Enter the Dragon
Taiwan’s government suffered a double-blow of the weekend; The governing DPP sustained a heavy loss to the nationalists in parliamentary elections that has lead to the president resigning as the party’s chairman and it lost a 42 year old ally in Malawi. Malawi has switched allegiance to mainland China in return for several investment projects.
Reaction has mainly been positive. Some commentators says that with Malawi not signing the EPA agreement championed by the EU, Malawi needed a similarly big bloc to ensure a continuation of trade. Others say the Shire-Zambazi Waterway project that China has promised to finance will bring about big benefits to Malawi by providing a transport corridor to the sea for Malawi Zambia and Zimbabwe, countries in which China has great investments. Others view China as an emerging superpower worth having diplomatic relations with.
Then there are those who say Malawi is sleeping with the devil citing China’s appalling human rights record, a claim some have rubbished. “We maintain cordial relation with Zimbabwe, a country with a horrible right record. So what is the benchmark we are using to determine who not to have relation with” one commentator said.
However we still need answers to many questions which the ministry of foreign affairs has promised to provide. My most pressing is apart from promising to buy tobacco and uranium from Malawi, what else are they likely to buy? Is Mainland China an open market for Malawian businesses? Will it not be one way traffic for cheap (and sometimes lethally toxic) goods?