Le Monde discusses “China’s Congo Plan”

Jacob Kushner

Where is Chinese Money invested in the DRC?

Sébastien Le Belzic, Le Monde

“The problem is the carelessness of the Congolese government,” says Jacob Kushner, an American journalist who has long worked on Chinese investment in Congo. In its investigation, which began in 2013, it already highlighted the gap between the enormity of Chinese investment in Congo with the poverty of the local population. “Chinese investment in Congo has always been very important with big contracts traded from state to state. Infrastructure projects, mining, as well as small restaurants and shops created by Chinese migrants–these are two different worlds that I wanted to study to see how the Chinese investments have changed Congo,” he says. “But what has really changed is the crisis and the great fear for Africa that these Chinese investments are decreasing … Africa depends heavily on China, too much perhaps. ”

“The question everyone asks is: how have Congolese politicians used the money invested by China in their country?” Jacob Kushner asks. “There needs to be more transparency on these mega-projects and the debts they generate.”

“You can see that in this country we have a lot of resources,” lawyer, opposition party senator and prominent critic of the government’s dealings with China Emery Kabamba told Kushner for his eBook. “But where is the proof that we are really enjoying it? Go ten meters from here, you will see the situation. Five minutes from my office you will see people who don’t have electricity.”

Read the full article at LeMonde.fr/Afrique

The New York Review of Books reviews CHINA’S CONGO PLAN

The Chinese Invade Africa

By Ian Johnson – SEPTEMBER 25, 2014 ISSUE

“Kushner is fair-minded and has invested much time and effort in figuring out the interplay between the new superpower and a poor but strategically important African country.”

“The Chinese approach guarantees that something will get done. As one Congo official told Kushner: ‘It’s been 50 years that we’ve cooperated with the IMF, the World Bank. And for 50 years we’ve had the same problem. There aren’t roads. There aren’t schools. There aren’t universities.'”

“This way of doing business also leaves Chinese companies exposed. A Chinese manager named Robin told Kushner that the Chinese talked with a Congolese official who promised to help them do it. They began courting him with kind words, and later, with gifts. ‘We gave him a car, a house, and a lot of furniture,’ says Robin. ‘He had been to China to meet with our (company) president. He said ‘No problem, I promise you, you can buy a mine in Congo.’ But it was so complicated.’ The mine never materialized.”

“Some Westerners might shake their heads, but the West pioneered not only colonialism in Africa, but the worst practices in dealing with newly independent countries. For thirty years after Congo’s independence, Western countries supported Mobutu Sese Seko, one of Africa’s most corrupt dictators, supplying him with aid and weapons.”
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Read the full review at the New York Review of Books. Download the eBook for iPad / IPhone or from Amazon.

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eBook: China’s Congo Plan, now available

 

 

 

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What does China see in the world’s poorest nation? An opportunity for big business. Congo is known for poverty and conflict, but it is home to an enormous wealth of buried minerals such as copper, whose value is rising on the world market. Already, tens of thousands of Chinese men and women have left their families behind to live in Africa to dig and process ore.

Now, two Chinese state-owned companies are opening the biggest mine Congo has ever seen. In exchange, they’re spending billions of dollars to build new roads and modernize Congo’s infrastructure.

But will Chinese mines and roads help transform Congo in a way Western aid and business has not? Or will Chinese businessmen and Congolese officials get rich while the people continue to live in poverty?

In “China’s Congo Plan”, Jacob Kushner takes us street-side to a grand, Chinese-constructed boulevard in Congo’s capital Kinshasa, to a mountain range where Congolese men, women and children dig for minerals with picks and shovels, and to a factory where Chinese immigrants melt aqua-blue rocks into molten copper lava. Two years after China overtook the United States as Africa’s largest trading partner, Kushner brings us inside the world of China’s rise in the continent.

Kushner’s reporting was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and his research was advised by faculty at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. “China’s Congo Plan” was awarded the Grand Prize in the Atavist Digital Storymakers Award for Graduate Longform, sponsored by the Pearson Foundation.