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Admiral Zheng He's legacy in East Africa


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The long-awaited work to unravel the history of a Chinese vessel that sank in Kenyan waters more than 600 years ago is set to begin with the arrival of Chinese archaeologists. The national museums of China and Kenya have organised a joint archaeological dig on and around Lamu islands, where one of Chinese navigator Zheng He’s ships is believed to have sunk in the 15th Century.

http://www.nation.co.ke/News/regional/-/1070/965156/-/9a6t5r/-/

 

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The sunken ship is believed to have been part of a mighty armada commanded by Ming dynasty admiral Zheng He, who reached Malindi in 1418. According to Kenyan lore, reportedly backed by recent DNA testing, a handful of survivors swum ashore. After killing a python that had been plaguing a village, they were allowed to stay and marry local women, creating a community of African-Chinese whose descendants still live in the area.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/25/kenya-china

 

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Herman Kiriama, Kenya's head of coastal archaeology, said he hoped the project would make some important findings about early relations between China and Africa. "It will be a big achievement because it will tell us a lot about what happened in the Indian Ocean before the European powers - Spain, Portugal - started their trading routes to India," he told the BBC. "We have a lot of mixed Chinese pots dating back to that period so we know the ship must have sailed sometime here".

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-10761840

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What makes you think it is limited to East Africa?

These blokes are buying up and investing BIG in Africa as a whole.

 

What they were doing in Mozambique and Angola was both impressive and worrying, and it is only a small part of their efforts.

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What makes you think it is limited to East Africa?

These blokes are buying up and investing BIG in Africa as a whole.

 

What they were doing in Mozambique and Angola was both impressive and worrying, and it is only a small part of their efforts.

 

Exactly so.

 

The Next Empire

All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built,ports deepened, commercial contracts signed—all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities seems insatiable. Do China’s grand designs promise the transformation,at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/05/the-next-empire/8018

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Exactly so.

 

The Next Empire

All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built,ports deepened, commercial contracts signed—all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities seems insatiable. Do China’s grand designs promise the transformation,at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/05/the-next-empire/8018

 

Good article. I have friends who are making some great inroads in supporting Chinese operations, applying their logistics experience and stripping assets from failed American projects.

 

We've gotten fat and lazy importing new citizens to build acres of vinyl McMansions out in the sticks, and the Chinese are investing in capital producing infrastructure all over the world.

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Fair point. Ironic when we put so much effort into halting the Soviets in Africa, then roll over when China starts buying it up.

 

As a side note, I wonder what Africa would look like today if the Chinese had colonized it, as opposed to Europeans? it clearly COULD have happened.

 

Not at that time. They were as subject to Africa's diseases as Europeans. It wasn't until the late 19th century that Europeans were able to live in other than coastal enclaves of Africa.

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Nice find, thanks for posting it up. I read a little about this voyage some time ago, but I thought the only trace they had found of it was the rudder reportedly from Zhengs flagship.

 

Tomas, there is some evidence that what China is up to in Eastern Africa is little more than colonialization. I cant criticize since ultimately they are only copying the lessons we taught them. Besides, they did get there first. :D

 

Though, if you take their arguments for the Spratleys with any credence, they'll lay claim to Kenya as their own territory.

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I retain great faith in Africa's ability to absorb and nullify any foreign attempts at changing the status quo.

 

In about a century, we'll be reading about how the great Chinese project to civilize and/or colonize Africa failed. About all that will really change will be the names of who's doing the exploiting, and the basic fact that Africa is Africa will triumph.

 

Even though the Chinese are exporting huge numbers of Chinese workers, the numbers pale in comparison to the local populations. Unless AIDS becomes exponentially more destructive, and the projections that vast swathes of the African countryside will become depopulated, I don't see things really changing anytime in our lifetimes.

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Not at that time. They were as subject to Africa's diseases as Europeans. It wasn't until the late 19th century that Europeans were able to live in other than coastal enclaves of Africa.

Weelll . . actually, the coastal enclaves were generally the unhealthy places, which was why there were few attempts to expand them for a few hundred years. Stay a few years, make money, & get out with it - if you survived. :(

 

Apart from in South Africa, where the Boers were well into the interior & thriving by the end of the 18th century, it wasn't until the late 19th century that Europeans got past the unhealthy coast into more salubrious inland regions, such as the Kenyan highlands.

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Even though the Chinese are exporting huge numbers of Chinese workers, the numbers pale in comparison to the local populations. Unless AIDS becomes exponentially more destructive, and the projections that vast swathes of the African countryside will become depopulated, I don't see things really changing anytime in our lifetimes.

 

Of course there is also the risk that the exported workers coming back home bring something nasty with them.

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I retain great faith in Africa's ability to absorb and nullify any foreign attempts at changing the status quo.

 

In about a century, we'll be reading about how the great Chinese project to civilize and/or colonize Africa failed. About all that will really change will be the names of who's doing the exploiting, and the basic fact that Africa is Africa will triumph.

 

Even though the Chinese are exporting huge numbers of Chinese workers, the numbers pale in comparison to the local populations. Unless AIDS becomes exponentially more destructive, and the projections that vast swathes of the African countryside will become depopulated, I don't see things really changing anytime in our lifetimes.

 

 

Unless the Chinese objective is two-fold : 1) exploit & extract the resources while 2) denying them to the West. They're not colonizing per se, they're setting up beachheads (which can be abandoned when they become economically unfeasible). Public works are not pro bono and, from what I see, only pushed as far as they support Chinese aims.

 

See also

http://aidwatchers.com/2010/02/china-in-africa-myths-and-realities/

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China has been buying...ahem... investing in Africa since the early days of Mao.

 

Nothing like the last five years.

