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Zambia-China Relations: Where does Economic Diplomacy fit in?

Yohane Mbeeya Moono
The Author is An Alumni of the Zambia Institute of Diplomacy and International Studies

Zambia got her independence in October of 1964 and was heavily reliant on the South African seaports for exports and imports. Things were to change barely a year after independence when Ian Smith the leader in Southern Ŕhodesia (present day Zimbabwe) declared the Unilateral Declaration of Independence which also saw the closure of ports of entry and exit with Zambia. 1965 proved a turning point for the new Zambian government foreign policy.

At the United Nations, Zambia were the motion movers for the reinstating of China to the United Nations family and the country became a member of Non-Aligned Movement in the aforementioned year. This was in a bid for the country to have Bilateral Ties with a number of countries for the economic benefit of a fledgling nation.

President Kenneth Kaunda together with his Tanzanian counterpart drifted to China as part of their foreign policies to develop their countries. This culminated in the construction of the Tanzania Zambia Railways (TAZARA), Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (TAZAMA), MILTEZ training centre, The Zambia China Mulungushi Textiles among other important economic buildings. Since then the Zambia China Relations have kept blossoming. Apart from, a number of Zambians were sent to China for specialized trainings in various sectors. President Kenneth Kaunda’s admiration for the leadership skills of Chairman Mao adopted a Communism Ideology similar to what China has. Kenneth Kaunda as part of the home policy implemented the Humanism Philosophy which centered on Human beings being the major resource the natio had and National resources were meant for all citizens. This was highly influenced by the Chinese Communism implemented by Chairman Mao who began the journey of China’s economic transformation.

During the Chiluba Administration the country saw a reduction in the number of Zambia China Bilateral engagements. However, when the New Deal Administration of Levy Patrick Mwanawasa came to power in the early 2000s, the Zambia China Bilateral Ties were seriously reignited. Thus saw the penetration of Chinese firms into the Mining Sector which is the biggest Gross Domestic Product value contributor to the Zambian economy. Among other noted projects that these Bilateral Ties brought was the Muliashi Mine in Luanshya and the Non-Ferrous Africa Metals in Chambishi. The two countries further agreed on the establishment of the Economic Zones with Chambishi Zambia-China Multi-facility Economic Zone and the Lusaka-East Multi-facility Economic Zone coming up. Then Chinese President Hu Jin Tao visited Zambia in 2005, a hallmark of the strengthening of the Zambia-China Ties. The Bilateral led to the construction of the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola and the Heroes National Stadium in Lusaka. The two are state of the Art Stadia.

President Rupiah Bwezani Banda through the Bilateral Ties with China was able to procure Mobile Hospitals which were aimed at taking Healthcare to the doorsteps of the people of Zambia.
In 2011, the Zambian people unanimously rose to change government from the Movement for Multi-party Democracy to the Patriotic Front led government of Michael Chilufya Sata. While in opposition, Michael Chilufya Sata was a fierce critic of Chinese investment in Zambia but upon assuming the Presidency, he was quick to brand China as an “All Weather Friend” a signal of the blossoming Bilateral Ties between the two countries. Even after his death, China become even more important as an economic partner during the reign of President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. The Chinese gave was ever present in the infrastructural development agenda championed under President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. To this day, China remains the largest single sovereign creditor Zambia.

Where Does Economic Diplomacy fit in?

Economic diplomacy means building international coalitions to help countries recover from financial crises. It entails convincing host-government leaders to apply the policies and measures most likely to strengthen their economies and provide jobs for their people, even if the reforms have political costs.

The New Dawn Administration has centered its foreign policy on economic diplomacy in the wake of the burgeoning foreign debt. With China being the largest sole sovereign creditor Zambia has and the willingness by the Chinese government to co-chair the Paris Club meetings of the G20 Common Framework for Debt Servicing means that the long held Zambia China Relations comes in handy together with the Economic Diplomacy implored by the New Dawn Administration.

Secondly this move alone allays fears that the New Dawn Administration has abandoned the long standing Zambia-China Relations in order to secure the IMF bailout package for Debt Restructuring purposes. The two countries have continued to interface at various levels of Bilateral engagements which is a positive sign for the economic development of Zambia a country almost in debt distress.

Therefore, it is prudent to say that the Economic Diplomacy implored by the New Dawn Administration and just like other governments before, is surely pay dividends and assures the public that the long g standing Zambia-China Relations shall continue to blossom to unprecedented levels. Economic Diplomacy is surely one size fits all for the Zambia agenda of economic transformation.

Economic Diplomacy together improved fiscal discipline should catapult Zambia to Economic Transformation.

Published by MyWritings

A Writer, A Diplomat in Waiting, Climate Change Advocate and a Football Administrator

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