chinese coming from China driving a dumper truck Are you telling me there are no Zambians who can drive a forklift or a dumper truck Is this good treatment Is this, what we say, investment ‘The Chinese issue is a political hot potato here. ‘Mining accounts for half the economy of Zambia and the Chinese are major players.
‘The Chinese company running Luanshya’s mine has so far invested ‘1.4 billion in Zambia and created more than 6,500 jobs for locals.’ This is a bit of a spot isn’t it, eh Beautiful spot, beautiful view. This is one of our favourite spots for a sundowner. A sundowner HE OPENS CAN Just fill it with vodka. THEY LAUGH We did ask if we could go in and visit the mine, but the Chinese owners said they were too busy rehabilitating it to give us time to show us around.
So unfortunately this, these tailings, are the best vantage point. The mine in Luanshya has a life of at least another 50 years. Perhaps the Chinese mining era here will last longer than that of the British. How many of the white people who used to work in the mine are left here in Luanshya now You can count them on your one hand, if that. Really Very few. How long do you guys reckon you’ll stay here in Luanshya Until we can put the lights out. You’ll be the ones to put the lights out Yeah.
Thanks a lot, guys, for inviting me up here. Cheers, Justin. Cheers. Thanks for inviting me up here. Cheers, my darling. To us, forever. Ha, cheers. From the relative calm of Zambia, I decided to follow the Chinese miners north and hitched a ride on a Congolese truck. I’ve left Zambia for the Congo with a load full of cement. It’s a really, really tough place to do business, but there can be incredible rewards for those who do. The Democratic Republic of Congo has vast reserves of copper, diamonds,.
Cobalt and other rare metals. But the struggle for that incredible wealth has left a history of terrible violence. The civil war that ended seven years ago killed millions of people. This is the Wild West of the mining world and the Chinese are major players here too. But it is the local people in Katanga who wage a primitive struggle to unearth this mineral wealth. This bleak landscape hides a maze of tunnels where men are digging out copper and cobalt. There are no machines here, just basic tools. Samwell is one of the men who makes his living.
In these unstable and dangerous earthworks. If you look at this, what we’ve got is a seam of cobalt, so this is one of the minerals that they’re looking for, but getting the cobalt is incredibly hard work. Samwell will work 11 hours a day, six days a week down in this mine, and I can tell you, conditions down here couldn’t be much more basic. It’s just a hole in the ground. Samwell sells the valuable minerals to the Chinese traders who are based in this remote region. Do you get good prices for the stuff that you find.
TRANSLATION These people are stealing from us because the price they pay is just 500 francs per kilo, for copper, which is nothing. These people are just crooks. It’s estimated that 90 of Katanga’s minerals go to China. Copper is just one of a growing list of commodities of which China is now the world’s largest consumer. Here, there are dozens of small Chinese businesses, smelting copper and exporting minerals. And just like in Zambia, there have been allegations that the local workers have faced abuse at the hands of their Chinese employers.
Jean Pierre Okenda is a local human rights activist. He’s investigated some of the Chinese companies in the area. TRANSLATION People are being exploited. Usually, companies don’t care for workers who’ve had an accident. From time to time, in all of the companies round here workers are physically abused. If the Chinese don’t improve conditions for Africans, particularly those of the Congolese, I believe we’ll have to kick them out, back to their own country. Time to do my own inspection. This smelter has one of the worst reputations of all the Chinese companies operating in this area,.
And we’re going in. We’ve got permission from the governor, from the local intelligence agency, to come and film in here, so we’re going to see if we can get in. Come on. ‘This is Congo Loyal Will Mining, a copper smelting company. ‘They didn’t want us to film.’ Let’s just walk in as deep as we can, OK No, we have permission here. MAN SPEAKS IN FRENCH No, no, monsieur, we have. We have permission here from intelligence, from the Governor. I’ll phone Jimmy first and then I’ll see. Who is Jimmy.
Jimmy’s in South Africa. Could you stop filming ‘The owner’s daughter came out to speak to us.’ The reason we’re here is because of the reports of poor standards, that standards with your workers are not good. Let me call Jimmy. That pay is bad. I’ll give you an answer in an hour. That there’s not enough safety equipment. I am not the one dealing with the media. Yeah, but you. Just give me one hour. Answer me, are the standards adequate.