 

 

I retain great faith in Africa's ability to absorb and nullify any foreign attempts at changing the status quo.

 

In about a century, we'll be reading about how the great Chinese project to civilize and/or colonize Africa failed. About all that will really change will be the names of who's doing the exploiting, and the basic fact that Africa is Africa will triumph.

 

Even though the Chinese are exporting huge numbers of Chinese workers, the numbers pale in comparison to the local populations. Unless AIDS becomes exponentially more destructive, and the projections that vast swathes of the African countryside will become depopulated, I don't see things really changing anytime in our lifetimes.

 

The Chinese aren't trying to colonise, civilise or otherwise bring any benefit to Africa as the British, and to a lesser extent the French did (or attempted to).

They want to dig them dry, pump them for cash and generally treat them like the savages they believe they are.

 

There is no 'enlightenment' as with British or French efforts to 'save' them.

 

Think more along the lines of Belgium's modus operandi, but with a global powerplay mixed into it.

 

It doesn't get as much press but India isn't far behind either, but somewhat less venal about it, but just as cynical none-the-less.

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Exactly so.

 

The Next Empire

All across Africa, new tracks are being laid, highways built,ports deepened, commercial contracts signed—all on an unprecedented scale, and led by China, whose appetite for commodities seems insatiable. Do China’s grand designs promise the transformation,at last, of a star-crossed continent? Or merely its exploitation? The author travels deep into the heart of Africa, searching for answers.

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/05/the-next-empire/8018

 

This wonderfully written article puts across oft-stated views about China's harmful exploitation of Africa.

 

But...

 

If Africans don't like either the Europeans colonial way or the Chinese way, what are we all supposed to do?

 

Sit around for another few thousand years to see if the minerals will get up out of the earth and make their own way to the sea ports?

 

Because the Africans are certainly incapable of doing anything with the minerals by themselves.

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Nothing like the last five years.

 

 

 

 

The Chinese aren't trying to colonise, civilise or otherwise bring any benefit to Africa as the British, and to a lesser extent the French did (or attempted to).

They want to dig them dry, pump them for cash and generally treat them like the savages they believe they are.

 

There is no 'enlightenment' as with British or French efforts to 'save' them.

 

How many Africans did Britain or France had to kill in their "enlightenment" efforts etc.

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How many Africans did Britain or France had to kill in their "enlightenment" efforts etc.

 

 

 

Just the right amount, not one more than needed, why do you ask?

 

 

 

 

 

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The question therefore should not be 'Is colonization or empire building any better by China than how you Europeans did it', but rather 'Is it still acceptable or commendable in the 21st Century'.

 

So, in doing business with the Africans China would end up colonizing Africa?

 

Wow. :blink:

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Look, nobody is suggesting that Britain or France, or that often overlooked but very bloody colonial power Belgium, were not responsible for some depicable acts of genocide or very questionable policies in Africa. Of course they did, no dispute there. You do have to ask yourself though, if we hadnt intervened in Africa, where would they be now? And the answer regrettably has to be 'A hell of a lot futher behind than they currently are'.

 

I was talking with a group of young 20 somethings and the subject of colonization came up. One was from Malaya. I asked him given the choice of being colonized by any of the western or easter powers which would he have preferred to have been colonized. He said he was happy with what the british left behind. He was quite happy they didn't get the Belgian treatment. :rolleyes:

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I was talking with a group of young 20 somethings and the subject of colonization came up. One was from Malaya. I asked him given the choice of being colonized by any of the western or easter powers which would he have preferred to have been colonized. He said he was happy with what the british left behind. He was quite happy they didn't get the Belgian treatment. :rolleyes:

You can include me in that group, too. I'm 40 something from Singapore, and Singapore would've been rubbish without the Brits.

 

But what I don't get is how China doing business with Africa will definitely lead to colonization.

 

If Jumping To Conclusions was an Olympics event, some people here will be Gold Medalists.

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IMO, Europeans of the day colonized Africa thinking that they would somehow be able to turn the place around. All well-intentioned as many here implied.

 

But today, we can see that - especially with the proliferation of cheap small arms - African nations can become slaughterhouses overnight.

 

No one, least of all the business-minded Chinese of today, will want anything to do with governing an African nation. And the hands-off policy is plainly evident especially in the report posted by BP.

 

Basically they want to make money and get out as soon as thing go awry. If the Africans feel cheated or do not want to do business with the Chinese, they can kick them out anytime. Far as I know, the only Chinese tanks in Africa are those that China SOLD to the Africans to use against whomever - including the Chinese themselves - that they see fit.

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So, in doing business with the Africans China would end up colonizing Africa?

 

Wow. :blink:

 

When HIV was predicted to decimate the native African population in the 1990s, there was a theory floated around by the intelligentsia that by 2015, the Indians would be filling the vacuum in Africa with their own surplus population.

 

Let's see : underpopulated landmass sitting on lots of natural resources, with the remaining population under-educated, prone to tribal warfare and parts of failed states.

 

If we discuss this in terms of Realpolitik, why wouldn't China do the same?

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Weelll . . actually, the coastal enclaves were generally the unhealthy places, which was why there were few attempts to expand them for a few hundred years. Stay a few years, make money, & get out with it - if you survived. :(

 

Apart from in South Africa, where the Boers were well into the interior & thriving by the end of the 18th century, it wasn't until the late 19th century that Europeans got past the unhealthy coast into more salubrious inland regions, such as the Kenyan highlands.

 

By coastal enclave, I am talking a trading or slaving fort on the coast.

 

The sea breeze kept the worst of the yellow fever carrying mosquitoes away.

 

Europeans did not venture into the lowlands to reach the "salubrious" highlands until the late 19th century.

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