I've come across two very interesting articles on this topic which has been the cause of huge media debate and as always varing opinions. The first is from a friend's blog who's writing a series on this.. the first is titled China in Africa: The CNOOC Nigerian Oil Deal and the second is from Granta Magazine entitled: "We love China"
My take? China has had an influence in Sierra Leone for as far back as i can remember. China as a nation as grown significantly over the years though and every move they make now are view under a huge microscope especially by western powers. From the point of view of African govts.. or Sierra Leone to be more specific.. they're crying out for huge investment and need people who can put their money where their mouth is. Of course debate is going on about the proposed development in the Lumley Beach area. Again there are varying opionions on this, me.. i see jobs. $280m is also a lot of money by any standards.
However, part of the appeal of the chinese to govt is the lack of questions by the chinese and their wanting to just get the job done. Well, that's all well and good.. but there should be questions in the other direction. The Sierra Leonean interest should be paramount at all times and there should be a legal framework to support this. Signs written only in Chinese is probably not the way to go. So as long as the best is negotiated for Sierra Leoneans (and Sierra Leone's long term interest) and there is accountability. I'm not sure i have any problem with the Chinese influence. Nothing's stopping anyone else to go invest right?
There is an ongoing debate in the forum about Chinese money in Sierra Leone.