Letters from Malawi: What is China doing here?

Will still can't work out why the Chinese are pumping money into resource-light Malawi...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Chinese interest in Africa is well documented. To detractors, it represents a neo-colonialist invasion aimed at stealing the natural resources of a country; to advocates, China is providing invaluable infrastructure to countries in need of development. To me, at least in the case of Malawi, it is completely baffling.

I have asked myself (and others) many times why China is investing in Malawi. And investing it certainly is. Last month, the President of Malawi opened the stunningly kitsch Chinese-built parliament building – a structure that now dominates Capital Hill in Lilongwe, with neo-classical architecture and grandeur that would embarrass an American. It looks as if it's made from plastic and, if the Chinese goods I have bought in Mzuzu recently are anything to go by, it probably is. In addition to the new parliament building, the Chinese are erecting a five-star hotel in the city, exactly what Malawi is in desperate need of! In its defence, it has also involved in the construction of a number of badly needed roads across Malawi.

But why? Why on earth is China interested in a country whose natural resources could fit in a small bucket? [CONTINUED]

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Letters from Malawi: What is China doing here?

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