China-DRC Ties: Key Developments in Agriculture, Mining & Security Domains - Li Hui's 'Ceasefire' Call Falls Flat
I hope everyone’s well. I am doing a weekend edition today to cover the visit of DRC President Felix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo to China and reports on special envoy Li Hui’s engagements during his visit to European countries and Russia.
I. China-DRC Ties
The key story in the People’s Daily today is on Xi Jinping’s meeting with Tshisekedi. Xi spoke about the two sides being “strategic partners with a profound traditional friendship forged in the course of fighting for national liberation and opposing colonial aggression.”
“Xi said China's successful experience in its path to modernization shows that developing countries have the right and the ability to explore modernization paths suited to their national conditions, adding that China is ready to synergize its development strategies with the DRC, support each other and promote cooperation and development. He expressed the belief that China's high-quality development will provide more cooperation opportunities and a broader market for the DRC and promote greater development of bilateral relations. China will, as always, help the DRC in its economic and social development, support its industrialization strategy, strengthen cooperation in energy, mining, agriculture, infrastructure, and manufacturing, and tap the potential of cooperation in the digital economy, education, and health, Xi said, adding that China is ready to send agricultural technology experts to the DRC. China hopes that the DRC will provide policy support and service convenience for Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in the DRC and foster a fair, just, and safe business environment, he said. Xi said China is ready to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the DRC in multilateral affairs, jointly practice true multilateralism, and uphold international fairness and justice. Noting that China and Africa have always been a community with a shared future, Xi said the two sides need to strengthen solidarity and cooperation more than ever under the current international situation. He called on the two sides to uphold the basic norms governing international relations, oppose all forms of hegemonism and power politics, oppose interference in other countries' internal affairs, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries. China firmly supports Africa in pursuing an independent development path and becoming an important pole in the world politics, economy and civilization, Xi said, adding that China is ready to provide new opportunities for African countries with its new development. China will work with Africa to implement the outcomes of the Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in Dakar, advance Belt and Road cooperation, support Africa in achieving sustainable development, and build a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, Xi said.”
In terms of outcomes, the two sides announced “the elevation of the bilateral relationship from a strategic partnership of win-win cooperation to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.”
Tshisekedi also met with Premier Li Qiang and Zhao Leji. Xinhua’s report on the meeting with Li says: “Li urged efforts to further expand trade and investment cooperation, boost cooperation in such traditional fields as infrastructure construction and mining industry, and actively explore new growth drivers of cooperation in such areas as agriculture, finance, new energy, and cultural and people-to-people exchange. It is hoped the DRC can provide a fair and just business environment for Chinese enterprises to make investment in the country, and better guarantee the security and legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and institutions there.”
There’s an interesting line in this report with Tshisekedi saying that the DRC “is willing to learn from China's experience in its leapfrog development.” It’s interesting because it underscores that even if Beijing isn’t exporting its model of development, there is a demonstration effect that it’s rapid economic development has had on leaders in the developing world.
Xinhua’s report on the meeting with Zhao says: “Zhao said that the NPC of China is willing to strengthen exchanges and mutual learning with the DRC parliament and jointly promote the building of democratic politics suited to national conditions.”
The two sides also put out a joint statement after the visit. This is published on the next page. Some interesting excerpts from the joint statement:
Both parties agree to further enhance cooperation in fields like: education, scientific research, healthcare, infrastructure construction, mining, agriculture, digitalization, environment, sustainable development, hydrocarbon fuels, energy, defense, and security. 进一步提升中刚关系，将合作拓展至教育、科研、卫生、基础设施建设、矿业、农业、数字、环境、可持续发展、碳氢燃料、能源、防务与安全等符合双方利益的各个领域；
Constantly enhance people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, carry out close cultural exchanges and interactions, promote tourism, and consolidate the achievements made in the field of human rights in the spirit of independence and mutual respect. 不断增进两国人民交往，开展紧密的文化交流互动，促进旅游，并本着独立和相互尊重的精神巩固人权领域已取得的成就；
Strengthen experience exchanges, better connect Chinese-style modernization with DRC’s economic and social development goals, and establish a fruitful, innovative, fair, closer and more stable strategic partnership. 加强经验交流，更好对接中国式现代化和刚经济与社会发展目标，建立丰硕、创新、公平、更加紧密、更加稳定的战略伙伴关系.
