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Unfair to blame China for Africa's problems
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It is unfair to blame China for the situation in Darfur and other African issues as China does not have as much influence there as some people believe, Kenyan scholar Firoze Manji said in Ottawa on Wednesday.

Manji was speaking at a seminar titled "China in the World: Implications for Development", sponsored by the Canadian Council for International Cooperation at the University of Ottawa.

It is unfortunate that China is blamed for situations such as that in Sudan, with the international community saying China can play a role in stopping the violence in Darfur by scaling back trade with the Sudanese government, said Manji, who is a visiting fellow in International Human Rights at Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

"China ... has no history of colonization, no sponsorship of coup d'etats or assassinations; it doesn't use aid as a political tool," he said.

In Manji's opinion, some people simply exaggerate China's influence in Africa.

"But how many of you realize that India has more oil interests in Sudan than China? Surprised, I bet," he said, "Portugal has much more (at stake) in Angola than China. Yet the world seems to think China has much more influence."

China is Africa's third largest trading partner, but it is well behind the United States, so the blame for Africa's poverty "can hardly be placed entirely at China's door."

Manji said it was Washington that "opened the doors" to Africa, and there is little space left for newcomers such as China, given the current international rules in place.

(Xinhua News Agency April 18, 2008)

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