Washington D.C., 16 July, 2022 / 11:30 am (ACI Africa).
China is exploiting children in the Democratic Republic of Congo, forcing them to work under hazardous conditions to mine the cobalt that powers electronic devices and electric cars, witnesses at a congressional hearing on human rights violations testified this week.
“On the backs of trafficked workers and child laborers, China exploits the vast cobalt resources of the DRC to fuel its economy and global agenda,” said Rep. Christopher Smith, R-New Jersey, who chaired the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing July 14.
The hearing was entitled “Child Labor and Human Rights Violations in the Mining Industry of the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
“The Chinese Communist Party’s quest for cobalt for batteries and lithium for solar panels to power the so-called Green Economy motivates human rapacity as an estimated 40,000 children in Congo toil in non-regulated artisanal mines under hazardous conditions,” Smith said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) produces more than 70% of the world's cobalt, 15% to 30% of which is produced in artisanal mines. For years, these small-scale operations have been notorious for human rights violations. The Council on Foreign Relations attributes the inhumane working conditions, in part, to the instability of the DRC, “a country weakened by violent ethnic conflict, Ebola, and high levels of corruption.”