China and the Democratic Republic of Congo: Partners in Development?

China Monitor - Issue 34 - Oct 2008October 2008 – Issue 34

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is largely recognized as a failed state. Its‟ history has been fraught with internal civil war, regional conflict and human suffering. Its vast commodity wealth has been plundered by its leadership as well as by external actor‟s intent on extracting wealth whilst doing little to improve the livelihoods of the Congolese people.

The recent “package deal” investment concluded in April between the DRC Government, state-owned mining firm Gécamines and the Chinese government through the Export-Import Bank of China is the largest foreign investor engagement of the DRC economy ever. Valued at over US$ 9 billion, the deal combines investment in infrastructure, an aid component, the recapitalization of Gécamines, and a long term off-take agreement for key commodities. The financing mimics the “Angola Model” that can be termed China Inc.‟s “coalition engagement” of an African state.

Recent conflict that has broken out in the eastern part of the DRC is a looming tragedy for a country where stability is essential for development to take place.

China‟s “Angola Model” is being rolled out in numerous African countries. It is certainly an innovative approach for foreign actors to engage Africa – a combination of both aid and private sector commerce models. For it to succeed in the DRC, however, it will require stability and responsible leadership by the recipient government. China‟s substantial interest in the DRC‟s vast mineral wealth could be the last developmental chance that the government has.

Download PDF – China Monitor – Issue 34 – Oct 2008