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China's Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus


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Chinese development finance flows provided to African recipients have gained a lot of attention for their volume and nature, representing an alternative approach to development. It is the aim of this article to examine the observance of principles of China's development model, the Beijing Consensus, through China's Official Development Finance delivered to Zambia between 2000 and 2014. Due to a lack of information published on development finance flows by the Chinese government, the author uses AidData's dataset, media, and government reports to verify the nature and amount of finance flows provided and their allocation in the country. The analysis demonstrates that apart from the "non-interference principle", all the principles are observed when their adherence is limited to the purpose of the delivered projects. However, their observance is at the same time undercut by characteristics of the process of projects' implementation and their allocation. There are also other Chinese activities further undermining the adherence. Although these activities are not directly associated with China's ODF-like finance delivery to Zambia, they influence the successful observance of the examined principles in a negative way.
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China’s Official Development Finance Flows
in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
(University of Hradec Králové)
Chinese development finance flows provided to African recipients have gained a lot of
attention for their volume and nature, representing an alternative approach to
development. It is the aim of this article to examine the observance of principles of
China’s development model, the Beijing Consensus, through China’s Official
Development Finance delivered to Zambia between 2000 and 2014. Due to a lack of
information published on development finance flows by the Chinese government, the
author uses AidData’s dataset, media, and government reports to verify the nature and
amount of finance flows provided and their allocation in the country. The analysis
demonstrates that apart from the “non-interference principle”, all the principles are
observed when their adherence is limited to the purpose of the delivered projects.
However, their observance is at the same time undercut by characteristics of the process
of projects’ implementation and their allocation. There are also other Chinese activities
further undermining the adherence. Although these activities are not directly associated
with China’s ODF-like finance delivery to Zambia, they influence the successful
observance of the examined principles in a negative way.
Keywords: China, Africa, development, Beijing Consensus, Zambia.
has witnessed unprecedented economic growth since the
adoption of the economic reforms, 40 years ago. For many contemporary
developing countries, its example is perceived as an alternative development
approach that is worth attention not only for its success, but also due to the
disappointment arising from the acceptance and implementation of Western-
centered models of development experimented under the Washington
Consensus, which led to the deterioration of economic, social, and political
conditions in many developing countries. China’s specific development
Iva Sojková is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Political Science, African Studies,
Philosophical Faculty at University of Hradec Králové. Her research interests concern
China’s development financing in Africa, its determinants and motivations beyond
projects allocation. She is also working for a Czech based NGO as a
research analyst (
Whenever the article refers to "China", the "People’s Republic of China (PRC)" is meant.
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
experience triggered a controversial debate concerning the applicability or
repeatability of its developmental path. This debate was triggered in 2004 when
Joshua Cooper Ramo published the essay The Beijing Consensus
focused on
the development policies and reforms China adopted, as well as on its
underlying values. Symbolically, just by using the term, Ramo called attention
to the difference between this model and the model of the Western/Washington
Consensus, formulated by John Williamson in 1989 and subsequently applied to
developing countries and countries undergoing economic crises.
The Beijing Consensus therefore represents an alternative model that is
appealing for developing countries due to China’s economic success, a country
that has managed to get hundreds of millions of its inhabitants out of poverty.
As the African continent consists mainly of developing countries, this approach
was rapidly perceived as a potential replacement of the Western model of
development that gained a negative connotation among numerous African
societies and political leaders, considering its impact on the micro-economic
level as well as the core values and policies imposed by the donor-countries.
Since 2000, when the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) was
it has also been possible to observe a significant growth of Chinese
involvement in Africa. With this increased interest, the financial flows - which
can be characterized as Official Development Finance Flows - have been
growing as well. As a result, between 2000 and 2014, with almost 30% share of
China’s total development financing, Africa became the second largest recipient
of these flows, surpassed only by Asia.
One of the African countries in which the Chinese presence and interests
are the most evident is Zambia, a country where the development finance flows
have reached a total amount of 5.4 billion USD, ranking the country among the
top recipients on the continent. Because of these substantial investments,
Zambia is an interesting case to examine as it has been receiving Chinese
development finance flows quite regularly since the 1960s. This makes it a
rather rare case in the African context - in most of the African countries, the
cooperation eventually suffered from political and ideological turmoil resulting
in a Chinese discontinuous influx of financial flows. Moreover, given this long-
lasting cooperation and support, the outstanding Zambia-China ties are at times
Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Beijing Consensus, Foreign Policy Centre, London, 2004.
