CHINESE investor and owner of Wonderful Group and Marco Polo Tiles, Yaochi Huang, says Zambians are content with little things and are not ambitious.

And Yaochi says he hopes President Edgar Lungu wins next month’s general elections because regime change could bring about a different set of policies.

Meanwhile, Chris Xing, a Chinese pig farmer, says Zambia is such a dedicated Christian nation, that some citizens believe the Chinese people were sent by God to come and give them jobs.

This is contained in a just released 75-minute-long video documentary dubbed “Zambia: Under Chinese Influence” produced by Romeo Langlois, Nicolas Germain and Yi Song at French television channel France24.

The documentary that also features interviews with notable Zambians and some PF officials, profiles various Chinese business, the founders and what they think about Zambia and the political landscape.

The Chinese talk about how they came to Zambia and what influenced their decisions to start businesses in the country.

Speaking through an interpreter, Yaochi, who is Wonderful Group Chief executive officer, told the French documentarians that doing business in China failed because of stiff competition, until someone advised him to travel to Zambia where he found that citizens are not ambitious and are “content with little things”.

“In China, competition was tough, profits were failing. In 2007, a friend suggested [that] we move to Zambia where there were many opportunities. Back then I didn’t really know the market and the political system so I worked in [a] factory as an employee for two years. My English was not so good back then so I made efforts to improve it. Two years later I started my own business,” he said.

“I started by weaving bags, I sell them to big companies those that sell grain, food, cement. In the private sector, all of the manufacturing companies, we are number one. I started my business from scratch and today I am legend among the Chinese community here. Today my company is worth more than US$250 million. In 2017, I launched the Marco Polo Company, we make tiles.”

Yaochi boasted that he has met all the past presidents in Zambia since his arrival in the country and went further to show the interviewers some photo albums made for him and President Lungu.

He hoped President Lungu would be re-elected for a fresh five year term.

“Since my arrival, I have met four Zambian presidents (Kenneth) Kaunda, Rupiah Banda, (Michael) Sata and Mr (Edgar) Lungu. What my company wants is political stability. If there is a new regime, there will be new polices. So we hope the President will be re-elected for a new five year term,” Yaochi said.

“Zambians tend to be content with just few things, they are not as ambitious as us. So you have to educate them. Right now our employees are working hard. The economic situation is difficult, there is a lot of stress. Everyday our gates people queue up and ask if there is any work. Our employees know that if they don’t work well, they will end up in that queue.”

And Xing, a pig farmer, says he brought his parents to Zambia because they were failing to make it in China.

“My parents were farmers in China. I brought them here. Their farm was smaller than this one but they know what they are doing. The whole farm we feed around 350 pigs. our plan in the future maybe 2022 we can reach 3,000. It is a win win situation, we need them (Zambian employees) and they need us. This country is very Christian, some of them believe we have been sent here by God. They thank God,” said Xing.

“Another Chinese, Shi Jianping, a producer and supplier of Dragon Fruit, says the Chinese government encourages them to leave the overpopulated country and settle in other countries where they can find arable land.

“In China, farming is difficult there is less land to cultivate. So we need to leave China, and actually, the government encourages us to do just that. In China there are too many people and there is not enough land. Competition is tough. If someone sees you planting dragon fruit and making money, the next day they will do the same thing. Here I am the only one doing this. I am the only Chinese person here, all my employees are Zambians,” says Jianping.

ZCCZ Chief Executive Officer, Oscar Liao, says in 2020, China’s biggest investment to Africa went to Zambia.

“In 2020 Chinese investment in Zambia totaled US$440 million. That is China’s biggest investment in Africa. Within the context of China’s strategy called the New Silk Road, more and more Chinese companies are encouraged to invest everywhere in Africa. I hope French Companies will invest within our zone, the ZCCZ,” said Liao.

One of the mine workers interviewed, however, lamented that the employees are made to work for 12 hours with little pay.

Meanwhile, featuring in the same documentary, Economics Association of Zambia (EAZ) president Lubinda Habazooka said Chinese mining activities in the country were shrouded in secrecy.

Asked if there were figures in the Chinese Mines on how much of the copper was going to China, Habazoka said “there was no data”.

“We don’t have any figures in the mining industry, it’s crazy. Mines are very secretive. There is what is known as the extractive industry transparency initiative, but it’s all lies. Do you know how they do it? I go and take a sample to the government that this is the copper ore I am exporting but there is less copper content than what is really exported, then what goes nobody checks it,” said Lubinda.

PF national deputy spokesperson Antonio Mwanza, however said the ruling party was grateful to the Chinese because they have given Zambia a better deal than the Western donors.

“China is not taking anything away from Zambia. China has helped us more than the Western world. China has invested billions of their own money in our mining, in our infrastructure, in our communication and transport. China is investing billions of dollars in our energy infrastructure. So China is giving us a better deal,” said Mwanza.

“The PF is a pro-poor political party. It is a party of the peasants, the ordinary Zambians, the farmers, the workers, the students. We are strongly fighting against corruption, our opponents use it as political rhetoric. We are very confident that His Excellency President Edgar Chagwa Lungu will emerge victorious.”


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