China’s rapidly evolving relations in the DR Congo


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Open pit mine industry, big yellow mining truck for coal anthracite.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s stopover in Kinshasa on his latest Africa tour highlights the growing importance of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Chinese foreign policy. During his visit, Wang announced a modest debt relief package and that the DR Congo would become the 45th African country to join the Belt and Road Initiative.

But those efforts belie the DR Congo’s larger importance to China. The Chinese are now in the midst of procuring vast amounts of cobalt, a critical metal found largely in the DR Congo. Similarly, Kinshasa has been a reliable supporter of Beijing’s controversial positions at the United Nations, including its stance on Xinjiang.

Stockholm-based independent researcher Johanna Malm is one of the world’s leading scholars on Sino-DR Congo relations and has been closely watching the rapid evolution of Chinese engagement in the DR Congo from the mid-2000s to the present. She joins Eric and Cobus to provide some perspective on how China’s current moves there are part of a trajectory that began with an enormous mining deal in 2007.