Chinese people in Zambia

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Chinese people in Zambia
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Related ethnic groups
Overseas Chinese

In recent decades, the population of Chinese people in Zambia has rapidly increased. Contrary to existing reports, particularly in Western media, which claim there are around 80,000 Chinese living in Zambia, actual numbers are closer to 15,000.


Trade relations took off in the 2000s with the amount of trade growing from $100m in 2000 to $2.8 billion in 2010.[1] Among Chinese businesses are large enterprises in mining and infrastructure, but also small businesses. A family of Chinese chicken farmers who established a farm in Zambia was profiled for BBC News program From Our Correspondent: "It sounds extraordinary but these Chinese businessmen and women spotted an opportunity to make a bit of money raising chickens on small farms in Zambia. They upped sticks and travelled 11,000km (7,000 miles) from their homes to do just that."[2] Agriculture, in fact, is one of the many sectors which are attracting both Chinese investors and migrant labourers.


Zambia is a leading exporter of copper and Chinese investment in the mining sector has been considerable. Over $1 billion was invested in 2010 with the promise of $5 billion in additional investment.[3] Labor tension between Chinese mine owners and Zambian workers has been rife. In February 2010 a Chinese mine manager was murdered by a Zambian worker.[4]

An explosives factory at the site of a mine in Chambishi exploded in 2005, killing over 50.[5] The incident raised the level of discontent in the region towards Chinese mining owners and in 2007, Hu Jintao on an 8 nation tour of Africa although scheduled to appear at the Chambishi copper mine canceled the trip when there was news of a planned protest by miners.[6]


The September 2011 presidential election was dominated by the issue of Chinese investment and people arriving in Zambia.[7] Michael Sata in the Zambian general election, 2006 as opposition presidential candidate had accused China of exploiting the country and turning it into a "dumping ground."[8] Following his loss, in his stronghold of Lusaka, the capitol, rioting broke out against Chinese businesses.[9]


The largest aid project ever undertaken by China was the TAZARA Railway built from 1970–1975, connecting the copper mines of Zambia to the seaport of Tanzania.[10]


A Bank of China branch in Lusaka allows account holders to deposit money in Yuan without having to go through foreign exchange, the first branch in Africa to offer such currency services.[11]

See also[edit]