The deal only came to light after residents were told by officials in the Whale Bay area, where the harbor is planned, that there was a hold on any land exchanges because of a Chinese deal, says Jane Aspden Gbandewa, who runs an an eco-tourism business in the area.
Beijing and Freetown were forced to deny the rumors but acknowledged a deal had been made — even if no details were forthcoming.
In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry said “a modern fishing pier” had been a “long-cherished wish” of the people of Sierra Leone since the 1970s.
The Foreign Ministry declined to clarify which Chinese bank or body was involved, when the funds had been exchanged — or if they were still in China — and the terms of the grant: such as whether a Chinese company will carry out the construction work. It simply said: “The ownership of the land and the port belongs to Sierra Leone.”
The business of China: Uniqlo’s border dust-up
Uniqlo’s recent brush with United States border authorities is the latest example of the growing risks multinational companies face while operating in China.
US authorities blocked a shipment from the Japanese clothing retailer in January, citing concerns the shirts may have been produced through forced labor in the Chinese region of Xinjiang. Uniqlo denied the claim in a statement to CNN Business and said it was “disappointed” by the decision. (China has repeatedly denied human rights abuses in the region.)
Uniqlo was one of more than 80 companies the Australian Strategic Policy Institute has said was “directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labor transfer programs.”
But in its statement, Uniqlo said it sent documents to US customs officials “to demonstrate that our products meet US import requirements,” adding that all of its products “use only cotton that originates from sustainable sources.”
The clothing brand, which is owned by Japan’s Fast Retailing, faces a tricky balance in its messaging. In China, a key market for Uniqlo, brands like H&M have faced boycotts for expressing concerns over forced labor in Xinjiang. But if Uniqlo doesn’t take a forceful stance, it risks alienating consumers in other markets.
The reality for Japanese companies poses a unique challenge: Though the government is a key American ally, China is a neighbor and the biggest market for Japanese corporates.
Another Japanese clothing brand, Muji, has taken a different approach, saying it continues to use cotton from Xinjiang, and even advertising products made with “Xinjiang cotton.”
— By Selina Wang
Quoted and noted
“We are appalled to see blatant anti-Semitism expressed in an official Chinese media outlet, we have hoped that the times of the ‘Jew’s controlling the world’ conspiracy theories were over, unfortunately anti-Semitism has shown its ugly face again.”
Crypto miners in the crosshairs
Authorities in northern China are cracking down on cryptocurrency mining — and they want snitches.
In addition to crypto-mining, China has also restricted digital currencies more generally. This week, Chinese regulators banned financial institutions and payment companies from participating in transactions or providing services related to cryptocurrencies. The news sent Bitcoin’s value tumbling as much as 30% before recovering slightly.