China hopes to hit the right note with Algeria opera house

Along the highway, alternating blue-and-white corrugated iron sheets are all that can be seen of the opera house China offered as a gift to Algeria six years ago.

Behind the fence, Chinese construction workers are putting the finishing touches to a building – but it’s not the 1,400-seat opera house. Rather they are finishing the roofs of small houses for more construction workers.

An Algerian employee of the Chinese construction company admits work is “falling behind schedule”. “It was bound to happen, the merchandise comes from far away,” he says.

The foundation stone for the $40m (£26m) project in the Ouled Fayet suburbs was laid last November at a ceremony attended by the Chinese ambassador to Algeria, Liu Yuhe, and the Algerian minister of culture, Khalida Toumi.

Toumi said the project was conceived in 2006 during a visit to China by Algerian president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

It would be “an important symbol of Chinese-Algerian friendship,” Lu Yifeng, economic and trade adviser at China’s embassy in Algiers, told Reuters. “We would like to pursue our friendship co-operation with Algeria during its next economic plan.”

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