DR Congo: China’s Role in Child Labour and Human Rights Violations
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.
Exploiting children is always terrible. However, I’m never sure whether these things are stated correctly. Is it the state of China that’s exploiting children, or individuals who work to the lowest standards allowed? The real problem is the lack of protective laws in DR Congo, or, if these laws exist, to enforce them.
Yes: the Chinese companies should work to internationally recognised standards – but the evidence presented is demonising the Chinese government rather than condemning the poor governance of the DRC. If there was an internal market for these minerals, children would be exploited to the same degree. It’s easy to blame all ills on the foreigner rather than see the enemy within.
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