Niger and China

I’ve written here before about tensions in northern Niger over Chinese uranium mining. I want to flag for readers this Financial Times blog post on China in Niger. It’s well worth reading – I’ve excerpted some, but I urge you to check out the whole thing:

The Chinese-built bridge over the River Niger looks sturdy enough but Beijing’s relations with Niamey have been disturbed of late. Last week the military junta that seized power in February’s coup d’etat was working out the details of an audit of all mining permits granted under Mamadou Tandja, Niger’s Sinophile ex-president.

The soldiers have been at pains to stress that they have no intention of booting out investors, Chinese or otherwise. But the exercise could have implications for China’s intermediaries in Niger, weaken its previously intimate relations with the national leadership and hold lessons for its engagements elsewhere on the continent.

[…]The audit in Niger could be uncomfortable. But Beijing is thinking in decades. Expect Niger to demonstrate the enduring nature of China’s African adventure.

That last paragraph merits some real reflection, not only here on the blog but in Washington.

Meanwhile, a decline in aid receipts due to last year’s political turmoil has forced a 13% budget cut in Niger. That says to me that the junta will act very carefully with regard to foreign investors.

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