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Friday, September 24, 2021

Here is why HH has been invited to the White house by Biden

Columns Here is why HH has been invited to the White house by...

By Mwansa P. Chalwe snr

President Hakainde Hichilema has been invited for a meeting with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the White House while in the US attending the United Nations General Assembly. This is rather unprecedented for a newly elected African President, hardly a month in power.

During the same period, whilst in the United States, he will hold high level meetings with the International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Ms.Kristalina Georgieva, World Bank President Dr. David Malpass, World Bank President, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Mendez, and other high level meetings.

As Zambians, we should be proud of the White House invitation and the other high level meetings our President will hold because it shows the general recognition by the international community of the rare feat of the peaceful transfer power from an Incumbent to the Opposition that we have achieved for the third time in 30 years. However, care must be taken by not looking at these gestures from the superficial angle but rather recognize the underlying motivations. These are undoubtedly geopolitical and economic in overtones involved, and it is that context that the visit should be looked at also.

The United States of America has paid insufficient attention to the African continent at the highest levels of government in recent years. China has taken full advantage of this and emerged as an economic and political power house on the continent. In Africa, China’s growing economic influence is there for all to see. Beijing has mobilized its vast government financial resources and invested in infrastructure projects in exchange for natural resources. China has extracted multiple layers of benefits from these investments which include service contracts for Chinese firms, creation of jobs in China through raw material supplies for projects, creation of a market for Chinese finished goods, political favours from African governments on foreign policy issues at multilateral forums such as the United Nations, and a positive international image of China being a friend of Africa who provides aid with no strings attached. China’s approach to Africa has posed a challenge to U.S. interests in promoting democracy, good governance and sustainable development in Africa.

On taking over, the Biden administration recognized this increased Chinese influence in the World including Africa. And in response, they have enacted the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 and are resetting the US African Policy. The Strategic Competition law is designed to counter China’s growing influence around the world. It frames Beijing as a “political, diplomatic, economic, military and ideological power” and a strategic competitor to U.S. and its partners

The entire US government machinery has been uneasy about the Chinese influence in Africa and Zambia is no exception. President Biden outlined his concern about China’s influence in the World during his first press conference after being sworn in.

“I see stiff competition with China. China has an overall goal — and I don’t criticize them for the goal. But they have an overall goal to become the leading country, the wealthiest country in the world and the most powerful country in the world,” Biden said. “That’s not gonna happen on my watch,” he said.

He was supported by the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez, the Democrat of New Jersey, who described the Strategic Competition legislation as an unprecedented, bipartisan effort to mobilise all American strategic, economic, and diplomatic tools to enable the US government to compete effectively with China and the challenges it poses to its national and economic security for decades to come.

“China is strategic competition. China today is challenging the United States and international community across every dimension of power – political, diplomatic, economic, innovation, military, even cultural – and with an alternative and deeply disturbing model for global governance,” said Robert Menendez, and the committee’s chairman who is one of the people that President HH will have a meeting with.

In view of China’s success in Africa, there appears to be a growing realization in the U.S that Africa is more than conflict and poverty but it represents important opportunities in trade and investment.
The African American Congressman who has been concerned and very vocal about Chinese influence in Africa and wanted US to be more involved in the continent to counter China, is Congressman Gregory Meeks of the New York’s 5th District who is the Chairman of House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“The United States sees strengthening US-Africa economic ties as a priority. America’s capital markets, pension and investment funds, and financial institutions are leaders among their global peers, and are uniquely positioned to play a key role in meeting Africa’s capital needs. In our absence, African nations will continue to seek capital, assistance, and technology from those who do not share our values and priorities for democracy, good governance, human rights, and environmental protection. America has every economic, strategic, and national security reason to prioritize our relationships with Africa,” he said.

The World has seen the erosion of democracy and human rights in the past five years as autocratic leaders have been emboldened by the former President Trump’s administration and China. Zambia has been one of the countries whose democracy was under threat before the August 12, 2021 elections.

