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Habazooka Puts Chinese Reflections on Global Platform

Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) President Lubinda Habazooka’s thoughts on Chinese investments in Zambia was Bloomberg News Business’s Editorial pick.

We reproduce the article below given the unrelenting discourse around China and its investments:

Only 12 months ago, discussions on China centered around steel, a ballooning real estate bubble, and investment screening in Europe. Despite these issues still being unresolved, international scrutiny has pivoted to Western concerns over Chinese investment in Africa.

Much of this scrutiny has been a consequence of increased interest in Africa in general, including its resources, its use of technology and the trade opportunities it presents. This increased interest and engagement by both the EU and America is of course welcomed. We wish to build stronger partnerships in a broad and in-depth range of mutual interest. However, analysis toward Chinese investment in countries like my own—Zambia—has been perplexing in its simplicity.

 

It seems as though criticism of Chinese investment in Africa has been a consequence of little reflection upon the depth of investment and influence of Chinese investment in Western economies. China’s engagement in Africa is a natural expansion of its global investment strategy of the past 10 years under its Belt and Road initiative.

 

Over the last decade, private and state-owned Chinese firms have acquired stakes in eight maritime ports in Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain. Hungary, Serbia, and China signed a trilateral plan to build a new railway line, financed with loans from the Export-Import Bank of China. Chinese direct investment in the eurozone was up 37 percent in 2015. That same year China also invested $15 billion in the U.S., with $5.4 billion of that in New York alone.

 

Almost half of all China’s global investments have been in the energy sector, such as Hinkley point in the U.K. Chinese investment has only increased in the U.K. since Britain announced it was leaving the EU. China has been very honest in that it wants to invest over 100 billion pounds in U.K. infrastructure by 2025.

 

 

It is, therefore, patronizing to act as though Zambia is either victim or reckless in allowing Chinese investment. Zambia’s investment strategies mirror that of any other country in the West. In the absence of IMF financial backing, and the retraction of development assistance from the U.K., Zambia has made a strategic decision, that in order to secure a stable economy that provides world class services and infrastructure, we are going to have the Chinese invest in our nation. We were not tricked into this.

 

To suggest that Zambia is unknowingly being placed in a power struggle between the West and China, unaware of any future implications, is to impose the same old patronizing imperialistic view, that we are somehow not in control of our own destiny.

 

The message from Zambia to the West has been loud and clear for years. We want your investment — we want to be diplomatic and competitive trading partners with like-minded nations. That is why we have always strongly welcomed investment from the U.S., Japan, Canada, the U.K., Germany and Italy and many other countries.

 

Knowingly engaging in an economic partnership with China does not mean that we are “veering toward a Chinese model of repression.” Far from it, we are using these infrastructural developments to broaden our global horizons, and to attract the widest possible pool of countries and businesses, in order to create a free, egalitarian, and liberal trading nation.

 

So here are the facts, our debt to China is $3.1 billion. Our stock of external debt during the third quarter of 2018 was $9.51 billion, a figure below the internationally agreed threshold of 40 percent. We have never defaulted on our international debt payments. Zambia has not offered any state-owned enterprise to any lender as collateral for any borrowing, nor does it ever have plans to do so.

 

The Government’s goal is to improve the lives and standard of living for Zambian citizens, to provide them with industry, jobs, hospitals, roads, and build the foundations of an economy that will thrive for a generation. China builds projects on time and offers up the capital to achieve this. It really is that simple.

 

If Europe and America seek to have more skin in the game when it comes to their future geopolitical influence in Africa, then invest, lower trade tariffs, and help us build infrastructure by encouraging your businesses to invest. The ball, as they say, is firmly in their court.