The emergence of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), founded in 2000,
represents also the beginning of the timescale in the research, as it can be considered a
milestone in the relations between China and the African countries. It is this
institutionalization of cooperation that has led to a significant increase and regularity in
various Chinese financial flows to the region. The end of the time period is 2014 which is
given by restrictions on the availability of coherent data on China’s development finance.
The figure was calculated by the author based on the dataset provided by AidData
available at: (accessed: 9
October 2017).
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
referred to as “all-weather friends” relationship. In this respect, it is highly
interesting to analyse the development finance flows in the Zambian case with
the intent to better understand how these relations have changed after 2000. It is
hence the objective of this article to evaluate the compliance with China’s
model of development – the so-called Beijing Consensus (as defined by Ramo)
– and the evolution of the financial flows provided by the Chinese Official
Development Finance to Zambia between 2000 and 2014.
The research question
is: Are the suggested principles of the Beijing Consensus observed in the case of
Zambia during the provision of the Chinese ODF flows and projects?
There have been numerous publications dealing with the issue of Chinese
development finance flows in Africa. Among the most significant studies,
Bräutigam's articles and books stand out
. Her research can be considered, so
far, to be the most extensive on the issue of China’s development aid, in
particular in relation to her intention to cover the information gap and to
challenge some myths concerning China’s involvement in Africa as well as
China’s specific understanding of what a development aid should includes.
Among other important studies focused on Chinese development finance flows,
it is possible to mention a collection of articles edited by Dent
, the volume co-
signed by Davies
and the research done by Ngaire Woods
. One of the most
recent studies questioning some myths about Chinese development finance
flows to Africa is a quantitative research conducted by Axel Dreher et al
. The
literature addressing the Beijing Consensus or China’s development model
questions the very existence of the model and its features, if compared to its
countermodel, the Washington Consensus. Most of these studies multiplied in
response to the financial crises hitting the world markets in 2008, during which
the Chinese economy proved to be resilient to these financial fluctuations,
making the debate and research on China’s development model even more
Deborah Bräutigam, “China’s Foreign Aid in Africa: What Do We Know?,”, Robert I.
Rodberg (ed.), China into Africa. Trade, Aid, and Influence, The Brookings Institution
Press, Washington, D.C., 2008, pp. 197-216; Deborah Bräutigam, The dragon's gift: the
real story of China in Africa, Oxford University Press, New York, 2010; Deborah
Bräutigam, “Aid ‘With Chinese Characteristics’: Chinese Foreign Aid and Development
Finance Meet the OECDDAC Aid Regime”, Journal of International Development 23: 5,
2011, pp. 752-754.
Christopher M. Dent (ed.), China and Africa Development Relations, Routledge, London,
Martyn Davies et al., How China delivers development assistance to Africa, Centre for
Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch, 2008.
Ngaire Woods, “Whose aid? Whose influence? China, emerging donors and the silent
revolution in development assistance”, International Affairs 84: 6, 2008, pp. 1205-1221.
Axel Dreher et al., “Apples and Dragon Fruits: The Determinants of Aid and Other Forms
of State Financing from China to Africa”, Discussion Paper Series, no. 620, 2016,'Tie
rney_2016_dp620.pdf (accessed 28 September 2017).
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
relevant. In relation to this discussion, one can come across a number of authors
dealing with the Beijing Consensus and China’s peculiar economic growth,
most of which present the Chinese model as a potential threat to the dominance
of the United States and its liberal-democratic model
. Other scholars described
the model as an opportunity and a better alternative for developing regions
. In
this article, different critical analyses are discussed in order to illustrate the
possible weaknesses and strengths of Ramo’s ideas
. The critical debate that
emerged as a reaction to Ramo’s concept points out to some troublesome
aspects of his thoughts concerning the very existence of the model and the
applicability of its principles or even the originality of China’s development
path suggested by Ramo when the concept is compared to the Washington
The main contribution of this article to the debate lies in its endeavor to
go beyond the prevailing theoretical discussion and examine its applicability
empirically within a specific case study, Zambia. Note should be taken that
some of the models’ features have been addressed within some of the
aforementioned studies on China’s engagement in Africa (e.g., the non-
Naazneen Barma and Ely Ratner, “China’s illiberal challenge”, Democracy: A Journal of
Ideas 2: Fall, 2006, pp. 56-68; Ian Bremmer, “State Capitalism Comes of Age”, Foreign
Affairs 88: 3, 2009, pp. 40–56; Stefan A. Halper, The Beijing Consensus, How China's
Authoritarian Model Will Dominate the Twenty-First Century, Basic Books, New York,
2010; Clyde Prestowitz, The Betrayal of American Prosperity: Free Market Delusions,
America’s Decline, and How We Must Compete in the Post-Dollar Era, Free Press, New
York, 2010; Ziya ÖNIŞ, “The Age of Anxiety: The Crisis of Liberal Democracy in a
Post-Hegemonic Global Order”, The International Spectator 52: 3, 2017, pp. 18-35.
Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Beijing Consensus... cit.; Chris Colley, “China’s reforms at 30
and the ‘Beijing Consensus’”, Pambazuka News, China-Africa Watch section, issue 417,
31 January 31,
30-and-%E2%80%9Cbeijing-consensus%E2%80%9D (accessed 1 February 2018);
Martin Jacques, When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Middle Kingdom and the
End of the Western World, Penguin: Harmondsworth, 2009; Xin LI, Kjeld Erik
Brødsgaard, and Michael Jacobsen, “Redefining Beijing Consensus: ten economic
principles”, China Economic Journal 2: 3, 2010, pp. 297-311.
Arif Dirlik, “Beijing Consensus: Beijing ‘Gongshi.’Who Recognizes Whom and to What
End?”, Position Paper, Globalization and Autonomy Online Compendium, (accessed
13 March 2018); Max Rebol, “Why the Beijing Consensus is a Non-Consensus:
Implications for Contemporary China-Africa Relations”, Culture Mandala: Bulletin of the
Centre for East-West Cultural & Economic Studies 9: 1, 2010, pp. 7-20; Scott Kennedy,
“The Myth of the Beijing Consensus”, Journal of Contemporary China 19: 65, 2010, pp.
461-47; Barry Naughton, “China's distinctive system: can it be a model for others?”,
Journal of Contemporary China, 19: 65, 2010, pp. 437-460; Shaun Breslin, „The ‘China
Model’ And the Global Crisis: From Friedrich List to a Chinese mode of governance?”,
International Affairs 87: 6, 2011, pp. 1323-1343; Matt Ferchen, “Whose China Model is it
anyway? The contentious search for consensus”, Review of International Political
Economy 20: 2, 2013, pp. 390-420.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
interference principle or the impact of China’s engagement on the
environment). However, most of these studies only rarely focused on the
specific debate on China’s model of development
and the research on its
applicability on the Zambian case is absent. To cover this gap, an instrumental
case study is used to analyse the Chinese development finance flows through
the observance of its core-principles: the innovation-led development, social
development, sustainable development, non-interference in the internal affairs
of another state, and the principle of stability. For each of these principles, the
study examines the delivery of specific projects supporting its compliance.
Other activities and engagement of China in Zambia are also analysed in the
cases where they are considered to have a potential influence on the compliance
with its core-principles. The conclusions drawn are then evaluated in order to
understand the extent to which the Beijing Consensus applies in Zambia. This
method allows us to thoroughly analyse detailed data and information on the
project level in order to understand the nature of the delivered projects and the
characteristics of China’s engagement in Zambia.
When dealing with the topic of China’s development finance flows, one
can come across several obstacles that need to be faced. The major one is the
lack of officially provided transparent data on the project level, data that would
give the researcher the much needed specific information on the nature and the
development potential of the financial flows, and, above all, that would also
confirm the very existence of the projects and their allocation. Therefore, in
order to deal with the research question, the information is drawn primarily
from newspaper articles dealing with the topic of development finance flows
provided by China. These articles were published mainly in Zambia or in China.
However, Chinese media are rarely referred to as they are considered less
reliable and are used just to confirm the very existence of a specific project.
Other complementary sources have been included: government and NGOs
reports and statements as well as research articles published on China’s
engagement in Zambia. Although in recent years, some efforts have been made
to deal with this data gap (White Papers on development aid were published in
and 2014
), the available information remaines too vague and only very
limited research has relied on it. To note also the Beijing’s rejection of the
international regime for the provision of development finance flows, as defined
by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic
Iva Sojková, “The Beijing Consensus: Characteristics of China’s Official Development
Finance in Ghana, 2000–2013” Central European Journal of International and Security
Studies 11: 3, 2017, pp. 107-140.
