China: A bull in Congo's shop

November 19, 2008
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Coverage of the current rumblings in the eastern Congo has concentrated, understandably, on perceived ethnic tensions between different groups. Rebel general Luaren Nkunda, a clever, charistmatic and well equiped fighter, is sympathetic to the Tutsi groups in his patch, many of whom fled over the border from Rwanda in the aftermath of the mid-1990s genocide. In the area are also rumoured to be those directly responsible for the genocide itself, also have fleed from Rwanda. And so the reporting of the conflict quickly becomes lost in an ethnic soup. But, behind this, argues Prospect's lead opinion this month, another, simpler cause is visible: China. Much as in the early part of the 20th century, when Belgian colonials stripped the area for mineral wealth, today China is investing heavily. The conflict is ultimately about who gets a cut of the investment. Tim Butcher explains how, and why, here.