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Thursday, 1 February 2007

The peasant girl with a rich lover

After reading about the latest economic deal Zambia has signed with China, it’s clear that this partnership is here to stay. I cannot see how any future Zambia leader no matter how opposed he/she may be to China’s practices will be able to reverse the current arrangements that are being put in place between the current Government and China.

Simply put, we’ve already entered a situation where China has now raised the cost of Zambia reneging on her in the future. $800m is a lot of money, not to mention the money already China has pumped into the economy.

Zambia is ever increasingly becoming reliant on China. And to make it worse or better (depending on which side of the political spectrum you belong to), the current Government will keep pressing on for a deeper relationship with China. So we are indeed a poor peasant girl stuck with a rich lover with many wives, because China indeed has many wives and many children too! The growth between China and Africa has continued to rise - and not all the money is coming to the peasant girl, and indeed questions remain on whether China's current growth is sustainable.

Zambians must recognise this fact and seek to address the next question – where to next? We cannot end the relationship, because with every gift we receive, we dig ourselves deeper into the hole. With that in mind, it becomes pointless for us to sit down and waste time analysing whether Mr Hu really loves us or whether he really cares about the peasant worker in a Chambishi area without medical insurance working in one of the Chinese firms.

At the core China is a rational economic agent seeking to maximise its own gains from this unequal of relationships.

What should really concern us now is simple: How can the peasant girl Zambia get along better with the rich lover that is China? She has done well so far using her limited resources of copper to keep this rich lover, but how far before the lover becomes abuseful, and starts exerting more control? Unfortunately, this is the difficult question our Government has now created, but has not yet been answered. Surely, Government owes it the people to do so, and to demonstrate that there's indeed in all her economic policies towards China, a Plan B. For now we live in fear of the day the lover becomes abuseful.


  1. Interesting assessment!
    The Government needs to wise-up, it is quite obvious that we stand at a disadvantage.

  2. The African question once again!Most developed countries enter into unequal partnerships fully understanding the pros and cons,but then seeking to exploit through whatever means the little they make from the partnerships.Probably, some even exploiting the short end(cons side) of the bargain.

    The mature debate is surely to ask and explore how the educated peoples in Zambia and abroad can exploit this partnership to better Zambia.

    It is virtually pointless and hot air for the government(worse still an African one)to consult an uneducated population on complex economic issues as this.The duty falls squarely on the shoulders of the educated Zambian whether living locally or abroad to bring the debate,partnership and wealth to the uneducated and poor masses.

  3. Cho, this is brilliant. Its time we upgraded our forum from simple emails to something like this....BRILLIANT STUFF

  4. It begs me to ask a question wether Zambia she is jumping from a frying pan of economic fish and chips into a chinese kitchen fire? From where I am standing this deal or rather 'economic partnership' with China smells like a greasy chinese meal always enticing and tasty but loaded with saturated fat. Again, there is that possibility that this rich lover has nothing but right intentions.. but the trend of abuse and exploitation by rich lovers indicates otherwise. I am being sceptical here, maybe sticking to western lovers is better than an eastern romance.

  5. This is my first time visiting this blog. Interesting materials posted. I especially accolade the analogy you used to refer to the relationship between China and Zambia. I think it is a marriage of convenience lets see who dumps who first.

  6. African Liz,

    My cards are on the richer husband getting a wife elsewhere after he has enjoyed all....

    It would be too costly for Zambia to abandon China especially since China is feeling the "fiscal space" following the debt cancellation with more loans to us.

    I do hope we don't simply move from owing the World Bank to owing the Chinese.


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