Zambia president does China U-turn

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.
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