Cablegate: Congo/B: Chinese Presence in Congo-Brazzaville

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.






E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: A) STATE 153199 B) KINSHASA 001345

1. (U) SUMMARY: As was stated in Ref B, Chinese presence
in the Republic of Congo (ROC) is on the rise. One
corporation is constructing a hydroelectric dam, another is
building low-income housing, another is bringing drinking
water to low-income communities, and yet another is
expanding television and radio broadcasting facilities.
Since the distribution of Ref B did not reach the audience
Ref A intended, the relevant portion of Ref B is repeated

2. (U) China has assumed a leading role in the area of
economic development in the ROC. The China Machinery
Equipment Corporation (CMEC) entered into a contract with
the Congolese Government on March 25, 2003, to construct a
dam on the Lefini River at Imboulou located about 125 miles
north of Brazzaville. Construction started in April of this
year and is expected to be completed in 2009 at a cost of
some $250 million. Most of the material for the project
will be imported from China. About 500 workers are
currently employed by the project: 115 Chinese technicians
and 385 Congolese. This appears to be China's largest
projects in Congo.

3. (U) Another Chinese company called WIETC has a joint
venture agreement with a construction company called SOPROGI
to build housing projects. In the first phase of
construction, 103 houses will be built in Oyo, a city
located 187 miles north of Brazzaville in the Pool Region of
Congo. This is the region that experienced periodic
insurgent activity until a peace accord was signed between
the government and the so- called Ninja rebels in March
2003. This project is employing 70 Congolese workers and 12
Chinese engineers. On July 15, 2005, this company also
began construction of low-income housing in Bacongo, a
district of Brazzaville heavily populated by supporters of
Pastor Ntumi, the leader of the Ninja rebels. Housing is a
major social issue for low-income Congolese, and completion
of this project will be highly valued by all Congolese,
including Pastor Ntumi. The location of these development
projects in the areas heavily populated by Ninja supporters
is viewed as an overture by the government to build
confidence and trust among the people in those areas.

4. (U) During a recent visit to Brazzaville, the Chinese
Minister of Communications, Tian Jin, told journalists that
China is ready to help Congo in the field of television and
radio broadcasting. Recalling that China had already built
the Broadcasting House in Brazzaville where radio and
television stations are based, one journalist asked the
Minister how did China intend to become even more involved
in the sector. The Minister reportedly replied that China
attaches great importance to African television. He said
China has to maintain good relations with African television
to establish deeper relations of friendship. In Congo, he
said the strategy is to first study the possibility of
training Congolese in the television industry, because if
they have the necessary equipment but not sufficient
training they will not advance. Then, he said, China would
assess the equipment needs of the existing channels. That
will make easier twinning between Chinese and Congolese
channels. He expressed the view that the field of
collaboration is vast and open and that a lot could be
accomplished by working together.

5. (U) On Monday, August 1, 2005, the entire diplomatic
corps was invited to Bikaroua, a low-income suburb of
Brazzaville, to witness the opening of the Bikaroua water
project. With the Chinese ambassador to Congo seated on the
dais beside President Sassou, this project was hailed as a
model of Sino-Congolese collaboration. The speaker said
that after many calls for offers of assistance, it was the
Chinese firm China Beijing Residential Development and
Construction Group Corporation that saw fit to undertake the
heavy burden of this accomplishment. The cost of the
project was placed in excess of 3.9 billion francs CFA, all
taxes included.
6. (U) The construction of the project at Bikaroua is part
of a government program to provide to all Congolese access
to drinking water. The national plan is to provide
drinking water to at least twelve urban and suburban
communities throughout the country. Numerous borings were
done in Pointe Noire and were highlighted during the 44th
Independence Day celebration in Pointe Noire last year. The
next boring to be inaugurqated is at Sibiti, with Impfondo
and Mossaka to follow soon thereafter. For Brazzaville
proper, the Bikaroua project is a link in a chain. Drinking
water will not only be supplied to the peripheral Kombo
neighborhood, but will be extended to the quarters of
Massengo and Moukondo as well. The long-term goal is to
supply drinking water to the entire 10, 000 residents of the
city of Brazzaville. The quality of the water is said to
meet WHO standards for potability.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: As the Chinese presence in Congo
increases, naturally some criticisms of that increased
presence also begin to surface. Several Congolese
professionals reported that airport customs inspectors
discovered that some of the duty-free shipments of supplies
and equipment were not at all related to the construction
projects. Instead, they found furniture, clothing, and
other commodities intended for sale on the local market.
Such consumer goods are not allowed duty-free entry under
the agreements negotiated. As the number of Chinese stores
and restaurants increase, local Lebanese businessmen are
said to be unhappy with the competition for market share.
For the poor working class people, however, especially the
women and children who do most of the work of carrying water
cans long distances from an impure source to their homes,
these projects represent relief from the burden of numerous
chores and the possibility of a better life. END COMMENT.

8. Brazzaville Embassy Office - Anderson


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