China has undergone significant developments at both the economic and social stages, but the same carries environmental destruction and social conflict associated with the economy’s rapid renovation. The country’s efforts to embrace and match globalization standards make it stand as an idyllic model for other countries, as it claims prodigious pride and motivation. In addition to the numerous accomplishments in the country’s former few years, China has also had the capability to come up with an extremely empowering environment for business both locally and overseas, especially in Africa. This is attributed by the manner in which it automatically attracts foreign investment coupled with its political and security stability as well as existing legislations, which are balanced with enhancements in its economy besides the innovative economic sectors.
However, its fast developing economy has led to an intense growth in natural resource exploration in Africa. Chinese extractive corporations have carried out activities, which seem detrimental to the environment and have led to severe environmental harms as well as labor-related struggles in the host nations, thus drawing increasing international response. The advancement of Chinese international firms has a rather short account, therefore it is difficult to pinpoint their efforts towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), which a fresh model in the country. Chinese foreign extractive activities have increased radically. The main continents feeling the impact of their international natural resource exploitation activities are Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Chinese Investment in Africa and Environmental Impacts
China is a substantial partner for Africa in both economic and development issues. In the last ten years, China’s investment in Africa has substantially improved because of the mutual collaboration and governmental information flow between them and Africa along with an escalation in levels of trade as well as aid. For instance, in the year 2009, China became Africa’s biggest trading companion valued at US$91 billion, which was a tenfold growth from US$9 billion in the year 2000. Furthermore, the country’s investments in the continent have grown from US$220 million in 2000 to US$1.44 billion in 2009 (Bulzomi, 2013). However, this has led to more harm than good to the environment since China has majorly invested in industrial activities in Africa due to the continent’s richness in natural resources, which is deficient in the world’s most populous country, China. By investing through aid, donations, grants and loans to the money-hungry African governments, they seize major natural resources for exploration and exploitation without considering the probable impacts and legislative measures.
As illegal logging in the tropical forests of central Africa to fund the thriving Chinese economic activities progressively escalate, concurrently, the governments in those regions have mainly gone astray into addressing the occurrences outside their main metropolises (Cerutti, Assembe-Mvondo, German & Putzel, 2011). For example, the government of Mozambique has concentrated on coming up with politically correct plans to support the budget for aid provision, but enacts only poor performance objectives. Consulting corporations, appointed by the Chinese donors to develop the limited number of remaining projects, disregard the laid down measures, then conspire with them, to persist with the legal governmental processes for forthcoming projects.
The same Chinese donors emphasize on the need for sustainable environments and finance many policy evaluations, governance conferences and restructuring exercises. However, accounts illustrate that these developments can be removed almost indefinitely, thus delaying or thwarting implementation efforts (Mackenzie, n.d). In the meantime, environmental degradation, especially in forest resources carries on and once real transformation occurs, the economic potential will already be lost. In China, the timber drives flourishing furniture and timber products businesses, to nourish correspondingly expanding market demand locally.
China’s Environmental Policy in Africa
Harsh criticism has always been directed towards a number of Chinese economic players pursuing their industrial activities in Africa due to their purported environmental impact of their undertakings. Even though the environmental impacts are rarely documented, this practice is irregular in Africa, and ought to be associated with that of corporate players from various nations, especially those within the OECD. The most significant issue that explains the documented differences pertain to the policy and monitoring structure within which these corporate players, functions. Since the African countries’ capability to adopt and consequently implement the healthy standards is weak, the correlation of Chinese and African Countries’ environmental policies seem to be at loggerheads. On the other hand, the modification in the policies in China on environmental concerns is now creating certain changes for the state-owned corporations, as well as a growth in major concerns in the principal circles Asian mogul regarding the global reputation of the country in addition to its enterprises turning global (Compagnon and Audrey, 2013).
Since the Chinese have a way of following strictly their own business structures while operating overseas, this should give the African countries a key objective in championing for the restructuring the existing policies to be at par with theirs or completely changing or coming up with new environmental principles as well as policy sanctions. In the same way, it is broadly known that African countries have very weak authority regarding the governance of natural resources. In addition, there is an inadequate capability within African regimes to advance, apply and implement proper treaties and contracts along with the indispensable environmentally friendly and social principles, which are basically required to propel such investments.
If natural resources are not well governed, then when the Chinese present their significant trade and investment opportunities, no assurance will be realized concerning lasting development welfares to African associates. This can also lead to diminishing the potential of these nations to accomplish the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are key objectives for the African continent. A significant challenge with reference to the relationship between China and Africa is to make sure that business and investment contracts address long-standing development goals and establish environmentally friendly management ideologies as well as wise use of resources. Accomplishing these goals need methodologies that will safeguard an ecological resource base that caters for future generations. In addition, the approaches should have the capacity to address China’s resource requirements without pervasive environmental ruin in addition to supporting Africa’s evolution of development prerequisites, thus allowing value-addition that has the potential to take full advantage of the economic paybacks to Africa (Scott, 2012).
Irresponsible Natural Resource Exploration by Chinese Extractive Industries in Africa
As Chinese foreign industries develop radically, there is mounting condemnation concerning the undesirable impacts of Chinese international businesses on the surroundings and cultures of host nations. According to Pegg (2012), globally, the second-leading consumer of oil is China, with the USA topping the list. China demands for energy have risen tremendously because of rapid industrial development, as its oil consumption increasing to two million barrels on a daily basis, a 1000% increase from 1980. This demand has led to irresponsible CSR including reports of human rights abuse, labor problems, corruption, in addition to environmental evils.
This shows that the societal issues concerned with Chinese foreign corporations have established extensive attention from the global media fraternities. Environmental destruction, reduced pays and working environments in host nations have created rigidities between Chinese firms and native populations (Michelle, 2006). For example, the Niger Delta residents live in extreme poverty despite the rich oil reserves. Environmental damage instigated by extractive Chinese industries and discriminating dissemination of oil products have donated to years of serious engagements between both the indigenous communities along with the Nigerian government and imported financiers. In the year 2006, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta carried out terror campaigns against Chinese oil reserves in the country and afterwards declared a warning to the Chinese government as well as its oil corporations to avoid from the Niger Delta. The local people clearly cautioned that the Chinese residents found around oil regions would be perceived trespassers (Tan-Mullins, 2014).