 

Dr. Lubinda Haabazoka,

President of the Economics Association of Zambia

Jan. 14, 2019

15 Comments

  1. Sj

    Much as Development is needed in the country and probably these Chinese loans are easier to negotiate the Country should not be treated to development of INFRASTRACTURE built by Chinese that falls apart. A case in mind is the falling apart of Bridges Built by Chinese.
    If you do shopping a developed world e.g UK THE Chinese goods are clearly labeled “Tested”, meaning they ‘ve been Tried and approved.
    Let US accept QUALITY and not QUANTITY SUBSTANDARD DEVELOPMENT. OUR CURRENCY IS HARD EARNED BY TAX PAYER. Comment

    • Wakishale

      Kindly be honest and tell the nation which bridge so far built by the Chinese has collapsed? How old is that super structure across the Luapula river been in existence and ist not the Chinese who built? How about the hundreds of bridges and tunneld on TAZARA, have they collapsed 50 years down the line? Lusuzi bridge in Lunfazi was done by a Zambian Contractor and for you that is fine. What kind of disgruntledmentality is that?

  2. Osei

    Let us work together we cannot do everything own our own looking around most of mass beautiful infrastructure has been constructed by our friends

  3. Sibweni

    Mr Habazoka is right on china investment in zambia and chinese has no interst 2 takeover govt owned companies. What zambian govt run by pf if it is 10yrs agreement then any party takeover after pf wil pay the loan. The fear frm the west is africans 2 maintain democracy and hate one party ruly system whch is in china. Communitism is better than democracy. Capitalist is evil system bcoz the briby us with human right deny us economic right. Rubbish democracy kiki……

  4. Jms

    When a person opens his or her mouth their is a reason aether to support or not now if supporting is he supporting the truth on the ground or not if I do something its the people seeing what iam doing who should recommend what I do or did so habazoka lubinda see you could have told us which building or thing made by Chinese was rejected by each of the countries you mentioned write something we have to know that it has been written by a very respected person and in such you are helping your own country men to understand the situation but for you I think carried forward never allow someone to chew while using cheap material while loosening the work. A CHINESE CAN MAKE A SIMILAR THING WHICH COSTS SMALLER OR BIGGER IT WILL DEPEND HOW HONEST YOU ARE TO YOU PEOPLE

  5. Chikafuna John Banda

    You are right Dr. Imperialist will always complain but give no alternative solutions to many African countries. Instead of helping us build infrastructure they want our natural resources at the cheapest price even to the extent of arm twisting with threats of job cuts. those willing to do what China has done let them come and out do China.

  6. Deric

    The Western Countries are just worried that they may loose part of the Chinese investment to Africa meant for

  7. Razor

    PF cadre habazoka looking for a government job has now become a de-facto spokesperson for the PF government. He knows he won’t be EAZ president for long and so has to up his game to get an appointment before time runs out.

  8. Jms

    Iam worried to know that lubinda habszooka in not an economist for the country but for the party shame

  9. abilima

    sj – Which bridges?

  10. Tefyo

    The truth is that China produces 2 different products…… For Africa we all know what we are give….. And for the west China maintains quality not quantity…. Lets face the truth Lubinda let’s not tell lies……..

  11. One zed manex

    I love Zambia and I love the debates on this platform,i think cheaper loans are better!!! Let the west follow suit and try the Chinese way.maybe we can try them

  12. Barça Managers™

    Sometimes I wonder why some people oppose anything and everything. Surely this article is straight forward and comprehensive. Had it been written by Mr. Muntombwa, you could have been singing songs of praise and worship. Sometimes I think you are bewitched. Repent and stop hatred. Chintombwa’s time will come and believe you me, he too will face opposition. Oppose to educate not because of malice

    • Barça Managers™

      Sometimes I wonder why some people oppose anything and everything. Surely this article is straight forward and comprehensive. Had it been written by Mr. Chintombwa, you could have been singing songs of praise and worship. Sometimes I think you are bewitched. Repent and stop hatred. Chintombwa’s time will come and believe you me, he too will face opposition. Oppose to educate not because of malice

  13. Sj

    Abilima, a bridge in W/ern Kenya of Busia built by Chinese is said to have collapsed two weeks after being commissioned by President Uhuru Kenyatta in June 2017 killing @ least 27 workers.
    We’re aware that in Africa 27 is but just a number when it’s a construction worker’s life @ stake, in developed countries it would call for Commission of lnquiry and recommendation there after. Comment

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