After a Coup, Niger Resumes Business as Usual With China

The New York Times reports that the junta who took control of after a coup against Mamadou Tandja is picking up where he left off in his relationship with China:

The junta has said broadly that it may adjust any deals made by Mr. Tandja to ensure that they sufficiently benefit Niger, a nation rich in uranium and, potentially, oil.

But the junta does not seem eager to upset the Chinese — “checking doesn’t mean calling into question,” said Col. Abdoulkarim Goukoye, a junta member — and for now China appears to be proceeding confidently, sealing its reputation here as the continent’s behind-the-scenes force, ready to do business regardless of who is in power or whatever outrage exists about it.

“They couldn’t care less” who leads the country, Mohamed Bazoum, a former opposition leader recently appointed by the junta to a civilian council, said of China’s investments in Niger. “The Chinese, they were about to destroy democracy. They were playing a very negative role.”

But even Mr. Bazoum did not suggest breaking with China now. In a sign of how desperately Niger needs investment — the nation ranks at the very bottom of the United Nations human development index — Mr. Bazoum said he hoped the old deals would be respected, suggesting how quickly the looming backlash against China here has become an embrace.

April 25, 2010, 2:52 PM
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