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Sunday, 15 May 2011

Are the Chinese in Zambia misunderstood?

Chinese companies operating in China have been criticized for poor labor conditions and bad pay. Controversy grew in October 2010 when two Chinese managers at a privately owned mine shot and wounded 11 Zambian miners after a dispute over working conditions. Charges against the two managers were dropped in April this year and the men were allowed to return to China.

Sautman argued that China’s socialist legacy means Chinese managers are more willing to pitch in with manual work when necessary. However, this willingness to “push wheelbarrows” has been misread by local opposition politicians who believe Chinese workers are taking Zambian jobs. This lack of division between Chinese engineers and African workers appeals to many miners who previously worked for Western companies as they enjoy the absence of the “white boss complex.”
Barry Sautman (Hong Kong academic) reckons that Chinese mining companies in Zambia do not deserve their negative reputation as their operations are no better or worse than Western companies. You can read the rest of the piece here.

1 comment:

  1. The internal inconsistencies in this argument are almost too many to count.
    By inference Africans are being patronizing told the burden is on them to understand Chinese culture, even on African soil. At the same time, despite complaints about Chinese pushing wheelbarrows, we're told Africans like the Chinese ways better than the "white boss complex." The authors have been locked in a defense of China at all costs mode like this for so long they don't even see the contradictions.

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