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African Countries Put Pressure on China



VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report. Ghana arrested more than 100 Chinese nationals in June. They were accused of illegally mining gold. In February, Zambia seized a Chinese operated mine because of safety concerns. And Gabon has decided to seize property from three foreign oil companies, including one from China.

Some observers say these and other incidents appear to be a reaction by African governments against Chinese investment on the continent. China became Africa's top trade partner in 2009. Yet some Africans believe they are not getting enough for their exports. Bright Simons is with the IMANI group. He says China is no longer known only for giving loans and sending workers to build hospitals and roads. He says China is now a business partner.

Ghana has taken steps against foreigners involved in "shallow mining" for gold. Only Ghanaians can get government approval for this kind of mining. Bright Simons says some Ghanaians "rent" the permits to foreigners who have the money and training to actually mine the gold. Observers say nations like Niger and Gabon want to get more for their natural resources. They want more money, more local jobs and better living conditions.

Worldwide demand for oil, coal, iron ore and uranium has made their negotiating position stronger. Some nations are also concerned about abusive or illegal operations. In Gabon, the government says it is planning not to extend operating permits to three companies, including Addax, which is part of China's Sinopec. Many experts believe the partnership between China and Africa will continue to grow, but now perhaps on more equal terms.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman.