Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

Finally, an African President We Can Get Behind- Sata Calls Chinese ‘Infesters’

Posted by w_thames_the_d on August 19, 2014

Sign me up to vote for this guy…


JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Michael Sata, a former train-station sweeper dubbed the “King Cobra” for his sharp tongue, campaigned for Zambia’s presidency in 2006 on an anti-China platform.

He gained headlines by taking swipes at the Chinese, his country’s biggest foreign investor with $2 billion mainly in copper, cobalt, nickel and coal mines.

Sata referred to Chinese investors as “infesters.” He called for Chinese migrant workers to be expelled from Zambia. And he described Taiwan as a country, breaching Beijing’s obsessive “one China” policy, which considers Taiwan a rogue province rather than an independent nation. China threatened to cut ties with Zambia if Sata won.

It took five years, but Sata finally was elected as Zambia’s president this week on his fourth attempt, throwing a scare into Beijing and delivering a heavy blow to Chinese influence in Africa.

While Sata toned down his criticism of Beijing during this campaign, his anti-China reputation was already well-known in Zambia, where he defeated the pro-China incumbent, Rupiah Banda.

China responded to Banda’s defeat with the same pragmatism as it had toward the loss of friendly regimes in South Sudan and Libya: It tried to befriend the new boss.

“As a friendly country of Zambia, China respects the Zambian people’s choice and would like to work with Zambia to promote friendship and expand mutually beneficial cooperation across the board,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing.

But privately, the Chinese government must be worried. Sata has said he may implement capital controls aimed at keeping foreign-exchange earnings in Zambia, Africa’s biggest copper producer and a country that has seen strong economic growth averaging 6 percent over the last three years. Foreign-exchange controls would prevent Chinese companies from sending their profits home to China.



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