The State Council of the PRC, “China’s Foreign Aid”, 2011,
archive/white_paper/2014/09/09/content_281474986284620.htm (accessed 9 October
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Cooperation and Development (OECD-DAC). This represents an additional
obstacle for the classification of the Chinese financial flows. China argues that
South-South cooperation is qualitatively different and should therefore not be
determined by traditional principles of finance provision and, consequently,
considers that the principle of transparency should apply only to North-South
However, some efforts have been made to address this data gap.
So far, the most ambitious project was launched in 2013 by the AidData
organization. AidData responds to the demand for more accurate data on the
project level and openly addresses the issue of data complexity and the
possibility to classify Chinese development finance flows as defined by the
OECD. With respect to the OECD’s classification of ODF
, it recognizes
several classes China’s ODF flows are split into: “ODA-like”, “OOF-like”, and
a class labelled “Vague Official Finances”, a category that includes finance
impossible to identify in a precise manner due to the lack of information about
its development potential.
In this article, the classification and calculations
related to the projects are based on the data collected and published under the
AidData initiative. The financial flows are labelled in accordance to the
AidData classification.
The article concludes that, putting aside the non-interference in the
internal affairs of another state principle, a principle that was clearly breached
Mark Tran, “Transparency Could Be the Sticking Point for China at Busan”, The
Guardian, November 14, 2011,
2011/nov/14/busan-aid-china-rejects transparency (accessed 19 October 2017).
Official Development Finance is used for measuring the inflow of resources to recipient
countries and includes: (a) bilateral Official Development Assistance (ODA), (b) grants
and concessional and non-concessional development lent by multilateral financial
institutions, and (c) Other Official Flows (OOF) for development purposes (including
refinancing loans) which have too low a grant element to qualify as ODA. Specifically,
ODA is defined according to the OECD as “grants or loans to countries and territories on
the DAC List of ODA Recipients (developing countries) and to multilateral agencies
which are: (a) undertaken by the official sector; (b) with promotion of economic
development and welfare as the main objective; (c) at concessional financial terms (if a
loan, having a grant element of at least 25 per cent). In addition to financial flows,
technical co-operation is included in aid. Grants, loans and credits for military purposes
are excluded. Transfer payments to private individuals (e.g., pensions, reparations or
insurance pay-outs) are in general not counted.” (OECD- DAC, “Glossary of Key Terms
and Concepts”, (accessed 19 October 2017)).
Development finances classified as OOF are defined as “transactions by the official sector
with countries on the DAC List of ODA Recipients which do not meet the conditions for
eligibility as Official Development Assistance, either because they are not primarily
aimed at development, or because they have a grant element of less than 25 per cent”.
Austin Strange et al., “China's development finance to Africa: A media-based approach to
data collection”, Center for Global Development Working Paper No. 323, 2013, pp. 15.
All amounts concerning the development financing that were calculated by the author are
provided in the US dollars with inflation rate of 2014.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
during the 2006 election, all principles were met when the observance was
limited to financial and project delivery phases. However, their compliance
depends on the characteristics of the process of projects’ implementation and
allocation. Some of the projects and finance flows have been criticized for their
quality and sustainability. The analysis provided takes into account the broad
criticisms characterizing China’s engagement in Zambia after the 2000s.
However, there have been some cases in which the legitimacy and unbiasedness
of the accusations against China could be at least contested. This poses a
question on the extent of China’s real negative influence, an element that has
been quite frequently presented in Zambia and abroad by the media and
different politicians.
The Beijing Consensus
Short Discussion and Operationalization of the Concept
The controversial debate about the Chinese model of development began
as a response to the publication of Ramo's analysis in 2004. The scholar used
the term “Beijing Consensus” to describe the uniqueness of the Chinese
development approach, a model that differs from the Western one the
“Washington Consensus” – presented by John Williamson in 1989. Williamson
created a list of rules of neoliberal policy for economic reform in Latin
America, which, as he expected, Washington-based institutions and policy
makers would agree on. Individual policies emphasized the role of the market
and the limited role of the state. This model was later presented as universally
applicable for developing countries facing an economic crisis. In the case of the
African states, loans were provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
and the World Bank when a given country acceded to the Structural Adjustment
Programs (SAPs). The impact of SAPs imposition on African countries was
vast and ubiquitous as by 1993, virtually all sub-Saharan Africa states had been
obliged to implement adjustment programmes. On the population level, such
poverty expansion was indicated by inaccessible basic public services that
became, due to budget cuts, privatization, lower incomes, and higher taxes,
largely unaffordable. The situation resulted in a spread of illiteracy and
worsening quality of lives.
