As global demand for critical rare earth elements rises, many countries have looked to Africa’s abundant stores of cobalt, lithium, copper and other minerals vital to the manufacturing of modern technologies. China is among the largest players on the continent with billions invested in the African mining and mineral extraction sectors. In 2019 alone, China imported nearly $10 billion worth of minerals from sub-Saharan Africa.

China's massive footprint in the African mining sector has solidified its position as a major force in the industry and as a primary destination for African mineral exports. However, China's involvement also raises concerns about the transparency of its operations, environmental sustainability, labor practices, and the long-term impact on African economies and local communities.

On June 29, USIP hosted a timely conversation about China’s role in Africa’s growing mining sector, how it connects with peace and security on the continent, and what it all means for the United States.

Continue the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CriticalMineralsUSIP.

Speakers

Briana Boland
Research Associate for the Freeman Chair in China Studies, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Eric Olander
Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder, China-Global South Project

Lauren Herzer Risi
Program Director, Environmental Change and Security Program, Wilson Center

Tom Sheehy, moderator
Distinguished Fellow, Africa Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

Related Publications

Whither NATO at 75?

Whither NATO at 75?

Thursday, April 11, 2024

By: Ambassador William B. Taylor;  Mirna Galic

NATO marked its 75th anniversary last week at a celebration in Brussels. While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has injected the alliance with new life and resolve, the 32-member collective security pact is also wrestling with its future in a world of growing great power competition. In 2022, NATO formally identified for the first time China as a challenge to its interests and collective security. As NATO continues to support Ukraine and look to future global challenges, it also has internal issues to address, ranging from individual member defense spending to the problems posed by the need for collective decision-making among 32 members.

Type: Question and Answer

Global Policy

Myanmar’s Collapsing Military Creates a Crisis on China’s Border

Myanmar’s Collapsing Military Creates a Crisis on China’s Border

Thursday, April 11, 2024

By: Jason Tower

Operation 1027 — an offensive launched in October 2023 by an alliance of three ethnic armed organizations (EAOs) against the military junta in Myanmar — has disrupted hundreds of forced labor scam syndicates operating under the protection of Myanmar’s army, dented the army’s image of invincibility and decimated the lucrative China-Myanmar border trade. A second operation launched on March 7 by another EAO in Kachin State has compounded China’s economic woes by adding to the impact on trade.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

A Small State Heavyweight? How Singapore Handles U.S.-China Rivalry

A Small State Heavyweight? How Singapore Handles U.S.-China Rivalry

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

By: Terence Lee, Ph.D.

Alice Ba pertinently observes in her introductory essay to this series that Southeast Asia has become a key arena in the ongoing U.S.-China rivalry; regional countries are under growing pressure to choose between the two powers. For Singapore, this competition has provoked a debate on the extent of agency in the conduct of the city-state’s foreign policy. Two perspectives have emerged in this regard.

Type: Analysis

Global Policy

View All Publications