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Battery Metals Revealing the Limits of U.S. Pressure?

File image of a worker operating a nickel-smelting furnace in Indonesia. Bannu MAZANDRA / AFP

The meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Indonesian counterpart Joko Widodo is currently dominating China-Global South conversations. This isn’t because anything particularly notable emerged from their discussion. Rather, the very blandness of the meeting seems to signal a possible normalization of Chinese outward engagement, which had been much diminished due to COVID lockdowns. 

Indonesia’s move to force foreign companies to process battery mineral exports like nickel inside the country is being closely watched by mineral exporters in Africa and elsewhere. A spotty power supply and other infrastructure gaps make it harder for a country like the Democratic Republic of the Congo to follow Indonesia’s lead, at least in the immediate term. But even so, Chinese companies will probably soon face similar pressure from commodities producers along the belt and road.

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