China is preparing to throw the junta in Guinea a lifeline in the form of a multibillion-pound oil and mineral deal, financed largely by soft loans. Such policies have already served China well with rogue and discredited regimes from Angola to Sudan. The move comes as the European Union, spurred on by France, the former colonial power, and the African Union are considering sanctions against Guinea if its young military leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, continues to renege on a deal to stand down in favour of free elections.
The massacre occurred after 50,000 demonstrators took to the streets when Captain Camara — who seized power in December after the death of the long-time dictator Lansana Conte — announced that he would stand in the poll. Thousands stayed at home yesterday and riot police patrolled empty streets as the opposition called two days of mourning for the dead.
Beijing, meanwhile, was reported to be close to agreeing a deal, financed by its China International Fund, of about £4.4 billion covering a range of projects. Guinea, the world’s largest exporter of bauxite, also has huge deposits of uranium, iron ore, diamonds and a host of other minerals. It is also believed to have significant off-shore oil reserves.
China’s policy of not linking trade, aid and investment to political reform or human rights issues has paid huge dividends so far. In less than a decade it has created a footprint across the entire continent and secured a willing provider of much needed raw materials to power its economic growth.