China figures out this democracy thing:
“What is weird is that I got two pay slips,” Mwaba tells the Monitor. “It looks like the Chinese had prepared for any outcome of the election by printing two pay slips for us for the month of September. If the incumbent Movement for Multi party Democracy MMD had won the presidential election, we would have been paid old meager salaries. But we got almost double the money because the opposition Patriotic Front led by Michael Sata won the election.”
As the largest copper producing country in Africa – some $2 billion worth by the end of 2010 – Zambia is more than just another landlocked African country to the People’s Republic of China, a country whose ongoing economic expansion have made it the world’s largest copper consumer. Sata’s victory has been seen by many as a sign of growing disaffection among Zambian voters who felt that Zambia was not getting a fair share of the mineral deals signed by previous Zambian governments. Some business leaders here fretted that Sata’s rhetoric might scare off foreign investment. But for now, the general mood is one of rapprochement, with Sata voicing moderation and Chinese investors promising good corporate behavior.
That's really good news. I never supported the argument that China in Africa was a matter of neo-imperialism on the grounds that African governments have a huge amount of agency in relation to the rewards Chinese investment offers their peoples. The bottom linbe is that China needs the copper and has to accept the terms on which it gets it.
And credit to Beijing. It didn't buy both sides. It didn't offer military support to the incumbent government to promote a 'stable business environment'. It didn't threaten or bluster. It respected the decision of the Zambian people. And its companies took the hit, though I'm sure they'll be passing it on.