A new source of energy can be found at the forefront of electric-vehicle development in the 21st century, and China is beginning to dominate in controlling the world’s supply of this so-called new petroleum: the mineral cobalt. Cobalt is one of the key components of the lithium-ion batteries used to power electric vehicles (EVs).
While Japanese electric carmakers are struggling to acquire the mineral and called for government assistance during a July 24 industry meeting in Tokyo, Chinese companies have been able to control one of the world’s key sources: mines in the central African nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is one of the world’s poorest countries.
More than half of the world’s cobalt originates from Congo, and China’s control of the cobalt industry is as if it “had total control over oil fields in the Middle East,” an unidentified official with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry told Nikkei.
Nikkei, citing information from the government agency, Japan External Trade Organization, pointed out that China had provided $9 billion in financial aid to Africa from 2007 to 2009.
The aid is a perfect example of China’s “dollar diplomacy,” whereby the Chinese regime provides large sums of loans and investments to foreign countries in order to exert its influence in the region.