Occasional Paper

Goodwill and Hard Bargains: The DRC, China and India

“The economic and political engagement of China and India with the African continent is
growing, but the complex dynamics of this engagement, particularly at country-specific
level, remain under-researched. This study explores historical, political and economic
aspects of India and China’s relationship with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It first traces the historical development of China and India’s political and trade relations with the DRC from the 1950s to the present day. There follows specific consideration of Indian and Chinese involvement in mining, construction, finance, and telecommunications. The
study shows that while Indian and Chinese business and governments are both significant
drivers of growth in the DRC, the nature of their engagement differs substantially. Significantly, unlike its Indian counterpart, the Chinese government facilitates access by Chinese stateowned
companies to large mining deposits in the DRC through loans from the state-owned
Export-Import Bank. In the telecommunications sector, however, the most successful Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, receives no noticeable state assistance. Meanwhile India’s Bharti has become the DRC’s biggest telecommunications investor and operator. Politically, China has positioned itself as a close ally of President Joseph Kabila while India, the main
troop contributor to the UN mission to the DRC, has a more strained relationship. The study concludes that China and India’s role in delivering infrastructural development to the DRC is welcome, but that projects required continued and careful scrutiny by civil society and the country’s democratic institutions.”