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China’s Red Army Drips Blood Diamonds

Monday, September 20, 2010 5:45
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Mugabe’s darkest secret: An £800bn blood diamond mine he’s running with China’s Red Army

By Andrew Malone – Last updated at 5:35 AM on 18th September 2010

[ Extract ]…..

Across a remote tract of southern Africa, naturally ­fortified by mountains and patrolled by hundreds of ­soldiers with dogs trained to tear intruders apart, teams of mining experts are hard at work.

Yet they are not speakers of Shona, the native language of this land on the border between Zimbabwe and Mozambique. No, thousands of miles from home, under a broiling African sun, these slim, pale-skinned figures are members of the Chinese military.

Working alongside henchmen from one of ­Africa’s most murderous regimes — headed by Robert Mugabe — the Chinese are here to ­oversee Beijing’s investment in the world’s most controversial commodity: blood diamonds.

High-ranking officials of China’s People’s ­Liberation Army, they have been striving to escape detection for their role in this blood-thirsty — but hugely lucrative — trade.

For here, carved out of the African bush, is a runway big enough for huge cargo planes. There is also sophisticated radar equipment, a fully-operational control tower and comfortable ­barracks for the Chinese officials overseeing the entire operation.

And twice a week, its wings wobbling on waves of thermals rising from this scorching corner of the continent, an Antonov An-12 cargo plane can be heard droning towards the airstrip….

[ extract ]… The departing flights leave with rough, uncut diamonds worth millions.

No flight plans are filed and there are no records of these trips.

Such secrecy — and sophisticated organisation — is understandable. This is the centre of diamond fever, and the scene of the biggest diamond heist in history.

[ extract ]….  in return for the gems, the Chinese are paying Mugabe’s thugs in guns and ammunition, ensuring his regime can stay in power despite ­international condemnation of his atrocities.

The two countries — both with appalling human-rights records — are involved in a vile scramble for loot at Marange, and there is clear ­evidence that Mugabe and his ­generals are also personally stealing millions from the trade. 

Secret documents obtained by the Mail reveal that the company given the rights to the diamond fields —called Mbada Diamond Company — is fronted by Mugabe’s trusted former personal helicopter pilot, with ­Chinese military officials as silent partners… [named] as Deng Hongyan, Zhang Shibin, Zhang Hui, Jiang Zhaoyao and Cheng Qins.

[ extract ] The disclosures make a mockery of the decision by the Kimberley ­Process — the diamond watchdog set up in the wake of the diamond war in Sierra Leone — to allow Mugabe to sell gems from Marange…

[ extract ]… at a meeting in a car on deserted waste ground — set up after tortuous negotiations through a go-between — one of Mugabe’s most senior intelligence chiefs rubbed his hands with glee at the deal with the Chinese….

‘It is a government-to-government deal,’ the official said. ‘It has been signed at the highest level. 

There is a memorandum of understanding between China and ­Zimbabwe — Beijing supplies ­weapons to us, and we allow them to mine diamonds.’

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