Joe Biden has often expressed his concerns about the Chinese dominance of cobalt. With the world moving toward clean energy and global leaders vowing improvement during climate summits, the importance of cobalt has even gained further significance.
It is one of the essential chemicals in the production of electric vehicle batteries, and the country dominating this trade will be able to dominate the electric vehicles market in the near future.
However, according to the latest reports, Hunter Biden’s firm reportedly helped a Chinese company acquire the most lucrative cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo, giving China an upper hand in economic dominance against the USA.
Hunter Biden in Action: Compromising US Interests for Business Gains
During the vice presidency of his father, Hunter Biden, along with two other American investors, controlled thirty percent of an investment firm, Bohai Harvest RST (BHR).
The company purchased $1.14 billion of shares of a Congo-based cobalt mine from a Canadian-based firm named Lundin Mining.
Ultimately, the BHR, with Hunter Biden as one of its founding fathers, sold those shares to the Chinese Molybdenum Company, which gave the Chinese company the ownership of the lucrative cobalt mine.
The US has a history of supporting the Democratic Republic of Congo, primarily to maintain a working relationship with the country in case the world comes down to the cobalt war.
For instance, former President Dwight D. Eisenhower aided the Congo extensively, not only to strengthen its economy but also to upgrade its military capabilities.
Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton followed suit and further cemented the relationship. Not only this but the company Freeport-McMoran, which originally brokered the deal with the Chinese company, invested a massive sum in the country, all for the purpose of selling the mine to a Chinese company at the end of the day.\
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This deal has undoubtedly failed to safeguard the decades of financial investment in the Congo. Consequently, the cobalt-rich countries are likely to lead the global efforts in the electric car industry.
Chinese investors already had control of almost 70% of the Congo mining sector. The country also owns nearly 80 percent of the cobalt refining industry, which is the home to refining crude material into the commercial-grade commodity needed in electric vehicles.
The persisting tensions between the US and China not only in the trade regimes but also in the diplomatic sector make it difficult for the US to acquire much-needed cobalt for clean vehicle manufacturing.
Tesla knows the importance of cobalt and the power of China in driving the industry. Thus, it is thinking beyond cobalt batteries for its vehicles.
However, cobalt batteries are still the most pursued ones in the world as using them is traditional, and not every manufacturer can compete with Tesla by offering cobalt-free electric car batteries.
But Hunter Biden’s firm selling the mine is not the only thing worrisome for the United States. The subsequent administrations have lost these mines to China, which helps the South Asian giant in making its cobalt reserves stronger.
Whether the Obama or Trump’s administration, neither took commendable measures to stop these sales, which could haunt the US in the upcoming times.
US Changing Priorities after the Cold War helped China in Acquiring Cobalt
In the cold war, the US was concerned that the spread of communism would gain control of Congo’s lucrative mines, getting materials like cobalt, lithium, and uranium that are used in making strategically important weapons.
However, since the downfall of the Soviet Union, the US stopped paying attention to those mines, with its focus shifting toward Afghanistan in the wake of the war on terror.
The US put all the resources in the Afghanistan war, followed by its other adventures in the Middle East. Coincidentally, the time overlapped with the Chinese economic revolution, as the country explored cobalt fields also, ultimately establishing its strongholds in Congo.
Hunter Biden came into scrutiny for his business dealing with China in the past as well. This is yet another episode of him coming at crossroads with US interests.
This will be the test case for Biden’s presidency as well, who has often vowed not to bring any conflict of interest in his official line of duty.
Will he instruct the DOJ to launch an inquiry against his own son? The chances look bleak, but only time will tell.