According to Varieties of Democracy Project based at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Zambia had been one of the fastest eroding democracies in the world. The country registered a remarkably rapid decline in the quality of democracy since 2016 until the PF lost this year’s elections.

It is common knowledge that the US has made the promotion of democracy and human rights as the number one foreign policy objective as part of its competition with China which supports Authoritarianism. In July, 2021 the Secretary of State Antony Blinken was reported by Politico to have issued a cable to all embassies to make the promotion of human rights and democracy a priority, even in countries with abusive governments that happen to be U.S. allies.

Zambia happens to be one of the closest countries to China in Africa. The Chinese influence in Zambia went up a few notches in the past ten years. The level of Chinese investment and debt has increased. There are more than 600 Chinese companies operating in Zambia employing about 50,000 locals. The Chinese population in Zambia was estimated at 80,000 in 2019, according to the UN World Population study.
The Chinese influence was also demonstrated by the Zambian government attempt to recruit Chinese Nationals in the Police service in 2017.And more recently, in 2020, the enforced apology of former Lusaka Mayor, Mile Sampa to the Chinese community for trying to make them abide by Zambian laws was further evidence how China held sway in Zambian affairs. These events and other events did not go down well with Zambians. The local cynics even nick named Zambia as “Chambia”. There are also some international analysts who have called Zambia as China’s poster Child in Africa. Although the issue of China did come up on the campaign trail, it was clearly there under the radar and in voters’ mind. There is no doubt that one contributing factor to the PF’s loss was its perceived capture by the Chinese.

It against this background of the geopolitical ecosystem obtaining currently, that the invitation of President Hakainde Hichilema should be seen. And in the light of Zambians’ successful removal of the Lungu dictatorship through democratic elections, and the peaceful transfer of power, the US saw this as part of its success in the promotion of democracy and human rights and its fight against authoritarianism. The US invitation of President Hakainde Hichilema to the White House, is therefore, in a nutshell, simply the implementation of the Strategic Competition Act of 2021 and the US Reset of African policy to counter Chinese influence.

President Hichilema has made good governance through the promotion of democracy and human rights, rule of law, fight against corruption and the freedom of the press as the centre piece of his administration. The President’s speeches since he was elected, have been well received in the democratic world and by the financial markets. Zambians are also feeling freer no longer in fear.
There is a word of caution, however, that the new dawn administration of HH should be aware of. It would be unwise to give the impression that Zambia is expressly taking sides between China and USA/West. Zambia should welcome the competition for influence between the United States of America and China as it can bring a lot of developmental benefits to the country. We should not choose one from the other as the two are complementary. Zambia ought to develop its own development model based on copying and adapting the good features from both models – Washington Consensus and the Beijing Consensus-to fit in its unique environment.

Although, it may appear as self-promotional, as a Patriot, I would be failing in duties to make certain timely recommendations to our President. I would edge President Hakainde Hichilema, Foreign Minister Stanley Kakubo, Special Assistant to President Antony Bwalya and other Senior government officials in the foreign service to read a few selected and relevant Chapters in my book: China-West battleground in Africa: Debt ridden Zambia, before they go to the United States.

The book will provide them with fast track knowledge on how to handle Zambia’s relationship with the current economic super powers – China and the USA- based on very current information as demonstrated by this article’s attributions. The book has been accepted to be catalogued in the United States Library of Congress, the largest library in the World with 170million publications. The library does not just stock any publication unless it is adding value to the body of knowledge that it currently has. It follows that the book’s credibility cannot be doubted.

The writer is a Chartered Accountant and Author. He is a retired international MSMEs Consultant and an independent financial commentator. He is also an Op-Ed Contributor to the Hong Kong based, Alibaba owned, and South China Morning Post (SCMP) .Contact: [email protected]

Most of the contents of this article are abridged excerpts from my book whose link is below.
CHINA-WEST BATTLEGROUND IN AFRICA: DEBT RIDDEN ZAMBIA: Why U.S. May Lose Geo-Economic Competition to China https://www.amazon.com/dp/B097DVXBKH/ref=cm_sw_r_wa_api_glt_7PR5H7YBZZ14FCDNT54Y

51 COMMENTS

  1. Read the first portion of the article, seems to put correct perspective into current happenings in Zambia-West(bazungus) relationship vs Zambia-China

  2. Is USA heaven where all aspire to end up one day. Is Joe Biden not just as human as me and a mortal like all of us? It’s time we become our own men instead of pandering either to the East or West. DRC has lost out for sixty years because of these two poles fighting for influence.

