I caught a edited for size version of this report on last night's NBC Nightly News; but the Today show has an extended version of the same piece which I've embedded below. With the way it was edited I was confused why a government had decided to cut a road through a reserve that I assume is one of it's largest revenue generators via tourists. But in the last few seconds of the piece, they laid out the reason - a shortcut for trucks to get to rare earth metals, sponsored by China. Just can't escape the rare earths nowadays. If you are unfamiliar with some of our older stories, China is all over Africa - it is the new paradigm colonialism. In return for access to resources, China provides funding for development which a relatively poor continent (and it's politicians) are happy to receive. [Sep 30, 2009: China Attempting to Secure 1/6th of Nigeria's Proven Oil Reserves] And certainly it is now just African countries China is 'developing'. [Aug 2, 2010: Bloomberg - New Silk Road Built by China Connects Asia to Latin America] [Nov 11, 2009: China Continues Expanding Infrastructure for Resources Policy with Agreement in Malaysia]
This is a tough one because while they flip through some aghast foreign tourists at the end of the piece, who are we to tell another country what to do. Even if for the betterment of global society, we wish these things would not happen.
(6 minute video)