China and the Western Hemisphere reversed roles in Africa.

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The recent visit of US Foreign Secretary Hillary Clinton to Africa puts a spotlight on a strangely changed developmental policy. In many places she visited the Chinese had arrived first and whilst she brings around ideology, they build the streets. In a contribution to "The Harvard Business Review" Stephan Richter reflects on the situation.
 
For decades, Africa’s growth has stalled because of an inadequate infrastructure especially with regard to transportation. African leaders have turned more and more to the Chinese government for help in constructing streets, bridges, and railroads. The Chinese base their support on reciprocity in political cooperation but there are no further “ifs” and “buts” with regard to a country’s internal political issues. The receiving countries have to tolerate that the Chinese bring their own manpower but deliver on time and on budget. Whereas the Western Hemisphere attaches conditions to developmental aid in an attempt to introduce democracy and improve human rights, the Chinese take the market oriented approach. Their practical support may help the emerging middle classes in Africa, but certainly cements future economical and political alliances.
 
This reversal of roles can be seen as noteworthy. The notion that economic development would lead to political democracy was initially put forward by the West when targeting China and the former Soviet Union. Evidently however the West is not so convinced of this same link in Africa. Paradoxically China puts the notion to the test there. Of course, for the people it would be great if the link did indeed exist.