In this regard, Zambia was not an exception.
Ross P. Buckley, “The Rich Borrow and the Poor Repay: The Fatal Flaw in International
Finance”, World Policy Journal 19: 4, 2002, p. 62.
Neo Simutanyi, “The politics of structural adjustment in Zambia”, Third World Quarterly
17: 4, 1996, pp. 825-839; William Easterly, “IMF and World Bank structural adjustment
programs and poverty”, in Michael P. Dooley, Jeffrey A. Frankel (eds.), Managing
currency crises in emerging markets. University of Chicago Press, 2003, pp. 361-392;
William Easterly, “What did structural adjustment adjust?: The association of policies and
growth with repeated IMF and World Bank adjustment loans”, Journal of development
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Such a negative experience of many developing countries contributed to the
popularity of China’s development approach, which was seen as free from
imposed neoliberal development policies and free from the history of adoption
of such policies in China.
Ramo assumes that the increasing importance of China has not only
changed the international order but also created a new model upon which other
states can build their own development. It assumes that the model of the
Chinese transformation is attractive to those states that are trying to figure out
the way to develop themselves, their place in the international system in the
attempt to remain independent and to maintain their own way of life, as well as
the ability to make their own political decisions. In this regard, Ramo believes
that the Beijing Consensus replaces the Washington Consensus as an already
discredited “Washington-knows-best approach to telling other nations how to
run themselves”. Symbolically, Ramo labels it as “a hallmark of end-of-history
According to Ramo, China’s model of development is flexible
enough that it can hardly be classified as a doctrine: “it does not believe in
uniform solutions for every situation.”
It can be defined as an effort to
innovate and experiment, to maintain national borders and interests. It is a
model that arose after the reign of Deng Xiaoping and follows the pragmatic
ideas of that time in which the best path for modernization could be described as
one of “groping for stones to cross the river” instead of trying to cross the river
in one great leap of shock therapy.
Ramo himself points out that China’s
development path as well as its path to power cannot be repeated by another
nation. However, some elements of China’s rise relate to the developing world
and therefore the Beijing Consensus already represents and gives rise to new
ideas that are very different from those of the West. The Beijing Consensus, just
like the Washington Consensus before it, includes notions that concern not only
the economic dimension, but also the political one, as well as the ones related to
quality of life and the global balance of power.
Ramo explains the Beijing
Consensus as the result of three core-theorems about how to organise the place
of a developing country in the world. More precisely, he refers to:
1. Innovation-led development
The first theorem argues that the Chinese path of development stems
from innovations and technological leaps. It is the innovation-led growth that
was able to keep the Chinese economy growing and helped it to offset the
economics 76: 1, 2005, pp. 1-22; James Ferguson, Global shadows: Africa in the
neoliberal world order, Duke University Press, Durham and London, 2006.
Chris Alden, “China in Africa. Partner, Competitor, or Hegemon?”, Zed Books, London
and New York, 2007, p. 20.
Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Beijing Consensuscit., p. 4.
Ibidem, p. 5.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
disastrous internal imbalances. The innovation and acquisition of new
technologies led to rapid change in some sectors which then solved the
problems arising from the reforms, and contributed to the creation of stable
environment. This change is based on knowledge. It is therefore necessary for
the state to invest in education both through the construction of educational and
research centres, and by attracting experts from abroad. Innovative society
creates an environment within which experimentation and failures are
acceptable, leading to productive economic dynamics and allowing substantial
economic sectors to be gradually transformed according to the needs and to be
able to survive the development shocks.
2. Sustainable and equitable development environment
The second theorem argues that China does not focus only on economic
growth, but also on a fair distribution of wealth where the benefits are widely
shared in society. Ramo points out that for Chinese leaders and local officials,
sustainable and balanced growth became of major concern. It is believed that an
egalitarian environment and emphasis on redistribution of resources in society
and improvement of the quality of life of citizens can prevent the society from
experiencing the chaos that may occur as a result of development changes.
Likewise, Ramo highlights at this point the efforts to reduce the negative
impacts on the environment resulting from economic growth and the importance
of creating a stable environment, which is a prerequisite for development.
