In Guinea, China’s Africa Policy Still Off-Key

In Guinea, China’s Africa Policy Still Off-Key

The United States and France have joined a chorus of disapproving African states to condemn recent events in Guinea -- events that have dimmed hopes that the isolated and resource-rich West African nation might finally achieve democratic civilian rule following the death last December of longtime autocrat Lansana Conté.

One voice that has opted against singing from the international hymn book, however, is arguably Guinea's most important interlocutor: China. Instead of opprobrium, Beijing appears to have offered Guinea incentive, in the form of a multi-billion dollar investment in oil and minerals -- the latest installation of the checkbook diplomacy that has allowed China to surpass both former colonial power France and the United States to become Guinea's top trading partner. The move, by an ostensibly privately held company, was revealed even as details of a heretofore unseen massacre of opposition supporters emerged.

Beijing is no stranger to reaching lucrative arrangements with governments with dubious track records on human rights. But it could soon find itself singing a different tune, as international condemnation of Guinea mounts with each arrival of a high-level delegation aiming to investigate the events of Sept. 28.

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