We Make Money Not Art points us to a stunning photo essay entitled, Chinese Wild West, a collaboration between photographer Paolo Woods and journalist Serge Michel. The project documents China’s industrial neo-colonialism in African.
To quench its thirst for oil, its hunger for copper, uranium and wood, Beijing has sent out its state companies and its adventurous entrepreneurs to conquer Africa. For the 500.000 Chinese who have emigrated to the ‘dark continent’ there is the promise of a 21st century Wild West. Some have struck gold and run large conglomerates that span whole regions of Africa, others are still selling their cheap goods on the burning hot roadsides of the poorest countries in the world.
All of the photos are accompanied by an equally intriquing text. The copy for the above photo reads:
On the building site of the Imboulou dam, Republic of the Congo, 200km north of the capital Brazzaville. In the foreground a Chinese worker of the China National Mechanical & Equipment corporation (CMEC) company, which in 2001 has obtained the contract. With its 120 megawatts, this power plant will double the national production of electricity and will give light to a large part of Congo. 400 Chinese technicians and qualified workers supervise a Congolese workforce of a thousand man, paid 3 dollars a day, that disappear as fast as they can find a better paid job. This, in part, explains the dam’s construction delay that has to be absolutely terminated by 2009, the year of the next Congo elections. CMEC requires the Chinese workers to wear yellow and the Congolese blue hardhats.