Debate on Chinese investment package in Guinea

On “China in Africa: The Real Story,” Deborah Brautigam takes issue with a new Chatham House report entitled “Guinea: Bought by Beijing.” The report says that

to the surprise of many, after taking control in a coup and then violently suppressing civil society demonstrators in a stadium massacre, Guinea’s military junta formed a transitional government.

But considering a $7 billion resources-for-infrastructure deal with the Hong Kong-based China International Fund, the report “worries that China’s engagement in Guinea might yet spoil the transition to democracy.”

Brautigam observes that a number of other investors are present in the country; that Chinalco backed out of taking over a share of a Rio Tinto mine in Guinea (possibly because it was then trying to take over Rio Tinto itself, or possibly because of fears of negative Western reactions); and that the China International Fund cannot be seen as a proxy for the Chinese state, and it would not make sense for the Guinean government to give the whole deal to the CIF when Chinese state companies are also in the competition.

She promises to devote a future post to CIF. I am looking forward to that, but no matter what the nature of the ties between the CIF and the government in Peking is and where its capital comes from, I am certain that an investment of this magnitude does not proceed without approval by the government. It is very likely that the CIF combines the private interests of Chinese investors with the functions of a proxy 民间 organisation in cases where state companies or China’s sovereign wealth fund prefer not to be exposed, which would make sense in Guinea.

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