In Zambia, follow the money. Chinese investment rises; the treatment of abusive Chinese employers in Zambia is tolerated. The relationship is logical, if not moral.
The government of China has made Zambia a high priority. While Chinese investment with Africa, and socioeconomic engagement with Africans, is growing rapidly, no country in the sub-Saharan has captivated official China as comprehensively as southern Africa’s most stable nation. China owns rights to copper, many large farms and even a growing class of small merchants and shop-keepers. So the government Zambia faced an especially difficult problem when last October managers of a Chinese-owned mined fired guns on protesting Zambian miners, injuring 11.
The government, which first wanted to try the Chinese managers for attempted murder, has now dropped the charges. Zambians wants to know why, and whether bribes were paid in order to obtain the exoneration of the Chinese managers.
China’s investment in Africa is welcome. I have written elsewhere that Chinese technical skills, investment capital and business energy are needed in the region. But Chinese support for capital formation, technological enhancement and economic growth need not come at the expense of rule of law and basic human decency.