In return for 10 million tons of copper and 600,000 tons of cobalt, China will build roads, schools, hydroelectric dams, and hospitals. Half the deal is a barter, which means that it adds less to the country's foreign debt burden.
"Whether [the deal] will prove to be more effective than the Western model in the long term remains to be seen," says Lizzie Parsons of the Global Witness pressure group. Among unanswered questions: whether money will be siphoned off corruptly, whether all the infrastructure will be built, and what impact fluctuating mineral prices will have on the deal.
Orange construction vehicles from China are already a common sight at roadworks all over the capital, Kinshasa, and more and more people are doing business with Chinese firms. The experience is not always a pleasant one, according to one Western businessman who has worked in Kinshasa for nearly two decades.
"When you see a Chinese come into your office you prepare yourself for a fight," he says. "You are rarely happy at the end of negotiations. They don't show respect or politeness, and there is no feeling," he complains, adding that he rarely builds with Chinese clients the sort of personal relations he enjoys with Congolese or Western businessmen.
The Chinese are sharp, though, and Congo's traditional Western partners feel a little threatened by them, especially in light of Chinese firms' close relationship with the Congolese government, acknowledges the Western businessman.
"We are aware of their strength," he says. "They are protected; they can drive a car with no plates and no one stops them. You try doing that and see what happens."
Another country keen to keep the China card up its sleeve, especially as its relations with Washington turn sour, is Pakistan, whose leaders have recently been trumpeting the two neighbors' "all weather friendship."