East- West Rumblings - What About Country's Burden of Choice?


By Louise Mushikiwabo
Spokesperson, Government of Rwanda

The New Times-Kigali

Kigali — The West's judgment on China should be
none of Africa's business.

In the same logic, Africa's dealing with China
is a matter best handled amongst the two.

What I am trying to say here is that Rwandans
are at a loss when they, along with other Africans,
are chastised by the Western media
and establishment for allowing China to trade with them.

Surely we assume that the right to choose
our partners when doing business
is a prerogative that should not be questioned.

Then there is the issue of human rights.
From the argument of those who believe
China should stay away from Africa, lest it enforce
bad habits there, it would seem as though
civil liberties are inherent to the West-and that
no other part of the world understands
the good they do to society.

To that kind of thinking, Rwanda opposes
the simple and fundamental belief, rising out
of the last fifteen years of nation rebirth; that Rwandans
are better off when their rights
are protected and their views heard.

If Rwanda's leadership (and Africa's) were not
to provide and preserve rights for all; if we were
to neglect our Environment; not seek decent wages
for our workers and allow unfair competition
for our merchants, then we would
be failing our people.

And if we were to do so, it would not be an East
or West issue: "the burden is on us", in the words
of Paul Kagame, talking to the press last Friday.

Yet, here's what an article by The Economist of
 October 15, 2009 titled "China and Africa: Don't Worry
about Killing People" says, "Mr. Kagame is sensitive
to growing Western criticism of his
increasingly autocratic ways, so he
too may start looking east."

The author seems to imply that President Kagame
should side with the West against
China because the West brings more
scrutiny to shortcomings in human rights.

What a selective memory!
I will ignore the sponsors of coups in Africa
from the time of its independence; I will also skip
those using African shores as dumpsters
of toxic waste; I might even close my eyes
on those who chopped off the hands
of workers in rubber plantations in Africa,
but I will not be quiet about this: neither
Paul Kagame nor China aided and abetted
a genocidal regime in Rwanda; unfortunately,
I cannot say the same for
a number of Western countries.

Lastly--and the matter that clarifies the position
of Paul Kagame and that of his Government; It's
about Africa--- it has very little to do
with China. Rwanda is looking West, East
and any other direction, in its own interests.

Link here

Sent from Kigali, Rwanda

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