Last night, dvfmama and I got to talking. In her macroeconomics class, she asked a question about slaves. Does economics consider slaves “labor” or “land”? (For those too lazy to click the links, economics defines land as a resource used to produce a good, while labor is the human efforts that are used to produce a good.)
Despite the eye-rolls from her classmates, she was specifically thinking of the brick-making slaves (including children) that were discovered in some Chinese factories recently. Economic powerhouses, she pointed out to me, seem dependent on cheap labor to reach the powerhouse status.
Anyway, this conversation got me thinking about the Chinese workers that I met while I was in Uganda rafting the Nile. They were helping to build out the cellular infrastructure, using money the Chinese government had loaned to Uganda.
At the time, I was confused by this. China has a lot of its own people it could be helping: why this apparent philanthropy towards Africa?
Poking around last night I came across a story by Peter Hitchens about his experience in Congo: How China has created a new slave empire in Africa.
Congo, for the geographically-illiterate among us (including me, usually), is on the western border of Uganda.
China is poised to become the next economic powerhouse. It looks like imperialism is an almost inevitable step on the path to becoming a major world power. The UK did it, the US is doing it, and now China wants in on the game.