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China in Africa: The Real Story

China and Conflict Minerals: Constructive Cooperation

Deborah Brautigam

Implementation of supply chain checks, as set out in the Chinese guidelines, have the potential to benefit overseas communities as well as implementing Chinese companies. The companies can earn recognition as responsible global players and, in so doing, demonstrate they have no association with the violent groups that for too long have devastated eastern DRC and other conflict-affected areas.
Conflict and minerals in the DRC. copyright Mark Craemer
China is still a relatively new player in African resource investments. Given the poor social and environmental record of Chinese mining and oil companies at home -- and the challenges that face most companies operating in these sectors in Africa (think: Shell in the Niger Delta) or even off the shores of the United States (think: BP in the Gulf of Mexico) Chinese companies have had a steep learning curve about the risks of "going global". Global Witness has come out with a helpful new report on one aspect of these risks: complicated new laws that prohibit the import of minerals from conflict zones, and require source tracing: "Tackling Conflict Minerals: How a New Chinese Initiative Can Address Companies' Risks."

The report is timed to coincide with the launch of (un)official new guidelines on responsible supply chain management in conflict-affected countries put together by the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters (CCCMC) the major Chinese business association grouping mineral import/export companies. It uses the DRC as a case study.

The guidelines themselves are being released today and I will provide a link when available. They were developed with assistance from the German development agency, GIZ. Bravo to GIZ and Global Witness for good, practical work. I hope you plan to translate the report into Chinese so it can have impact in the right places!