Sunday, August 19, 2007


I missed out on the (presumably) impressive celebrations on the 8th which marked 1 year to go till the Olympics, as I was in a seminar talking about the role of China in Africa. A very interesting topics, since there are all kinds of phrases that are associated with it from 'the new colonialism' to 'south-south co-operation'. There is no doubt why China is dealing with Africa -it is for its own benefit, as every other country deals with Africa. The question is will Africa benefit from China's involvement or not?

Will trading help reduce poverty or flood the market with cheap, subsidised, imported Chinese goods? Will China's endemic corruption make Africa's corruption worse or is this a chance for Chinese companies to turn over a new leaf in a new continent? Will the media and NGOs be successful in forcing China to help Africa; using the 'genocide' Olympics as leverage? How will Chinese people who can barely speak english deal with African people, and will they just live in their own communes eating Chinese food? Since Chinese workers have now started being kidnapped for ransoms, will China have to stray form its policy of 'non-interference'? Will the government controlled Chinese media ever start to accept whatsoever that China's motivations for being in Africa are not really just to help the poor black man that the white man screwed over?

All interesting questions, and all affect the whole poverty reduction agenda. Unfortunately the seminar barely touched on any of these issues, but never mind. Work is going well; organisation-wide retreat coming up soon. should be interesting/exciting/good chance to practise chinese.

I moved apartments a couple of months back into a cheap place of rather low quality; but it keeps out most of the mosquitos and has a few drips of water flowing into the sink and into the hole that is both a toilet and a shower. It is good enough for temporary stays. The reason I moved was that I am expecting to spend more time in Beijing, hence the greater expenditure of rent in Beijing instead.

A big bed in a big room with my own bathroom; a living room with 3 sofas, big screen TV, dining table, kitchen with oven, a study and a little bed+bath-room for a maid (we do not have a maid, so it is used for storage) amongst all the other fancy things i am not used to having; like bookshelves, plants and air conditioning. I honestly feel guilty living there (though i do conserve electricity), compared to the people that Plan is actually helping. But never mind, it lets me live close to work in Beijing, gives me space to study chinese in quiet and provides a green park between the 58 buildings of the complex to go for a run in the mornings.

Unfortunately this week i am in Xi'an. But never mind. Spurs won, and that is all that matters!


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