Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-mgjtl Total loading time: 0.345 Render date: 2022-06-27T10:58:46.585Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Win-win or unequal exchange? The case of the Sino-Congolese cooperation agreements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2009

Stefaan Marysse*
Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Sara Geenen*
Institute of Development Policy and Management, University of Antwerp, Prinsstraat 13, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium


The recent involvement of China in sub-Saharan Africa is challenging and changing the world geostrategic scene. In the article, we analyse the agreements between the Congolese government and a group of Chinese state-owned enterprises. A number of public infrastructure works will be financed with Chinese loans. To guarantee reimbursement, a Congolese/Chinese joint venture will be created to extract and sell copper, cobalt and gold. These are the biggest trade/investment agreements that China has so far signed in Africa. This article seeks to contribute to the discussion regarding the agreement's impact on internal development in Congo. Does it create a ‘win-win’ situation for all, or is it an unequal exchange? We outline the internal and international debates and analyse several noteworthy characteristics of the agreements. In conclusion, we present a balanced view on the likely impact on Congo's short-term and long-term development.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Les Afriques. 2008. ‘Fermeture de 44 entreprises minières au Katanga’, avaialble at:, accessed 5.12.2008.Google Scholar
Airult, P. 2007. ‘Les dessous de l'offensive chinoise en RD Congo’, Jeune Afrique 30.9.2007.Google Scholar
Alden, C. & Alves, C. A.. 2008. ‘History and identity in the construction of China's Africa policy’, Review of African Political Economy 35, 1: 4358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Alterinfo. 2008. ‘Les contrats chinois en RDC: un nouvel ordre économique pour l'Afrique?’ and comments, available at:, accessed 26.5.2008.Google Scholar
L'Avenir. 2007. ‘Editorial’, Kinshasa, 22.9.2007.Google Scholar
L'Avenir. 2008. ‘Chine-RDC: le FMI devant un fait accompli’, Kinshasa, 24.6.2008.Google Scholar
Bavier, J. 2008. ‘Congo recalls Belgium envoy in diplomatic row’, Reuters, available at:, accessed 24.5.2008.Google Scholar
Bézy, F., Peemans, J. P. & Wautelet, J. M.. 1984. l'Accumulation au Zaïre. Louvain-La-Neuve: Presses Louvain-La-Neuve.Google Scholar
Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS). 2007. China's Interest and Activity in Africa's Construction and Infrastructure Sectors. University of Stellenbosch: Centre for Chinese Studies, for DfID China.Google Scholar
Corkin, L. & Naidu, S.. 2008. ‘China & India in Africa: an introduction’, Review of African Political Economy 35, 1: 115–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Croll, P. J., Lebzien, A. & Paes, W. C.. 2008. ‘Yellow imperialism or successful wealth creation formula? How the trade in natural resources is changing Chinese-African relations’, Bonn: Bonn International Centre for Conversion, BICC Focus 7.Google Scholar
Cros, M.-F. & Misser, F.. 2006. Géopolitique du Congo (RDC). Brussels: Ed. Complexe.Google Scholar
Davies, P. 2007. China and the end of Poverty in Africa – towards mutual benefit? Sundbyberg: Alfaprint.Google Scholar
Digitalcongo. 2007. ‘Les milliards chinois en RDC’, available at:, accessed 21.11.2007.Google Scholar
Edinger, H. & Jansson, J.. 2008. ‘China stirs the DRC financing pot’, Mining Weekly, available at:, accessed 12.9.2008.Google Scholar
A Fair Share for Congo. 2008. ‘Update 4 April 2008: DRC Mining Contract Review: Overview and State of Play’, available at:, accessed 10.5.2008.Google Scholar
Holslag, J., Geeraerts, G., Gorus, J. & Smis, S.. 2007. China's Resources and Energy Policy in Sub-Saharan Africa: report for the Development Committee of the European Parliament. Brussels: Vrije Universiteit Brussel.Google Scholar
Holslag, J. 2007. ‘Charmeoffensief bekoort niet alle Afrikanen’, De Morgen 18.8.2007.Google Scholar
IMF. 2007. Democratic Republic of the Congo: 2007 Article iv Consultation – Staff Report; Staff Supplement; Staff Statement; Public Information Notice on the Executive Board Discussion; and Statement by the Executive Director for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Washington, DC: IMF Country Report no. 07/327, September 2007.Google Scholar
Institut des Sciences Sociales de la Chine. 2004. La politique africaine de la Chine. Beijing.Google Scholar
, Mana. 2008. ‘Chine-RDC: les vraies questions d'une coopération qui fait problème’, Le Potentiel 12.5.2008.Google Scholar
Kabamba, R. 2008. ‘Contrat Chine-RDC: le pouvoir de Kinshasa floue le peuple’, available at:, accessed 13.5.2008.Google Scholar
Kabuya Lumuna Sando, C. 2008. ‘Cinq chantiers, cinq piliers, cinq questions … Plaidoyer pour un «Plan Marshall»’, Le Potentiel, Kinshasa, 19.5.2008.Google Scholar
Kabwe, W. 2007. ‘Crédit Chinois’, Le Potentiel, Kinshasa, 19.9.2007.Google Scholar
