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The New Imperialists?

While my friends in the Emerging Phoenix have discussions to define postcolonialism, to date, I’ve not really known how to contribute to those types of conversations. As an Asian American, my perspective has traditionally been sensitive to the imposition of power by the dominant culture, but this article has made me see that there are dynamics in play which are very much pertinent to me as someone with vested interest in the actions of the Asian nations. While it smacks of the same arguments against Wal-Mart here in the U.S., there is the double-edged sword of generosity and greed, empowerment and oppression.

A few excerpts that struck me:

“China is not like the World Bank, they don’t attach all these conditions on the money,” said Edmundo Vaz, a former adviser to the Guinea-Bissau Finance Ministry who now runs a bank.

“The West makes us wait, but we’re a poor country — we don’t have time wait,” he said…

When asked about China’s investment in nations with records of human rights abuses — notably Sudan and the Central African Republic — Li replied curtly: “Do you know what the meaning of human rights is? The basic meaning of human rights is survival — and development.”…

China has found a seemingly limitless market in Africa for its cheap goods. And oil-rich countries like Nigeria and Angola provide the natural resources China needs to sustain its rapid growth.

The imbalance between a superpower like China and a struggling West African country like Guinea-Bissau has prompted some to describe the Chinese overtures as the latest chapter in Africa’s history of exploitation.


What happens when Asians begin to exploit other countries and become the new imperialists?

How does that sit with us, as Asians who come with long histories of oppression and subjugation, yet now tempted with opulence; as Americans who consume ravenously and only seem to grow in our own navel-gazing; and most importantly as Christians who have remained safety-centric, economically unconscious, and for the most part nostalgic about our influence in the culture.

As an Asian American Christian, how do you feel today if it’s true that Asians are the new imperialists? What would you do differently?

About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

3 responses to “The New Imperialists?

  1. elderj

    ahhh imperialism – a favorite topic of mine.

  2. Do tell, elderj, I was a little concerned as I read this article especially as it has to do with Africa. So apparently not only do Asian American immigrant businesses make their money in predominantly African American neighborhoods, but now China is sure to sell their wares in Africa? Could we draw this micro-to-macro analogy out further and perhaps discuss what we can do to increase Afro-Asian American Christian dialogue?

  3. elderj

    It would seem that there are ample points of intersection between Asian-Am and Afri-Am as well as between Asians and Africans – points that present, on the global stage, an opportunity for evangelism (as Africa and China are places of rapid growth for the church) and for reconciliation (between A-A & B-A’s). Unfortunately the tendency we have to leave our faith “at the door” means that very little evangelism or reconciliation are happening.

    Here in the states I think it is critical to develop an Afro-Asian American Christian dialogue for the sake of our witness in the world and for our on needed discipleship. I think the Black community has something to teach about retaining cultural distinctiveness & being Christian that many 1st gens and 2nd gens are not yet sure how to navigate. I think the Black community has something to learn from the AA community about…. well community and service which are values that are being increasingly lost. Unfortunately – mutual prejudice and ethnocentrism make that dialogue difficult at best and the perception of competition for scarce economic resources doesn’t help. It could be valuable for people in our respective communities to begin unpacking some of our ethnocentric baggage in the light of Christ so that the points of intersection we have can become more than they currently are.

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