China plans to lend the Democratic Republic of Congo $5-billion
to modernise decrepit infrastructure in the rich but run-down mining sector,
a treasure chest of copper, cobalt, gold and diamonds
still to be fully tapped.


The repayment terms proposed included
mining concessions and toll revenue deals
to be given to Chinese companies.

I was thinking aloud a couple of weeks ago [August 2007] when I expressed my concerns that China might be backing the Kabila Congo government army (FARDC) against Nkunda, head of the Tutsi army (CNDP) that is being attacked by the Hutu army (FDLR) who perpetrated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.


Now it seems my worst fears are realized. A news story the other day [September 2007] announced that China and Congo's president - Kabila - have signed a $5-billion deal wherein China builds infrastructure (roads, railways etc) in the Congo in exchange for valuable minerals - including those in the area that Nkunda is protecting.

This is a scary thought for the people who live there. It could be another Sudan, Burma or Zimbabwe or anywhere else in the world where China makes deals with tyrants to move in and extract their natural resources. In other words, China will bring in its own slave labour and the indiginous people there - in this case the Tutsi and other Congolese tribes - will be treated as less than human.

And Nkunda, in protecting his people against the forces allied against him - the government of Congo (DRC), MONUC (the UN) and the FDLR (Hutu genocidaires) will also now have the Chinese against him. ~ Jackie Jura

The Chinese and Congo take a giant leap of faith
by Howard W. French, Intern'l Herald Tribune, Sep 21, 2007

SHANGHAI: The entire world may not have sat up and taken notice in the last week, and that is probably just fine with China, which has just made a major move into central Africa. With its agreement to lend $5 billion to Congo, what might have often looked like a grab-bag approach to the African continent by a country with only sporadic involvement there has finally taken on a distinct outline.

It turns out that China, which since the time of Deng Xiaoping has discouraged talk about its rise or its might, has a blueprint for Africa, and with the Congo deal, what we are witnessing is the shift of the Chinese embrace into high gear.

What will $5 billion buy? Quite a lot, should all of the projects in the announced deal materialize. Imagine Western Europe without practicable roads or functioning trains and you will begin to get a sense of Congo and its realities. For half of the year, when the rains are heavy, the grandly named Route Nationale 1, which follows a path of about 260 kilometers, or 160 miles, between the capital, Kinshasa, and the country's sole ocean port, Matadi, cannot be said to connect the two cities. Trucks sink up to their cabin doors in mud and must wait for weeks to be winched out. Mind you, this is arguably the most important road in the country. Add to the lack of infrastructure an equatorial climate in which tropical diseases proliferate and thrive, and no education system worthy of name, forcing children by the millions to grow up without proper schools.

It is a dark picture, made all the more dire for the persistence of a low-grade civil war affecting large swaths of the country.

The $5 billion that China is plunking down promises a great leap forward for Congo, and this begins with about 3,200 kilometers of new rail lines and an equivalent amount of new roads. The money will also pay for 31 hospitals and 145 smaller health care centers, along with two large new universities and 5,000 new government housing units. The Chinese promise not to dilly-dally, too. Most of this will be accomplished in a mere 36 months, they say, and I for one believe them, having seen the pace of change even in the most remote Chinese backwaters. If war or political upheaval doesn't get in the way, Congo stands to experience more progress in 36 months than it has in 47 years of independence from Belgium, or as a colony of Brussels for that matter.

The Chinese move is impressive on many levels, none more so than the fact of the immense vacuum in Africa they are moving to fill, and there are few characteristics more distinctive of an emerging superpower than filling vacuums. When Laurent Kabila overthrow Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997, American companies like Bechtel rushed up blueprints for Congo's reconstruction, anticipating huge civil engineering deals.

No country is more richly endowed in minerals, and the world's mining giants, too, flew executives in on private jets, hoping to win big contracts. More war intervened, though, and all of this came to naught, leaving Congo's 65 million people mired in poverty, with little real development ever since.