Strengthen mutual support on core interests, which is the “core essence of China-DRC relations.” “China reiterates its firm support for the DRC side in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, safeguarding its own security and development interests. China firmly supports the DRC side in steadily advancing major domestic political agenda items, firmly supports the people of the DRC in independently choosing a development path that suits their national conditions, and resolutely opposes external forces’ interference in the DRC’s internal affairs. The DRC side reiterates its firm adherence to the one-China principle, believes that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and opposes any words and deeds that undermined China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.” 加强在涉及彼此核心利益问题上的相互支持，这是中刚关系的核心要义。在此，中方重申坚定支持刚方维护国家独立及主权和领土完整、维护自身安全和发展利益，坚定支持刚方平稳推进重大国内政治议程，坚定支持刚人民自主选择符合本国国情的发展道路，坚决反对外部势力干涉刚内政。刚方重申坚定奉行一个中国原则，认为台湾是中国不可分割的一部分，反对任何损害中国主权和领土完整的言行；
Both sides agree to “promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.” 加强国家间团结合作，支持真正的多边主义，推动构建人类命运共同体.
“Strengthen cooperation in the field of peace and security, particularly through close exchanges between the two militaries and collaboration in personnel training, combating transnational crime, equipment technology, military-industrial, joint exercises and joint training. Both sides agree to strengthen the protection of the security and legitimate rights and interests of each other's citizens and institutions within their respective territories. China agrees to provide assistance to the DRC in implementing the Military Planning Law (军事规划法) and in the field of military capacity building.” 加强在和平与安全领域的合作，特别是密切两国军队交流以及在人员培训、打击跨国犯罪、装备技术、军事工业、联演联训等领域合作。双方同意加强保护本国境内对方公民及机构的安全及合法权益。中方在落实《军事规划法》和军事能力建设领域向刚方提供帮助；— Comment: Folks who study Africa or DRC, it would be helpful if you could point me towards this law that is mentioned. This sounds like a significant agreement, within the ambit of GSI.
China will encourage more enterprises to invest in the DRC, participate in infrastructure construction in accordance with the relevant plans formulated and promoted by the DRC, and help the DRC’s economic diversification and industrialization process. China will help the DRC implement its digital transformation plan, continue to expand investment and financing cooperation with the DRC, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in agriculture, processing and manufacturing, and natural resource exploration, development, and on-site processing to increase its added value, and support the DRC achieve independent and sustainable development. The DRC will further improve the business environment, provide favourable conditions for Chinese companies to operate in the DRC, and effectively protect their legitimate rights and interests. At the same time, Chinese companies must abide by the laws and regulations of the DRC; 中方将鼓励更多企业赴刚投资兴业，按照刚方制定并推介的有关规划参与基础设施建设，助力刚经济多元化发展和工业化进程。中方将帮助刚方实施数字转型计划，继续扩大同刚方的投资和融资合作，加强在农业、加工制造以及自然资源勘探、开发和就地加工等领域互利合作以增加其附加值，支持刚方实现自主和可持续发展。刚方将进一步改善营商环境，为中国企业在刚经营提供良好条件，切实保障其合法权益，同时中国企业要遵守刚法律法规；
Regularly evaluate mining cooperation and consolidate relevant cooperation based on the long-term and mutual interests of the two countries. In the spirit of mutual trust, pragmatism and fairness, problems arising in the process of cooperation (in mining) should be solved through friendly consultation. China will continue to encourage its enterprises to expedite the implementation of agreed-upon infrastructure projects, enhance mining cooperation with the DRC, encourage enterprises to participate in the DRC’s new energy battery value chain development projects, and support the DRC in upgrading its industrial chain and enhance its independent development capability; 定期评估矿业合作，从两国长远和相互利益出发巩固有关合作。本着互信、务实、公平的态度，通过友好协商解决合作进程中出现的问题。中方将继续鼓励企业加快实施已商定的基建项目，加强同刚方矿业合作，鼓励企业参与投资刚新能源电池价值链开发项目，支持刚产业链升级和提升自主发展能力；
China welcomes the DRC to join the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative. The DRC is willing to strengthen cooperation with China on the implementation of GDI, GSI and GCI at bilateral and multilateral levels. 中方欢迎刚方加入“全球发展倡议之友小组”。刚方愿在双多边层面就落实全球发展倡议、全球安全倡议和全球文明倡议同中方加强合作。