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    • You are free not to read it, but promoting or calling for people not to read it out rightly is worrying position. This is because knowledge is a matter of balancing that which one agrees with and the they do not agree with. Such positions only come post reading or being exposed to experience something.

  3. Well written and factual.

    HEHH is more inclined to the west than China by way of his private business life ….

    China’s investment in zambia and Africa as a whole is welcome but their support for dictators and corrupt regimes is abourent and locks countries into debt and poverty because tyrannical clueless regimes are supported while your wealth is siphoned to China ……..like the lungu regime.

    I support reset of western thinking and engagement with Africa…..

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  4. Nice article, not only for the current president to read through for highlights over economic affairs but other would be republican leaders in our nation too. Thanks for your advise to the president and genuine concern over our nation.

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  5. The only difference between USA and Zambia is that former is massively wealthy. Only a biased person will say their democracy is better than ours. Even now their former president is trying hard to overturn the results of their November elections. Not only that, many states are formulating laws that will make it difficult or even impossible for those who support the Democratic party. Some have already passed these laws. We far better than them. Yes we may have difficulties here and there but nobody has ever been impeded from casting their vote. We should be proud of our democracy.

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  6. This is a well written article. It is very balanced, well researched, a lot of current information on global geopolitics. No doubt, the author is a subject matter expert. And thanks for sharing and educating the nation.

    When all is said and done, the responsibility now lies on the shoulders of the HH administration to critically analyse the long term strategic objectives of both the Biden administration and the Chinese interests in Africa generally and Zambia in particular. These two bi-polar powers have at the core of their activities in Africa their own national interests. They want to secure global influence and consequently markets for their local companies. I do not blame them. Every responsible citizen wants the best for their countries.

    It follows that the HH Administration…

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  7. Why is this nigger still wearing white gloves? He looks like a clown. Can someone please pump some sense into his grey matter. He will stick out like a sore thumb in White House. Is still practicing Masonic rituals?

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  8. Our forefathers were very right from the end of colonialism to be non aligned. We need both the USA and CHINA. Like someone has put it already the problem with China is their silence on corruption perpetuated by despotic African Leaders – Lungu is an example. The USA is a hegemony that wants to perpetuate their World dominance may be too late. They do not really like us but are in love with our resources too.

  9. Good article indeed.
    Ultimately Government will choose who to deal with based on the merits and demerits.Certainly not business as usual.I would love to see JICA emerge and be prominent too ,as i think they offer as Japanese different perspective to how Business is done .
    This visit to US is certainly a game changer.I for one was fatigued by the Chinese ,time we looked else where and broadened Economic participants.
    I submit

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  10. Well balanced view. The recommendation to have our own strategy which could be used to moderate any engagement with foreign powers must not be ignored. It must actually be prioritised in order for us to forge ahead as a united one Zambia one nation one people.

  11. @ Tabakapite ba Kateka
    You ask Why STILL wearing gloves.
    That implies you were once supportive of the wearing of the gloves but now think its being overdone.

    Answer: The same reason he had to were them at the beginning.

    You say he looks like a clown? That’s your opinion.

    You also think he will stand out like a sore thumb in the White House

    1. Who is to say whether he will still wear gloves there?

    2. Nothing wrong with standing out

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  12. The U.S/West has always been nervous about other world powers having influence in Africa. Before it was fear of the Soviet Union spreading socialism on the African content. Now it is about stopping China’s influence. And don’t believe, even for a second, that America cares about Democracy Africa/Zambia and that is the reason why Biden is concerned about Chinese influence in Africa, no! Because if the U.S. had any principles in this regard, they wouldn’t be dealing with countries such as Saudi Arabia and other autocratic regimes around the world, including China itself. In fact, the U.S. does more business with China than any other country on earth. And that’s not including the colossal American debt held by China in form of Treasury Bonds. Yet America goes around the world telling…

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  13. Continue…

    other people/countries not to deal with China. This is hypocrisy of the highest order. So Zambia should be careful with the propaganda coming out of Washington.