China now has its eyes on the same prize: the world's richest assortment of minerals, from copper to cobalt to uranium to diamonds and gold and on and on, but its game plan reflects a truly Chinese perspective on the world. The new roads and rails are meant not merely to revive Congo's prospects. Nor are they simply intended to facilitate extraction, as much as that remains part of the plan. China is redrawing the economic map in central and southern Africa, linking the copper zone of the south with the port at Matadi, and redirecting other portions of the country's huge mineral potential to Chinese-built networks in Zambia and Angola. In doing so, it is largely avoiding South Africa, a potential but now badly outstripped competitor that is perhaps seen as too deeply involved with the West.

It must be said that China has chosen a daunting proving ground for its long-held ideas about engagement with the developing world, which could be summed up as "it's the economy, stupid." It is not merely for lack of good faith that the West has nearly abandoned this part of the world, despite its immense riches. History has shown this to be an extremely hard place to build lasting, productive enterprises.

Lest anyone assume anything different, I hasten to wish the Chinese and their new Congolese partners well. Africa desperately needs a hundred flowers to bloom. The hard questions that merit posing, however, just won't go away. They will be proven one way or another. China's mastery of infrastructure is unquestioned, but can there be lasting development in Africa without big strides in political development, and without the emergence of strong civil societies?

What is the good of a university without books, or hospitals without medicines? Africa, sadly, has plenty of experience with this question, and nowhere more so than Congo, where foreigners with a hunger for the country's minerals, dreams of riches and a willingness to turn a blind eye to ugly political realities have visited before.

I think of the Inga Dam, built by the United States in the early part of Mobutu's regime and said to be able to power most of Africa, but now unable to keep even the capital lighted. I think of a towering Information Ministry tower built by the French, where one must walk up countless stairs for lack of a functioning elevator. I think of V.S. Naipaul, who wrote unforgettably about this same country in "A Bend on the River": "Neither the president who had called it into being nor the foreigners who had made a fortune building it had faith in what they were creating. But had there been greater faith before?"

China plans to lend Congo $5bn
Joe Bavier, Reuters, Sep 20, 2007

KINSHASA — China plans to lend the Democratic Republic of Congo $5bn to modernise decrepit infrastructure in the rich but run-down mining sector in another huge Chinese investment foray in Africa. Under a draft accord signed on Monday, Beijing earmarked funds for major road and rail construction projects and for rehabilitation of Congo’s mining sector, a treasure chest of copper, cobalt, gold and diamonds still to be fully tapped.

Congolese Infrastructure and Public Works Minister Pierre Lumbi said yesterday the repayment terms proposed included mining concessions and toll revenue deals to be given to Chinese companies. "This agreement will allow us to carry out important large-scale projects. What we have are repayment methods in terms of mining concessions, but also others like toll revenues," Lumbi said. If fully disbursed, the loan will be one of the biggest Chinese financial commitments in Africa.

In recent years the Asian economic giant has sunk billions of dollars into energy, mining and infrastructure projects from Algeria to Angola. Of the $5bn total, $3bn to be lent in a first phase will cover big infrastructure projects, including a 3,400-km highway between the northeast city of Kisangani and Kasumbalesa on Congo’s southern border with Zambia. The loan also will cover construction of a 3,200-km railway to link the country’s southern mining heartland to its western port of Matadi, with access to the Atlantic. The first phase also covers plans to build 31 hospitals, 145 health centres and two universities.

The remaining $2-billion is to go towards rehabilitating mineral-rich Congo’s crumbling mining infrastructure and setting up joint ventures in the mines sector, according to the draft accord. Since the landmark elections in Congo last year, which President Joseph Kabila won, foreign mining companies have been scrambling to get stakes in the Congolese mining sector, one of Africa’s richest. The Kabila government has launched a review of mining contracts to weed out suspect deals and negotiate new accords potentially more beneficial to the country.

