The Government has barred the main opposition party from attending ceremonies marking the visit of Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, because of its anti-China stance.

Zambia has witnessed some of Africa’s most public expressions of unease over China’s growing power, most notably when workers at a Chinese-owned mine rioted over pay.

Vernon Mwaanga, the chief government spokesman, told reporters from state media that the Patriotic Front was the only opposition party not invited to meetings between Hu and Levy Mwanawasa, the Zambian president.

The Patriotic Front has accused the government of selling out to Beijing.

“We have invited opposition party leaders to attend public functions like the state banquet for the Chinese president,” Mwaanga said.

“But … we have not invited any leader of the Patriotic Front because they do not recognise the Chinese people.”

Bilateral ties

Hu, who arrived on Saturday, faces a delicate task in copper-rich Zambia because of widespread local feeling that China is attempting to dominate and ‘colonise’ the local economy.

Zambian officials however said Hu’s visit will spur trade and foreign investment and make Zambia a hub for China’s economic expansion on the world’s poorest continent.

Ng’andu Magande, the finance minister, said that Zambia aimed to strengthen its bilateral ties with China in order to learn from the Asian country’s success in boosting its once-moribund economy.

“The most important thing for us is that China is the fastest growing economy and we are also growing. These relations will help us to find winning ways because China was an [economic] underdog just a few years ago, but they are now performing well,” Magande said.

China did not respond to the opposition’s claims.

“I’m sure that this visit will serve to take China-Zambia relations to a higher level,” Hu said in a statement.
‘Colonise Africa’

Hu and Mwanawasa were due to hold private talks later on Saturday and will then issue a joint communique.

The government has said journalists would not be allowed to ask questions during a joint news conference by Hu and Mwanawasa on Sunday after the two leaders sign trade and economic co-operation agreements.

The Patriotic Front, which narrowly lost elections last year after running on an openly anti-China platform, criticised Hu’s visit.

Guy Scott, Patriotic Front general secretary, said: “They are out to colonise Africa economically and also to get Africa’s solidarity at the United Nations.”

Hu’s trip to Zambia dropped a planned stop in the Copperbelt region, apparently out of fears he might be targeted by protesting families of workers who died in a 2005 explosion at a Chinese-owned mine.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Zambian Democracy when will it mature.

    It’s really dissappointing to hear of the MMD and its government barring PF members from attending the ceremony for the visiting Chinese president, currently visiting Zambia. When are the old utopian politics of hatred going to end. I feel its high time politicians started respecting other people’s opinions in as far as political policies are concerned. This could have been a good opportunity for the MMD president to have convinced the PF as to why they want their foreign policy to be so much China inclined. Shame!! MMD and its government for loosing a time where we as Zambians could have seen you to be reconciling the nation and forging ahead with development, but you have lost it. You are hypocrits…..

    Those who follow American politics will agree with me that many even within the ruling Republican party in the US may differ in opinion over the Iraq issue, but still sit around the same table and eat together. But how many of such times have we seen such kind of tolerance happening in our Zambian politics, not in my life time…Shame on you politicians. Please change and start respecting other people’s opinions, other you are sitting on the time bomb of your own making. Don’t say you were not fore warned.

    Mutale – DRC

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  2. Zambians are surely being taken for granted by the chines. What is more dishearting is that the people charged to govern us are too busy boot-licking that they have lost sight of what is truely happening to the ordinary Zambian. Its a situation of fatel attraction. Hundreds of people are loosing a means to live as china slowly but aggresively takes hold of Zambia’s economic super-structure. China has the cheapest labour in the whole world due to its huge population. It can thus produce goods cheaper and land them in Zambia at three times cheaper than goods produced in Zambia.Cheap shirts, shoes, belts etc for hundreds jobs. What a trade-off. The textile business, contruction, agriculture and trading are being wrestled away from the local people. China is not providing foriegn direct Investment, but rather creating jobs for its large populations. It is thus sad that the Mwanawaswa government does not want to wake up and smell the coffee. China is killing us and the opposition have it spot-on. Its time to listern to the concerns of the people who put Mwanawasa team in power.

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