Syllabus Essay

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Print Article 4:00AM Monday Oct 26, 2009 BEIJING - A US$7 billion ($9.23 billion) mining deal between Guinea's repressive military regime and a little-known Chinese company underscores China's full-throttle rush into Africa and its willingness to deal with brutal and corrupt governments. The deal announced last week by the West African country's military junta offers the company, China International Fund, access to Guinea's bauxite and other minerals and could provide major revenues to a government facing international isolation. Guinea's soldiers opened fire on demonstrators late last month, killing up to 157, and raped women in public. Human rights groups decried the pact. China's Government has declined to confirm it or answer related questions, and the company also refused to comment. In many ways, the Guinea deal reflects established Chinese business practices in Africa, characterised by huge investments in a still-poor continent but also secrecy and often scant regard for labour and human rights. China's defenders point out that other investors from the West, Japan, India and elsewhere are also major economic partners with less-than-democratic African governments. In Guinea, Alcoa of the United States and Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto are already major players in the bauxite business. Also, China has given aid, loans or investment to more than 17 African nations, some of which do have democratic governments. But China's practices have raised questions about whether the huge sums will hamper the progress of human rights and good governance in Africa, even as they raise the standards of living and line the pockets of some. China has given large chunks of money to corrupt and abusive regimes such as those in oil-rich Nigeria and Sudan, much criticised over abuses in the Darfur

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