The former Belgian colony, previously named Zaire, has seen its once mighty mining sector wrecked by wars, foreign invasions and years of corruption, mismanagement and neglect under former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

Congo rebel leader Nkunda opposes deal with China. CBC, Oct 30, 2008
The leader of the rebel faction besieging a provincial capital in eastern Congo said Thursday he wanted to have direct negotiations with the country's government in an effort to put an end to future fighting, and to discuss economic and security issues. Rebel Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda unilaterally called a ceasefire late Wednesday that put an end to most of the violence that has flared since his followers began a four-day offensive in the eastern province of North Kivu. He wants additional security for ethnic Tutsis in the Congo, and he is concerned about a deal with China that would give the rising Asian power access to the Congo's brimming mineral reserves, he told the Associated Press by telephone. "We want peace for people in the region," Nkunda said after halting his advance on Goma, the capital of North Kivu, close to border with Rwanda.....Nkunda's comments come a day after chaos hit the North Kivu capital as his rebels advanced. Tens of thousands of residents, refugees and government soldiers fled Goma. When the sun went down, drunk Congo army soldiers pillaged and raped in Goma, killing at least nine people in their homes, according to UN Radio Okapi. Nkunda, with about 10,000 rebels under his command, has said he will take Goma. But so far he has heeded UN demands to stay out of the city. Nkunda told Associated Press he demands the disarmament of a Rwandan Hutu militia that he says works with the government and preys on his minority Tutsi people. He alleges the Congolese government, led by President Joseph Kabila, has not protected ethnic Tutsis from the Rwandan Hutu militia that escaped to Congo after helping slaughter half a million Rwandan Tutsis in the 1994 genocide. "It's not acceptable for government soldiers to be fighting alongside genociders," Nkunda said. In the interview, he also voiced his opposition to a $9 billion US deal that allows China access to Congo's vast mineral reserves in exchange for infrastructure improvements. Under the deal, the joint venture will have the rights to extract 9.6 million tonnes of copper and more than 500,000 tonnes of cobalt. In return, Congo will get $6 billion US worth of new roads, two hydroelectric dams, hospitals, schools and a railway. The remaining $3 billion US will be invested in mining infrastructure....

ZIMBABWE SPADE RED CHINA ("...I asked myself is there justice in this world? The super power is continuing strengthening Mugabe’s regime. Just like the way the Chinese are strengthening him and Kabila with lucrative deals. Will we never see the back of him?...")

"Kill Tutsis wherever they are" (Hutu mission of extermination) & Roots of war in Eastern Congo (genocidal Hutus from Rwanda) & Oh, Congo (mineral & oil concessions to China; cancelled contracts with Europeans). TravelVideo, May 8, 2008

China Food Africa Congo opposition blasts China deal (giving mineral & oil concessions). Telegraph, May 10, 2008
...African nations are increasingly alarmed by China's activities. Yesterday, opposition parties in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) blasted a US$9-billion loan and investment package with China as "incoherent and unbalanced" and called for its renegotiation and an international tender. Beijing signed the deal in January as part of a continent-wide investment push that has sparked tensions with former colonial masters and international donors.


Congo/UN/Hutu armies attacking Nkunda (heavy artillery & backup helicopters) & Nkunda must leave Congo says USA (surrender & go into exile or face bloody violence from UN) & Force against Nkunda catastrophic (dwarf every crisis on continent). BBC/AFP/NewTimes, Dec 3, 2007

China Helicopter
Canada sells helicopter engines to China (Z-10 attackers each carry 14 missiles; to be used in Sudan, Burma, Taiwan...). CBC, Oct 25, 2007

The Chinese and Congo take a giant leap of faith, Sep 21, 2007

China lending Congo $5-billion. Business Day, Sep 19, 2007
...Congolese Infrastructure and Public Works Minister Pierre Lumbi said yesterday the repayment terms proposed included mining concessions and toll revenue deals to be given to Chinese companies....If fully disbursed, the loan will be one of the biggest Chinese financial commitments in Africa...


Congo trying to stay in one peace. New Vision, Aug 20, 2007 (...The rump of the [Congo] army is rotten. By one account, soldiers get just 15 meals a month. Most of their wages are stolen, so they turn to theft in their turn. The 100,000 or so who had demobilised have had little success in finding jobs. Many may rejoin armed groups out of frustration. Western diplomats say the government will soon turn to China for a no-strings arms deal and military training in return for easier access to mining, oil and logging....)


Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~