IT MAY not be surprising that, as befits any mad dictator, President Mugabe is now the proud owner of a palatial £4.5 million mansion in Harare and a similarly lavish country hideaway, each fitted with the latest electronic security systems, including anti-aircraft missiles. But why should all this have'been provided for him by the People's Republic of China?
The explanation lies in a deal struck in 2005 whereby Mr Mugabe handed over to China his country's mineral rights, including the world's second largest reserves of platinum, worth £250 billion. In return for allowing the Chinese to cart away more than half a billion pounds' worth of minerals a year, Mr Mugabe not only makes a vast personal fortune for himself and his henchmen, but is given all the arms he needs to keep his criminal regime in power, including guns, jet fighters and military vehicles. (For further details, see my colleague Richard North's EU Referendum website.)
Contrast this with our own Government's response to Mugabe's tyranny. Since Zimbabwe is included in the 28 areas of "common foreign policy" we have ceded to the EU, we can do nothing except in conjunction with our EU colleagues.
On Monday we saw the humiliating spectacle of Gordon Brown pleading with the EU's President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to add 36 more names to the list of Zimbabweans on whom the EU has imposed pathetically ineffectual "personal sanctions". Otherwise, the EU's only contribution is to give Zimbabwe €25 million a year in aid, which Mr Mugabe welcomes as a way to give food to his supporters while the rest of his people starve.
All this provides a remarkable parallel to what is happening elsewhere in Africa. In Sudan the tyrannical government is given full support by China in return for a monopoly on its large reserves of oil. Meanwhile, EU politicians wring their hands over the tragedy unfolding in Darfur, while a pitiful EU military force in Chad notably fails to protect a million helpless refugees from the genocide waged on them by China's friends in Khartoum.
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as we learned from an excellent report in The Daily Telegraph last week, China last January signed a "minerals for infrastructure" deal, worth £2.25 billion, under which it bought the rights to some of the world's richest copper and cobalt reserves, in return for building roads, railways, hospitals, dams and airports. This is the country where, five years ago, the EU proudly sent its first military force bearing the ring of stars insignia - to achieve precisely nothing.
All over Africa, the Chinese dictatorship props up ruthless and corrupt regimes We now learn that the Congolese government had first proposed such a minerals deal to the EU but, according to the country's deputy minister for mines, the EU replied that it "did not have the muscle that was needed".
All over Africa we see a similar story. The ruthless but canny Chinese dictatorship props up equally ruthless and corrupt governments, as in Angola, in return for that continent's fabulous mineral reserves. Britain, which once ruled much of Africa, has handed over its policy-making to the EU, which does little but make sanctimonious and irrelevant gestures. Yet this is the continent which, in 2005, both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown proclaimed was "at the top" of their international agenda. It was in the same year that, as the EU's acting president, Tony Blair flew to Beijing to sign an agreement making the EU and China "strategic partners". It is only too obvious which "partner's" strategy is proving the more successful.
I cannot guarantee all the statements in this blog. They were complied from a vatiety of articles