President Michael Sata on Saturday said he would welcome Chinese investors, promising to strengthen relations with Beijing, in a U-turn on his pre-election anti-China stance.
“When we were campaigning people were complaining about the Chinese and I promised that I will sort the Chinese out,” said Sata who hosted a luncheon for Beijing investors at the State House.
“They are also going to sort me out and so we are going to use them to develop,” he said.
Sata, who was elected in September is known for his tough stand against the influx of Chinese investment into the country, particularly in the mining sector, which he says does not benefit locals.
They are also going to sort me out and so we are going to use them to develop
He observed that although China with had a big population it was developing at a faster rate and wondered why Zambia with a small population is faced with so many developmental challenges.
He said China was developing because of ‘aggressiveness’ exhibited by the Chinese people in getting what they want for their country.
“Let’s give China proper specifications because what I know is that specifications have a back-up. China with a big population has got less constraints but developing so fast why because of aggressiveness by the Chinese people.”
“Zambia with a small population with 13 million people has huge constraints comparing with China with a bigger population. This should not be the case since China is at our disposal today,” President Sata said.
The President said he would utilize the Chinese Government in his first five-year tenure of Office so that Zambians largely benefit from their Chinese counterparts.
“The Chinese can do with one meal a day; use them properly and if you find there are more Chinese on one job, don’t blame the Chinese, blame the immigration officer who gave them work permits. Do they deserve those work permits?”, he asked
“Don’t blame the Chinese, blame yourself because the Chinese are willing to work, they are very hard working people,” he said. “The Chinese can do with one meal a day; use them properly and if you find there are more Chinese on one job, don’t blame the Chinese, blame the immigration officer who gave them work permits. Do they deserve those work permits?”, he asked
Mr. Sata said the Patriotic Front (PF) policy is not different from that of the China therefore the reason for sending Dr. Kaunda to re-new Zambia-China friendship which he said dates way back in the 1950s.
At the same event, Chinese Ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao disclosed that the volume of trade by Chinese companies stood at US $2.8 billion in 2010 while the total trade and investment with Zambia stood at US $ 5 billion respectively.
The Chinese Envoy further pledged to assist Zambia in various economic sectors such as agriculture, construction, health, technology, trade, science, schools, hydro-power sports stadium as well as the provision of grants and loans.
And Chairman of the Chinese Corporation of Zambia Shin Hu said the Chinese community has so far invested US $2 billion translating into over 30,000 jobs created for the local people.
Mr. Hu, who is also Chairman for Chinese Non- Ferrous Metal Corporation, appealed to the new Government to protect the Chinese investors in the country and further pledged to work with the Government of the day.
Chief Justice Ernest Sakala, Speaker of the National Assembly Dr. Patrick Matibini, Cabinet Minister and their deputies, former Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister in the Chiluba regime Dipak Patel, Zambia and Chinese senior government and China Communist Party Committee and PF senior party officials were among the people that attended the luncheon at State House.