Kaplinsky, R. 2006. ‘Winners and losers: China's trade threats and opportunities for Africa’, in Wild, L. & Mepham, D., eds. The New Sinosphere: China in Africa. London: Institute of Public Policy Research, 1221.Google Scholar
Kaplinsky, R., McCormick, D. & Morris, M.. 2007. ‘The impact of China on sub-Saharan Africa’, working paper 291, Brighton: IDS.Google Scholar
Kaplinsky, R. & Morris, M.. 2006. Dangling by a Thread: how sharp are the Chinese scissors? Brighton: IDS, DfID report.Google Scholar
Katanga Infos. 2008a. ‘Métaux: plus de 300.000 emplois supprimés dans le secteur minier au Katanga’, available at:, accessed 20.12.2008.Google Scholar
Katanga Infos. 2008b. ‘Crise financière mondiale: le Group Forrest International joue la carte de transparence’, available at:, accessed 13.12.2008.Google Scholar
Katanga Online. 2008. ‘La baisse de 50% du prix du cuivre au centre d'une réunion à Lubumbashi’, available at:, accessed 3.11.2008.Google Scholar
Kennes, E. 2005. ‘The mining sector in Congo: the victim or the orphan of globalization?’, in Marysse, S. & Reyntjens, F., eds. The Political Economy of the Great Lakes Region in Africa: the pitfalls of enforced democracy and globalization. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 152–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kirongozi, Ichalanga. 2008. ‘Contrat RDC-Entreprises chinoises: point de vue d'un expert, spécialiste de la Chine’, Congolite 19.5.2008.Google Scholar
Kuediasala, F. 2007. ‘Avec qui la Chine exécutera-t-elle ses grands projets d'infrastructures?’, Le Potentiel, Kinshasa, 20.9.2007.Google Scholar
Lancaster, C. 2007. The Chinese aid system. Washington, DC: Center for Global Development.Google Scholar
Matshi. 2008. ‘L'ambassadeur Wu Zexian revient sur le contrat controversé Chine-RDC’, Le Potentiel, Kinshasa, 1.10.2008.Google Scholar
Mbelu, J. P. 2007. ‘Les accords signés avec la Chine créeront-ils un Congo différent?’, Congolite 27.9.2007.Google Scholar
McCormick, D. 2008. ‘China & India as Africa's new donors: the impact of aid on development’, Review of African Political Economy 35, 1: 7392.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mediacongo. 2008. ‘Katanga: fermeture massive des enterprises minières, la FEC interpelle l'Etat congolais’, available at:, accessed 17.11.2008.Google Scholar
Mohan, G. & Power, M.. 2008. ‘New African choices? The politics of Chinese engagement’, Review of African Political Economy 35, 1: 2342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mohan, G. 2008. ‘China in Africa: a review essay’, Review of African Political Economy 35, 1: 155–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Le Monde. 2008. ‘George Forrest le vice-roi du Katanga’, Paris, 27.3.2008.Google Scholar
Ngoie Tshibambe, G. & Kabika Etobo, C.. 2007. ‘Les relations sino-africaines: entre l'espoir et les controverses’, Congo-Afrique, 47, 418: 599619.Google Scholar
Okitonembo Westhongunda, L. 2008. ‘Contrats Chinois: une analyse purement juridique’, Congolite, available at:, accessed 17.7.2008.Google Scholar
People's Republic of China (PRC). 2006. China's African Policy. Available at:, accessed 21.5.2008.Google Scholar
Le Potentiel. 2007a. ‘14 milliards de dollars de la Chine pour la RDC!’, Kinshasa, 16.10.2007.Google Scholar
Le Potentiel. 2007b. ‘Contrats Chine-RDC: les masques sont tombés’, Kinshasa, 20.11.2007.Google Scholar
Le Potentiel. 2008a. ‘Pour les députés de l'Opposition à l'Assemblée nationale: Contrat Chine-RDC: encore des éclaircissements’, Kinshasa, 10.5.2008.Google Scholar
Le Potentiel. 2008b. ‘Contrats Chinois: rendez-vous dans une année’, Kinshasa, 14.5.2008.Google Scholar
Power, M. & Mohan, G.. 2008. ‘Good friends & good partners: the “new” face of China-African cooperation’, Review of African Political Economy 35, 1: 56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
République Democratique du Congo, Ministère des Mines, Commission de révisitation des contrats miniers (RDC). 2007. Rapport des Travaux. Kinshasa: November 2007.Google Scholar
Taylor, I. 2007. ‘Unpacking China's resource diplomacy in Africa’, Current African Issues 33: 1025.Google Scholar
Tshikwenda, G. 2008. ‘Contrats passés entre la RDC et le groupe d'entreprises chinoises: les enjeux de la convention minière RDC-Chine, analyse des experts congolais’, available at:, accessed 7.7.2008.Google Scholar
Tshilombo Wa Nshimba, A. 2007. ‘Plaidoyer pour le troc: des actifs à valeur externe en vue de l'accroissement des actifs à valeur interne’, Congo-Afrique 47: 418.Google Scholar
Tull, D. 2006. ‘China's engagement in Africa’, Journal of Modern African Studies 44, 3: 459–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
World Bank. 2008. ‘République Démocratique du Congo: la Banque Mondiale approuve un don de 50 millions de dollars pour le réseau routier’, Communiqué de Presse 2008/240/AFR.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Win-win or unequal exchange? The case of the Sino-Congolese cooperation agreements
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Win-win or unequal exchange? The case of the Sino-Congolese cooperation agreements
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Win-win or unequal exchange? The case of the Sino-Congolese cooperation agreements
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *