Zambia president does China U-turn

2011-10-29 20:33

Lusaka - Zambia's President Michael Sata on Saturday said he would welcome Chinese investors, promising to strengthen relations with Beijing, in U-turn on his pre-election anti-China stance

"When we were campaigning people were complaining about the Chinese and I promised that I will sort the Chinese out," said Sata who hosted a luncheon for Beijing investors at the State House.

"They are also going to sort me out and so we are going to use them to develop," he said.

Sata, who was elected in September is known for his tough stand against the influx of Chinese investment into the country, particularly in the mining sector, which he says does not benefit locals.

Zambians working for Chinese-run mines often protest about poor labour conditions and pay.

In 2010, two Chinese mine managers were charged with attempted murder for shooting at 11 Zambian workers protesting over poor pay and work conditions.

The case strained relations between the locals and the Chinese, and charges were later dropped.

The newly elected leader said he would be sending the country's founding president Kenneth Kaunda to China to renew relations between the two nations.

"We will be in a few days be sending president Kaunda to China to renew our acquaintance and say thank you to China for the things they have done," Sata said.

China has invested an estimated $6.1bn in the southern African nation since 2007, equivalent to more than one third of gross domestic product in 2010.

  • Stephen - 2011-10-29 22:05

    In other words he's accepted his first bribe as president!

  • comurray - 2011-10-30 10:31

    Yet another Chinese take over of an African country. Just when will the Africans see the light of day.

  • Gail - 2011-10-30 11:52

    I think the Chinese and the African way of life is more closely related than we realise. Read Country Driving by Peter Hessler - it's an eye opener and factual and relatively unbiased about how the Chinese have gone about building China. Personally we could use some of their realism here as well as their work ethic and lack of unions.Their one child policy makes sense as well. They don't reinvent the wheel, they just copy the ideas on how to make the wheel and use their innate ingenuity and get on with it. Loss of life is taken philosophically and the fittest and most willing survive. Anyone who disturbs the peace and staus quo of the system is swiftly and unequivocally dealt with.

  • Michael McN - 2011-10-30 20:34

    Apparently some in the media don't understand what Michael Sata promised to his countrymen with regard to Sino-Zambian relations if elected president, and now that he is starting to do what he promised, they are confused. Sata's promise was not to send the Chinese packing so that their investments (and therefore the Zambians who stand to benefit from them) can just rot. Sata wants instead to equalize the relationship so that Zambia can continue to benefit long after the Chinese have exhausted the mineral wealth they come to get from Zambia. Once the copper is gone, Zambians cannot magically make more. Therefore the country needs to use the wealth generated from the Chinese's urgent need for copper to transform Zambia and its economy so that it can continue to function, flourish and adapt once those natural resources are exhausted. The MMD was like the Biblical Esau, selling Zambia's birthright for a mess of pottage. Sata is saying no, what Zambia should get in return for this non-renewable resource should help Zambians unborn to have a better country even though the copper supply is exhausted, and also that the extraction of these resources should benefit Zambians today to the greatest extent possible. He wants China to treat Zambia as a partner, not a pawn. It's about time an African leader acted shrewdly on behalf of his entire nation, not just his privileged cronies or himself alone. As far as I can see, the Chinese seem willing to respect this attitude.

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