Louise Redvers writes in The Mail & Guardian, a Zambian newspaper:
The first thing you see when you step off the plane at Lusaka International Airport is a giant billboard advertising the Bank of China.
“Welcome to Zambia,” it says, almost like an explorer’s flag at the North Pole marking his territory; the modern equivalent, some might argue, of the European colonialists.
Although Zambia is nowhere near China’s biggest African partner, the country’s relationship with the Asian investor is growing rapidly.
Trade exchanges rose from $100-million in 2000 to $1.45-billion in 2009, doubling last year to a whopping $2.8-billion.
In July, China’s Sinohydro began work on a $2-billion hydro plant, courtesy of financing from the China Development Bank. Last month the Lusaka branch of the Bank of China became the first in Africa to offer renminbi banking services, which means you can now make deposits in the Chinese “people’s currency” and even withdraw yuan (a unit of the renminbi) from the tellers.
Despite a booming economy which the ruling party hopes will put it back in power at the next elections, there are deep-seated concerns about the secrecy that shrouds dealings between the Zambian government and Chinese investors, labour unrest at Chinese-owned mines, and local factories shutting down because they cannot compete with the cheaper Chinese imports. Read more here.