BBC Newsnight: China’s $9bln Investment in the Congo (Part 1)

China in AfricaBefore I moved to the Democratic Republic of Congo, someone asked me if I was going to learn the local language.  I replied that “I already do speak the local language there… Mandarin.”  Obviously, Mandarin is not spoken by very many people in Kinshasa or elsewhere in the DRC, however that may not be the case for long given the growing influence of the Chinese there.  In 2006 when I first visited the DRC the only Chinese I saw were in one of the two Chinese restaurants in the capital.  Three years later, the city was unrecognizable.  Chinese were everywhere!  No joke.  They are part of a massive way of over a million Chinese across Africa who are building infrastructure, working in the mines and managing China’s growing investment portfolio across the continent.  So far, the Chinese are being treated with the kindness that Africans customarily extend to guests.  They are still to new to the region and African governments and populations are still getting to know the Chinese.  While they learn more about Beijing’s motivations and their operational style in Africa, the Chinese will likely not receive much critical scrutiny.  However, as Beijing’s commitments in Africa deepen, it will no doubt prompt renewed evaluation of the Chinese and their policies in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  BBC’s “Newsnight” program produced an excellent documentary that serves as the first critical evaluation of what China is doing in the DRC.

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