Saturday (June 6th): Local Sentiments vs. Global Business — A 21st century dilemma

Miles Sampa

Name? Miles Sampa

Westphalian identity? Zambian

Age? 49

Why is he in the news? Several weeks ago it was discovered in Lusaka, Zambia that three Zambian men entered a Chinese-owned textile factory and murdered two employees as well as their boss. The factory was then burnt down. In the days preceding the murders and fire, Sampa, mayor of Lusaka, had accused Chinese bosses of “slavery reloaded.” Moreover, Sampa used the derogatory term ‘Chinaman’ and blamed China for the Coronavirus. 

Why do we care? Chinese businesses spreading throughout the developing world have been a vital facet to the country’s global influence and the African continent’s economic development. However, events like the one in Lusaka, on top of Sampa’s rhetoric, are telling of the sentiments surrounding Chinese business in Zambia, and potentially across the continent. 

Why should you care? The business, investment, and infrastructure growth that has projected Africa to be a formidable economic force in the future could change course, away from the Chinese; precipitating international implications for China, Zambia and others.   

Who else cares? If cases such as the one in Lusaka continue to emerge, Chinese business owners might be largely dissuaded to continue their investment into Zambia as well as surrounding nations, significantly impacting the economy of the region. 

Any further comments? China is Zambia’s largest exporting partner, meaning souring relations with China could have enormously negative effects on their economy. In this regard, Mayor Sampa stoking anti-Chinese sentiments is not doing his country any favors. That said, the Chinese are infamous for their numerous labour violations, often similar to those which prompted Sampa to make his statements. Zambian concerns are that China holds too much power in their country, a sentiment many developing countries share. This could prompt Zambia to look elsewhere for investors and diversify their trading partners.