    The unfortunately thing about all this is that the engagement with Africa by the West/America over the years has been, by far, more negative, destructive, and disruptive than anything China has ever done in Africa. Hopefully Africa, and Zambia in particular, has a long memory. Lest we forget geopolitical wars waged against the Soviet Union (Russia) on the continent in which Africans were simply collateral damage. After accomplishing the mission and the Soviet Union collapsed, America simply picked up and left abandoning us for new war adventures in other parts of the world….because that’s what America does. In…

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  14. Continue….

    In fact, in comparison, smaller and poorer countries such us Cuba had noble and good intentions for Africa than the U.S.A.

    Furthermore, while China helped countries like Zambia build different route to the sea when the Apartheid regime in S.A and the racist Smith regime in Rhodesia imposed sanctions on Zambia, America (the West) was busy supporting these two regimes. President Ronald Regan was secretly supplying Stinger Missiles to Savimbi/Rebels in Angola. Missiles used to shoot down Cuban migs battling the Apartheid S/African Army/Air Force preventing them from overrunning the Angolan Capitol. This is real history that African leaders, especially those from the SADC REGION should remember and be cognizant of when engaging with America, and the West in general. Like…

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  15. Continue….

    Like the article has ably pointed out, be very careful and circumspect of their sudden interest in Africa once more. Is this just another COLD WAR 2.0 against China? Or is this a genuine desire by the U.S to do real business with Africa/Zambia? These are the questions HH and his advisors should be asking and STUDYING carefully. Otherwise Zambia will just be a turf for Super Powers’ geopolitical wars once again. Let history be our guide and teacher as we engage in these renewed relationships before we waste more decades fighting other people’s geopolitical wars. To the Western world, Africa is good for one thing and one thing only, her NATURAL RESOURCES. Nothing else. Always remember that when you engage them!!!

  16. #s 15, 16 , 17 Yambayamba

    China has been involved in Africa for a long time and other parts of world with their development ……

    Name one country in Africa or the world that has come out richer with the help of China ????.

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  17. Tell me. How many Africans are quieing up to get Chinese citizenship? What rights have minorities in China? How many foreigners have become millionaires in China? China may look good to Africa but it has never taken refugees from Somalia, Ethiopia, DRC, Rwanda, Liberia etc. The US has. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of the Chinese are settling in Africa. 100,000 in South Africa, 80,000 in Zambia. 100,000 in Egypt to mention a few. At this rate, Africa will be Chinese in 50 years.

  18. @Spaka

    Name one country in Africa that has come out richer with the help of America????

    By the way, China’s engagement with Africa, and the rest of the world for that matter, has NEVER been imperialistic in nature, never! But you can’t say the same about the West, America included. Yes, you can talk about the Marshall Plan America undertook in Europe after WWII. But I am sure the reasons for that are clear…..and that was more on the side of AID or “help” has you put it. That’s in my comments I am talking about BUSINESS not “HELP”! China is in Africa to do BUSINESS not to lend aid or help. Is Africa up to speed to do business than asking for help. If not, whose fault is that? The Chinese?

    I surely hope HH is not coming to meet Joe Biden to ask for “help”. But to do…

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  19. Continue…

    @Spaka

    business and Trade deals better than those from the Chinese. That is what we should be talking about than “help.” Help for what?????

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  20. #20  Yambayamba 
    September 17, 2021 At 12:23 pm

    “Continue…

    @Spaka

    business and Trade deals better than those from the Chinese. That is what we should be talking about than “help.” Help for what?????…”

    But even if China enters into a business arrangement with poorer countries , China is the more powerful and their business should be guided by morals and responsible win win situations…….

