The video flashed around WhatsApp groups, Twitter and Facebook. Shot at a Chinese-owned copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, it showed two men screaming and writhing on the dusty ground as soldiers kicked and whipped them, while helmeted managers watched.
It was one of many videos and photos that went viral on Congolese social media in recent months – some real, some fake – all provoking outrage at the alleged mistreatment of local workers by Chinese mining companies.
The backlash against the Chinese miners has been rising this year, even as they face another threat: a decision by the DRC government to review some of its biggest deals with Chinese mining investors. The two issues have become a major challenge to Beijing’s dominance of the Congolese copper and cobalt sectors – both of which are vital for China’s production of electric vehicles (EVs).
In a sign of the DRC’s growing importance to the Chinese economy, Beijing is responding to the challenge with unexpected swiftness and humility, rushing to repair its battered image in the Central African country.
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