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The backstory: China and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are diplomatic partners, working together on significant projects in the DRC, a large African country with valuable minerals like cobalt and copper that China needs for its industries. As for China, it's a major player in getting these minerals from the DRC. Big Chinese companies, like China Railway Group and Zijin Mining Group, are a big part of the DRC’s mining sector.
More recently: In a meeting last May in Beijing, Chinese President Xi Jinping and the DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi talked about their mining cooperation. They agreed to keep a close eye on it and to work out any problems through diplomatic talks. The two nations also announced an upgrade in their relationship, calling it a "comprehensive strategic partnership."
The development: Tshisekedi began his second five-year term last week following a heated December election. Despite winning by a good margin, some in the opposition weren't happy, citing widespread voting problems. In his official address in the capital, Kinshasa, Tshisekedi mentioned that China and the DRC are discussing a US$7 billion financing deal, part of reviewing a 2008 US$6.2 billion minerals-for-infrastructure agreement. He believes the old deal didn't benefit the country that much. Now, he aims to use the US$7 billion for a new plan for improving national infrastructure through the renegotiated project. However, details about fund uses and planned projects are still undisclosed.
Tshisekedi also shared plans to boost the DRC’s economy by addressing issues like inflation and supporting industries. According to the World Bank, over 60% of people in the nation are facing poverty.
"I am aware of your expectations," the DRC’s President Felix Tshisekedi said. "A goal of this new five-year term is to create more jobs."
"We want to build new relations with China, on sound foundations," said government spokesman Patrick Muyaya to Reuters last year.
“The Democratic Republic of Congo is an important country in Africa and the friendship between China and the Democratic Republic of Congo has a long history," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning last year.