    Very few if any poorer country has ever come out richer with China……

    As someone said above , I think we should lean more to the west than to China, but still work with them…….

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  21. Spaka you ask which country that has ties with China that has become rich? Libya had ties with China and because it had only one leadership it prospered. It prospered enough not to get loans from the IMF until USA got rid of that only leadership. Now Libya is like the rest of Africa.

  22. You can’t expect USA to engage in business with Zambia in the same scale as China does. I mean there won’t be those American small and medium businessmen coming set up factories here creating jobs for Zambians. Whilst HITECH giants are more interested in countries like Vietnam.
    In a globalizational point of view (though the concept of globalization is losing its popularity), the West sets the standards for human beings, defines all people’s needs. Less developed countries (like then China) manufactures products to meet those needs, and the rest of world just unconsciously self-learned and accepted those needs and consumes those products at the price of whatever resources they have.
    Thus the small and medium companies of USA they deal less with actual manufacturing than with design…

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  23. and advertisements. They have lost the ability to invest directly into manufactures. Even Trump failed to bring manufactures back to USA.
    Recently china thinks he is powerful enough and wants also to be the one to set standards, to define and design what humans need because that is the most profitable and the top position of the whole chain. Well on the capital side this might be true, the China government (rather than its nationals) has more than enough money to invest all over the world. But on the value side it has yet a long way to struggle and maybe to improve.
    So don’t complain you didn’t become richer out of the business with China, it’s not all the China’s fault, it’s because you are forced a lot of “needs” which are not basic. Compare this era to the traditional one,…

  24. This is a well thought out article because it is not politically inclined like the other article you wrote titled ‘ Why Zambia still needs IMF Bailout despite the SDR1.33 billion’. It did bring out a lot of negative reactions especially when you decided to bring in ECL in the picture and rubbished him. As a professional blogger, it looked like you where looking for a job in Upnd. I would like to thank you for sharing this rich information. But my point still stands, we will come out worse than we are if we think we can now drop our relationship with the East and create a new one with the West. For the West to genuinely work with us, they will demand we go back to the East first and re-negotiate restructuring of the debts we have with them, In the meantime , the same East will not be…

  25. # 22, 23  Maedive

    That might be true , but China will not let their employing industries leave the mainland……..industries like chitenge manufacture , even if we have all the materials in zambia

    The Chinese will only let gonga investors come and set up gonga factories

    However , the west would let manufacturing be done in zambia if we had the right skillets , it is up to zambia to unskill and bring in manufacturing

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  26. Now is the best time for zambia to upskill in order to attract manufacturing……..

    The west has realised that relying on China for all their manufacturing only emboldens them and makes them rich…..

    The west is actively looking to outsource manufacturing away from China with countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh getting in on the act ………

    What a better chance for HEHH to talk Biden into showing casing, zambia as an example , that the USA is serious about investing in Africa…..

    Why not ?

  27. Supporting China is a sheer waste of time and the reason is an aggregate of so many things like poor human right record, no democracy and too crooky in so many dealings etc. Nigeria is doing fine economically because they’re alot of American
    Companies. See how they treated Africans during the outbreak of CVID, it was nasty.

  28. Africa is a country(I know it’s a continent but you get my drift) that has come out richer with Chinese assistance. By the way, the same Americans have sold their bad debts to guess who…yes you got that one right. China. They can sell trillions of dollars of their debts to China but on the other hand they are telling you to be careful with Chinese traps?? We don’t need excuses with for this trip, the more you try to explain, the more we are getting suspicious with US tinkering with our elections. China has been an all weather friend to Zambia and let’s not forget that. We have a well equipped Chinese airforce in Zambia. The US wouldn’t even dare to supply us with boots for our Army but they would equip and train our enemies.

