Debate: Is The Zambian Presidential Election The Beginning Of Anti-China Sentiment in Africa?

In 2006, China threatened to pull all its investments out of Zambia and cut diplomatic ties if Michael Sata were elected president. Now in 2011, after four tries Mr. Sata is now Zambia’s new president. And, he’s causing Chinese fur to fly.

Given China’s vast and varied interests in Africa, Mr. Sata’s election begs the question of whether or not this is the beginning of an anti-Chinese movement in Africa at large.

Here are five reports that describe the Zambian election and also put it into the larger African context.

West’s Zambian election coverage shows anti-China bias | People’s Daily

Michael Sata, a leader of the Zambian opposition party, finally won the recent Zambian presidential election after running four times. The presidential election has attracted particular “attention” from Western media agencies because of Sata’s “view of China.”  Sata was labeled by Western media as an “anti-China force in Africa” for his criticism of China in 2006, so that the election was dubbed as “the fate of the war” for Chinese investors.

China’s Investment in Zambia | PRI

By Mary Kay Magistad China’s investment in Africa is vast and growing. In Zambia, it has cropped up as a campaign issue. The newly elected President Michael Sata was once so critical of China’s approach to investment in Zambia that the Chinese government threatened to pull out its investments if he were ever elected.

In Africa, an Election Reveals Skepticism of Chinese Involvement | The Atlantic

By Howard W. French  ▶ Zambians have voted out president seen as closely aligned with China, which has sent thousands of workers and managers here and to other Sub-Saharan countries. On the eve of Zambia’s presidential elections last week, one of the most common tropes about the vote was to describe it as a referendum on China. For a long time now, Zambia has been at the leading edge of China’s drive to expand its relations with the continent. Chinese have migrated to Zambia by the thousands, setting themselves up in mining, farming, commerce and small industry.

China in Zambia: Jobs or exploitation? | BBC

By Mutuna Chanda ▶ Zambian miners at the Collum Coal Mine are furious with their Chinese bosses — At least 11 miners were allegedly shot by two Chinese managers during a protest about poor conditions in October.The long road leading up to the mine in the southern rural district of Sinazongwe is covered in black coal dust, but otherwise there is not a hint that the 21st Century has reached the area.And this is what has angered the miners.

Around the Halls: African Elections | Brookings Institute

By Mwangi S. Kimenyi, Senior Fellow, Director, Africa Growth Initiative and Nelipher Moyo, Research Analyst  ▶ Zambian Elections: The Growing Importance of China — Mr. Sata has previously spoken out against China’s ‘exploitation’ of Zambia’s minerals and its poor labor practices. During the 2006 elections, China’s ambassador to Zambia threatened to cut diplomatic ties with Zambia if Sata was elected president.


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