China is highly concerned about the situation in the eastern part of the country and believes that the countries in the Great Lakes region are a community of destiny and security. China calls on all countries concerned to abide by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the AU Charter, and to respect and safeguard the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of all member States. China condemns violence and human rights abuses by armed groups, expresses sympathy to the people of the DRC who have been victimised by criminal acts, and supports the reconstruction of trust and peace through the implementation of the Nairobi Process and the Luanda Road Map. China supports the efforts of relevant regional organisations to restore peace and security in eastern Congo. China firmly supports Africans in solving African problems in an African way, and supports and encourages relevant regional organisations and the special envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region to continue to play a constructive role.” 中方高度关注刚东部局势，认为大湖地区国家是命运和安全共同体。中方呼吁有关各国遵守联合国宪章宗旨和原则以及非盟章程，尊重和保障各成员国主权、安全和领土完整。中方谴责各武装团体实施暴力和践踏人权，向遭受犯罪行径侵害的刚人民表示同情，支持通过落实内罗毕进程和罗安达路线图重建信任与和平。中方支持有关地区组织为恢复刚东部和平与安全所付出努力。中方坚定支持非洲人以非洲方式解决非洲问题，支持和鼓励相关地区组织、联合国秘书长大湖地区问题特使等继续发挥建设性作用.
II. On Li Hui’s diplomacy in Europe, WSJ reports:
“The Chinese envoy dispatched to push Beijing’s peace plan for Ukraine carried a clear message: U.S. allies in Europe should assert their autonomy and urge an immediate cease-fire, leaving Russia in possession of the parts of its smaller neighbor that it now occupies, according to Western officials familiar with talks in capitals across the continent. Diplomat Li Hui, who has visited Kyiv, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris and Brussels this month, urged European governments to view China as an economic alternative to Washington and said they should move quickly to end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine before it spreads, those officials said.”
The report adds:
“We explained that freezing the conflict is not in the interest of the international community unless there is withdrawal of Russian troops,” a diplomat who spoke to Li said. The diplomat said Li was told “it’s impossible to split Europe from America” and that Europe wouldn’t withdraw support from Ukraine. “They are probably testing the unity of the West and trying to show initiative,” another diplomat said.”
Meanwhile, Li is in Moscow meeting with the Russian leadership. The Moscow Times reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Li that “there were ‘serious obstacles’ to resuming peace talks.” These he said were “created by the Ukrainian side and its Western mentors.”
Earlier Reuters reported that:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin told his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in a call on Friday that Russia was open to dialogue over Ukraine. The report adds: “Russia has repeatedly said it was open to resuming peace talks with Kyiv, which stalled a few months after Russia invaded Ukraine early last year, and has welcomed mediation efforts from both Brazil and China. But it has insisted that any negotiations must be based on ‘new realities’, meaning its declared annexation of four Ukrainian provinces that it largely or partly controls - a condition unacceptable to Kyiv.”
Another interesting bit to note is that Putin invited Lula to attend an economic forum in Saint Petersburg, but Lula declined, saying he “can't visit Russia at the moment.”
From a Ukrainian perspective, Mykhailo Podolyak responded to the WSJ report on Li Hui trying to persuade Western states to push for an immediate ceasefire. He said that:
“Any 'compromise scenario' that does not involves liberating all territories of Ukraine and about which 'anonymous sources' in European and U.S. elites occasionally talk about, is tantamount to recognizing the defeat of democracy, Russia's victory, and the preservation of Putin's regime.”
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