  29. #24
    The only possible manufacturing coming in from west are those giants, which makes items like cars and digital products and machines whose markets are globally based, and for this reason they look to not only skills, but also population scale and geographic location (whether having ports), that’s why these industries were once transferred to Japan, China and Vietnam. Zambia has no advantage in all these factors.
    And there is an issue of working ethics, in capital world there is no difference of East or West, capital only likes workers who work day and night with small salary. Behind the development of Japan and China, how many working class people worked overtime with little time to spend with their family? How many of them worked in big cities all the year and only go back to…

  30. to their hometown once a year to be with the family, I don’t say it’s good, I never liked it, but that is the way the capital or investors like, that is the way those countries once attracted Western investments.
    Industries of products for only local consuming, which are done by small and medium businessmen, but these simply won’t attract the westerners, in fact you rarely see an American setting a small factory in another country manufacturing things for local use, only private Indians and Chinese are interested in it. But these light industries should gradually been transferred to locals, Zambia govt should set laws forcing these foreign factories to be handed over to the hands of locals after certain years operation, for free or at a certain price. And for the Chinese companies,…

  31. panies, Zambian laws are very difficult to comprehend and very formulaic, govt should train a large number of people and make it mandatory for every Chinese company to employ at least one such “legal consultant”.
    Mineral resources is the only thing that may attract the Americans, if that happens, it can bring more money to Zambia govt, but it can’t solve the problem of large unemployment here.
    You can say conditions of Chinese companies are bad, but those gonga factories actually provided more jobs than you are told. Maybe only low class people can understand this.

  32. Americans are busy upsetting their close allies and the recent one being dodgy dealings which involved selling top secret nuclear technology to Australia to counter the threats from China in the Asia-pacific. Now if they can do this to their all weather friends Europe, what do you think they will do to us? We are playing with a deadly friend. I’ll rather we kept our distance.

  33. #28  Maedive

    What’s wrong with Nike, levi ……..moving some production to zambia ???

    Or Microsoft opening up a tech hub in zambia ???

    We all know the USA and the west want to counter China in Africa, ……..

    Now is the time to sell the dream to Biden and Co………

  34. #30 Maedive, you cannot put it better than you have done. I’ll add one thing. Instead of demonizing the Chinese, we should take time to learn from them… like why should someone travel thousands of miles to Zambia just to make concentrate blocks and what profit does he make from a business. Why can’t we do this ourselves, what is the secret behind their success from just selling maize cobs.

  35. I said it before, China’s human rights record is very poor compared to the West, look at Muslims how they are being maltreated on the pretext that they are being trained various skills and yet are prisoners being accused as terrorist without being tried, and most of whom are from Middle-East. They’re here in Zambia because of raw-material to create employment in China and not develop Africa, and that will never happen until pigs fly.

  36. #32 Spaka
    I think these brands fall into the same category that I talked about, though they are not hightech.
    Yes Zambia can try, but to achieve it you have to not only persuade the western politicians, but also the capitals behind these brands, and it comes back again to those factors of their concern
    There is competition, and capital cares not about politics unless compelled, some western investments, like some of the brands you named, retreated from China not because of politics, but because as China develops the labor force cost also increased, so they moved to countries with cheaper labor force like Vietnam. Zambia also has cheap labor force, but it also has some aspects which is not so charming to these brands.
    In the 80s and 90s, global investments flooded into china, from…

  37. from USA, from Europe, from Japan, from Taiwan, because capital seeks only profits and china was a perfect place for that purpose when it opened to the world. And the China central and local governments gave unimaginable privileges to these investors, they even gave them lands for free use to build factories, and lend them money from local banks. These created massive employment and changed china at a society level, villages were abandoned, coastal cities were crowded with workers from different parts of country, and these employees never protest against working conditions because china government does not like protests and there were no concept of human rights among them. It is not without a reason that China became “world factory”
    Note that Trump wanted to bring Apple production back…

  38. Note that Trump wanted to bring Apple production back to USA to create jobs for Americans, he simply failed.

    I don’t want to say it’s impossible, but the probability is small

  39. We all know that for us to partner with the USA we have to agree with gay rights hence the reason is there president Lungu refused this offer so will wait n see hence the reason he even removed the Religious minister

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