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West's Zambian election coverage shows anti-China bias

By Li Wentao (People's Daily)

15:27, September 30, 2011

Edited and Translated by People's Daily Online

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.

Some Westerners view Sata's success in the presidential election as a type of "backlash" against investments from China and believe that the pursuit of "equality" has overweighed the pursuit of "high-speed development."

The investments from China have just made great contributions to Zambia’s economic development. Zambia has maintained an average annual economic growth rate of up to 6 percent over recent years.

When the international financial crisis in 2008 spread across the world and resulted in a slump in raw material prices, Zambia faced severe challenges. Despite the withdraw of Western enterprises and capital from Zambia, China put forward the policy of "no withdrawal of investments, no shutdown and no downsizing," because of its firm confidence in Zambia's future economic development and has helped the Zambian economy to achieve a "soft landing."

The African people, rather than the West, should evaluate China's image in Africa. A Zambian scholar said that the Chinese people have no intentions of establishing democracy or spreading religion and are not guilty of past colonization there. Many African people love the Chinese people because the latter have built highways and gymnasiums and created job opportunities in Africa. Those are the genuine signs of progress that the West has promised, yet failed, to give the African people over the past four decades.

Historically, after the West refused to build a railway in Zambia in 1967, the Chinese government built the TAZARA Railway that has not only provided mineral transportation with the access to a seaport but also indirectly contributed to the anti-colonist, anti-imperialist and anti-racist movements of the then “forefront” countries. The Benguela railway from Zambia to Angola is of significance to Zambia as the country’s second route to a seaport and was also invested in and built by the Chinese side.

Most African leaders have an objective view of China-Africa relations. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chanted the so-called China threat theory during her visit to Zambia this year, but was immediately contradicted by the then Zambian President Rupiah Banda. Even the newly elected President Sata is developing a new understanding of China and now welcomes Chinese investments. This forms a sharp contrast with Western countries' ignorance of China's contributions and their biased interpretation of China-Africa relations.

Along with the increasingly close trade ties and frequent exchanges between China and Africa, some problems concerning trade competition and product quality have arisen for two reasons. First, the industrial structures of China and African countries have a lot in common, which results in hi competition between both sides.

China has a relatively complete industrial chain ranging from low-end to high-end industries. Many of China’s mature, competitive industries are sunrise industries in Africa, which is bound to spark trade friction.

Second, the Chinese and African people both lack understanding of each other's values. China has greatly expanded investments in Africa since the mid-1990s, and Chinese businesspeople have not gained a clear understanding of the African people's values and corporate culture in less than 20 years. The traditional Chinese principle of enduring hardship and working hard usually conflicts with the Africans’ happy-go-lucky attitudes. Instead of being afraid of these problems, China and Africa should face up to the problems and conduct sincere cooperation to properly solve them.

A balanced industrial structure will be crucial to Africa's sustainable development, and it requires the joint efforts of major powers to help the continent create such a balanced structure. Western powers, which are experienced and have adequate human, material and financial resources, should curb their arrogance, abandon their zero-sum game mentality, and work with other countries to help Africa achieve sustainable development.


Leave your comment1 comments

  1. Name

Jeter Cooper at 2011-09-3024.64.250.*
Yes China"s contribution to Zambia can not be ignored. But does it make sense for china to bring its own labor when building roads. Thats the problem!

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