China-Zambia Relationship: Good Friendship Soiled by Corruption

“Zambians are content with little things. They are not as ambitious as us.” Yaochi Huang

A Chinese investor Yaochi Huang has triggered a discussion after a video clip was shared on social media together with an article by News Diggers saying Zambians were not ambitious and were content with little things. Huang is heard speaking in Chinese. In the same clip another pair of Chinese are heard saying some Zambians considered them to be God-sent to save.
Experts have come out to condemn the utterances whilst others found the speech to be the reflection of Chinese perception towards Africans.
Speaking to iAfrica24, Mr Aaron Ng’ambi, a Zambian Political analyst said it was very demeaning of Mr Huang to speak such of a people they are exploiting. While emphasising that he was not against investments by Chinese in Zambia, he pointed out that some of them had no regard for labour laws and because of corruption, they were not brought to accountability. He noted neo-exploitation by China as the problem and that he was not singling out individuals from China but the influence of the country as a whole.
Huang was also qouted saying he wished the current leadership could win the upcoming Zambian general elections as he feared that new government might bring new policies that may disturb their operations. Commenting on this, Mr Ng’ambi said Huang knows the deals he is in with the current leadership so he is skeptical about change of government. He said Mr Huang had the audecity to laugh at Zambians yet most of them were looting resources in the guise of win-win cooperation with the aid of corrupt government officials.
Yaochi Huang came to Zambia as an employee of Wonderful Company, which was established in 2008. Wonderful later became a group of companies specialising in ceilings, recycled waste and then ventured into construction. It’s reported in 2016, it created a subsidiary called Marcopolo Tiles, which had only two shareholders.
In 2018, Marcopolo Tiles had become a major venture eliciting the President and the Chinese Ambassador to Zambia at its launch. Major infrastructure was constructed, including a police station fitted with new vehicles, a school and a clinic. The government was accused of investing millions of dollars through public institutions to this company which was not publicly listed.
Like Huang, most investors cut deals with higher authorities hence their businesses are protected even in the wake of worker grievances.
Commenting on whether Chinese investors provide employment to locals, Mr Ng’ambi argued that it was an inaccurate picture they were putting out. In most cases Chinese investors import labour from their country and give mediocre jobs to locals with negligible wages. Poor working conditions especially health and safety regulations, which include regular 12-hour and even 18-hour shifts involving hard labour and no medical insurance. The Zambian government fails to protect its people from exploitation by Chinese because of corrupt involvements.

Mr Ng’ambi was however, clear that China and Zambia relationship dated back to 1964 and was once a genuine friendship before the new generation took over. He spoke of the Tazara project which to date is still serving the people of Zambia and Tanzania and Africa at large. He pointed out the friendship forged by the now late Zambian founding father Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Chairman Mao Zedong has been spoilt by corruption and exploiting nature of the new heads.
Sino-Zambia relationship is one of the most criticized in Africa after Zambia was reported to be the first African state to default on its international debt payments with the bulk of it Involving China.
One Zambian netizen wrote of Yaochi Huang’s statement:This is no ordinary man that worked hard and was not content with little things. This is someone who understood the weaknesses of our systems and exploited them. This is a person who worked the carnal senses of the people that open doors to the decision makers. It is folly that someone that has failed to provide evidence on the full operations of his novel empire can soon speak to Zambians about how unambitious they are.

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