With the Red Star rising over Africa, locals and leaders across that vast continent are starting to wonder if Beijing’s forays represent a positive collaboration among developing nations — or just the latest incarnation of exploitative colonialism.

Capitalist globalization makes for new bedfellows, and booming “communist” China is the world’s latest economic polygamist, scouring the globe for raw materials and untapped markets. The Christian Science Monitor investigates in an enlightening three-part series on China’s involvement with the pariah state of Sudan.

Christian Science Monitor:

Never before in history has there been more trade between China and Africa. The rising Asian giant is fueling its economy with everything from copper to cobalt dug from sub-Saharan soil.

Many African leaders welcome China, unlike the European colonizers of centuries past, as a nonjudgmental partner and appreciate its developing-nation mind-set. Chinese trade with Africa ($55 billion in 2006) means jobs. China is sending peacekeepers, and providing low-interest loans for roads, hospitals, and schools without any Western finger-wagging or ethical strings attached.

But critics say China is raking out raw materials, flooding the market with cheap products, and mistreating both locals and the environment. Some claim that China, as a key diplomatic backer of Sudan, shares responsibility for the genocidal killings of more than 200,000 non-Arab Sudanese in the troubled Darfur region.

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