If you've been to any number of African countries in recent years, and even if you haven't, you probably know that China has been plowing much of its new wealth into Africa. In addition to "no strings attached" humanitarian aid that China proffers (unlike the strings-laced World Bank and IMF funds), Chinese companies are building roads in Senegal, running mines in Zambia and clothing factories in South Africa among many other primarily infrastructure and industrial investments. ----------
...trade between Africa and China grew to more than $100 billion by 2008, from less than $10 million in the 1980s. African leaders spoke openly about China’s offer of an alternative to the edicts of Western-dominated institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Full New York Times article here.
I chatted with a sales rep for an Indian company in a hotel in Ouagadougou who lamented the competition's funding of African despots evil ways, suggesting that the crisis in Darfur, piracy off the coast of Somalia and other heinous activities are essentially funded by the Chinese. China has begun to tighten its purse strings a little, and there's also evidence that there are sometimes, "strings attached".
South Africa will be host to World Cup 2010, and intended to host Nobel Laureates at a peace conference associated with it this week--then the Dalai Lama applied for a visa to attend, and the South African government denied it. Why? Well...take a guess (or see here.) Consequently, Bishop Desmond Tutu, and South Africa's former President FW de Klerk have stated they will not attend, and now the conference has been postponed indefinitely.