Give me one hour. I’ll call you back. Why do you not provide safety equipment Give me an hour. Why do you not employ. Please do not film! Why do you not employ. One hour. In one hour you will tell us we cannot come in. No, no, no. The point is that your mother owns the company. OK, let’s go in there. She owns the company, she can tell us. ‘Our camera was pushed outside. ‘Jimmy turned up, but he didn’t answer any of my questions.
‘I never did get to see conditions inside the Chinese plant.’ The legacy of foreigners in the Congo has all too often been exploitation and abuse of human rights. Sadly, it seems that tradition is continuing. TRAIN WHISTLE I’m relieved to be out of the Congo and back on a train for the last leg of my journey. I’m in Tanzania, one of China’s closest allies in Africa, riding a short stretch of one of the longest railways on the continent. The TAZARA railway was built by thousands of Chinese labourers.
Back in the 1970s. Its construction was a source of huge pride in communist China. And older Chinese still remember the tales of the Chinese workforce braving lions and elephants to get the railway built. A small team of Chinese engineers still helps maintain the railway. How did you feel when it was suggested that you would come here to Africa to work on the TAZARA railway China’s relationship with Tanzania is one of the oldest and closest in Africa, dating back to an earlier era of socialist solidarity. China still gives Tanzania significant aid,.
But now it’s raw capitalism that drives the Chinese involvement here. At Dar es Salaam station, the end of the line, I met the deputy director of the railway, Damas Ndumbaro. How does China compare with other countries in terms of making investments in Africa Do you think the West in the past has felt Africa was its territory, and now the Chinese are coming in, they feel upset, maybe even a bit jealous Between the West and China After having travelled thousands of miles across this continent, it seemed to me that the West risks being left behind in Africa.
And what better place than the beautiful Indian Ocean coastline could there be to engage in some inner reflection about the Chinese view of the world T’ai chi on a Tanzanian beach. This is a.a novel aspect to the Chinese relationship with Africa. But after all I’ve seen, perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. Across this continent, more and more Africans are learning about the Chinese language and culture. Political and trading ties run deep here. For decades, the commercial involvement of the West in Africa has primarily been driven by multinational companies interested in exploiting the continent’s wealth.
Big Chinese companies do that too, but what feels so different about China’s engagement in Africa is the presence of so many entrepreneurs, setting up smaller businesses in the African market. It seems that supposedly communist China is bringing capitalism to Africa on a huge scale. Zhu Hanqun, the owner of this plate factory in Dar es Salaam, is keen for me to understand the basics of the free market. TRANSLATION You can come to China, you can start a company in China. So many Europeans and people from all over the world have started companies in China.
Many countries are now looking to China for development, because we’ve got a huge market. We’re looking to foreign markets and the West is looking to China’s market. China’s going out into the world will not be a threat to other countries, people shouldn’t have this idea. The nature of Chinese people is very kindhearted. This looks all right to me. I think it looks quite good. The message from Africa is that the Chinese are well and truly here to stay. In the inauspicious interior of shed seven of Dar es Salaam port, I discovered a treasurehouse.
This is where much of the minerals from the Congo and Zambia end up. there’s literally millions of dollars’ worth of copper here, but also this stuff take a look at this. This is cobalt, that stuff I was mining back in the Congo, and this is heading off to be made into superstrong steels. So where’s all this stuff headed All this used to go to Europe and other parts of the world, but now this stuff is going to Far East, Asia, China. Mostly in China. So this ChinaAfrica trade has changed enormously recently.
Very, very much. The Chinese now have come down here to Africa to do a very, very big business, and they’re all over China, China, China. China, China, China. Yeah. THEY LAUGH Well, there we go. The Konrad Schulte headed out of port laden with manganese, copper and cobalt all bound for China now the world’s second largest economy, and still booming. A single thread links all the Chinese activities I’ve seen as I’ve travelled across Africa. It explains the vast state deals for key resources and the army of hundreds of thousands of individual Chinese entrepreneurs.
That thread is commerce. The Chinese don’t see poor countries in need of help and assistance here in Africa, they see business opportunities. They regard Africa as a vast potential market, and one thing is for certain the Chinese will claim as much of that market as they can. And if you think what China is doing here in Africa is impressive, think again. Because Africa is just one small part of the Chinese government’s strategy of going global. Next time, I travel to Brazil, a country getting rich by selling its vast natural resources to China.