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Last week, the Aluminum Corp. of China, otherwise known as Chinalco, received regulatory approval to proceed with its investment of $19.5 billion in the Australian-based mining giant Rio Tinto, giving the Chinese access to a large and secure supply of iron ore, copper, aluminium and other resources in Australia and Latin America. Is this a signal that China is losing interest in Africa? Or that African governments are becoming disenchanted with their Chinese partners?
Twenty years ago this month I left China under less than ideal circumstances: I was one of a handful of reporters expelled during a crackdown on the incipient student democracy movement. After a dozen years of close involvement with China, first as a student, then as a tour guide, and finally as a journalist, I was suddenly cut off from the country, unable to return.