Between 2007 and 2008, under the DRC’s former president Joseph Kabila’s regime, Kinshasa and Beijing signed a very specific set of mining contracts, which are now referred to as the famous ‘Chinese contracts’. These were apparently simple barter contracts, where a group of Chinese companies – China Railway Group Limited and Sinohydro Corporation – undertook to build thousands of kilometres of road and rail infrastructure, as well as hundreds of health centres and hospitals, for a total of $6bn. In return, the DRC allowed these companies to mine a number of their copper, cobalt and gold reserves.
Promises that are slow to materialise
However, more than 10 years after these ‘Chinese contracts’ were signed and the start of mineral exploitation, the promised infrastructure has been slow to materialise. According to Kabila’s successor, the only way to resolve this ‘injustice’ is to
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