3. The right to self-determination of China and other countries in relation
to the United States
This element of the Beijing Consensus refers to the ability to maintain
control over own development policies and development paths, as well as to the
success of the Chinese development, which has become a challenge for the
United States both because of the growing power of China and because the
model has become attractive to other developing countries. Ramo argues that
Beijing did not follow the strict policies of the Washington Consensus, but
rather implemented reforms that better match local conditions and
circumstances. The developing world sees China as an economic partner and
political ally representing an alternative development model that further
contributes to the erosion of the US global dominance.
Ibidem, pp. 15-20.
Ibidem, pp. 21-24.
Ibidem, pp. 37-42.
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
The introduction of Ramo’s Beijing Consensus led to broad critiques
from a number of scholars. Some authors
, for instance, question the very term
of the “Beijing Consensus”, as no one agrees on anything in Beijing thus the
term “consensus” inaccurately describes the way policies that led to the Chinese
development arose. Rebol
then argues that the Beijing Consensus does not aim
to be imposed as a development model, which is why it should be seen a
passive development model that can inspire policies of other states voluntarily.
This aspect brings the model in opposition to the Western active model that
imposes its sets of rules upon developing countries in order to be implemented.
Given the Beijing Consensus’s passivity, however, it is difficult to implement
the model in a different environment.
Moreover, when the two development
models are compared point by point, there is little difference between the
Chinese development experience and the Washington Consensus principles.
China, for instance, maintained relative fiscal discipline throughout tax base
expansion, and public expenditures have been reoriented toward public good.
Other similarity is evident in the deregulation of prices and privatisation of its
state-owned companies. Property rights were also enhanced, and market entry
and exit barriers were eased. China also embraced international trade and FDI,
while maintaining a competitive exchange rate.
Some scholars then also question the very principles of the development
model as stated by Ramo. Kennedy at this point underlines the troublesome
theorem on the role of innovation in development, as China did not develop
primarily through innovation and thus managed to skip several generations of
technology and cannot be perceived as a leader in this field, although innovation
played a role in its development. With an open-door policy, China was able to
attract a number of investors from abroad who brought along with their
businesses also new technology into China. In this regard, China did not
become an innovator, but rather took advantage of these foreign imported
technologies that also brought valuable knowledge and experience. Even today,
although China exports the latest technology, it is not manufactured and
invented solely by Chinese companies, but rather by companies that are either
jointly owned by Chinese and foreign co-owners, or that are foreign altogether,
only using beneficial Chinese conditions for manufacturing their products.
Similarly, Dirlik
underlines that Ramo does not discuss the role of cheap
labour that attracts foreign investors that are consequently bringing the newest
Scott Kennedy, “The Myth of the Beijing Consensus...cit”, p. 462; Barry Naughton,
“China’s distinctive system…cit”, pp. 437-438.
Max Rebol, “Why the Beijing Consensus is a Non-Consensus…cit”, p. 18.
Matt Ferchen, “Whose China Model is it anyway?...cit”, p. 394.
Scott Kennedy, “The Myth of the Beijing Consensus…cit”, p. 462.
Arif Dirlik, “Beijing Consensus: Beijing ‘Gongshi.’…cit”, p. 3.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
technologies. However, as Ortmann
points out, China is increasingly trying to
focus on the area of innovation as the next stage of growth and although some
entrepreneurs have achieved a great deal of improvement in this field, it is still a
very difficult step in the development of the country, as it takes place in a very
closed system.
Similarly, Kennedy also questions Ramo’s theorem about the suggested
sustainability of China’s development and therefore the respect for the
environment. China made efforts to minimize the impact of the rapid
development on the environment. However, proposals on this issue were never
successfully implemented, since China has always been giving priority to
development over environmental considerations. Kennedy also perceives
Ramo’s point concerning the equity of growth as a weakness, implying that
development brings benefits to the entire population. Even though China did
manage to get hundreds of million people out of poverty, at the same time, the
rapid development has led to increasing inequality – personal, sectorial, and
regional – one cannot therefore think of the reform as being without losers.
However, Kennedy admits in this regard that social justice is one of the future
goals of development policies in China.
Similarly, Dirlik questions the
theorem claiming that not all Chinese shared the equality during the
development and Ramo fails to address such a marginalization by development
Indeed, as Breslin
puts it, when Ramo writes about the
characteristics of the Beijing Consensus, such as innovation and commitment to
equitable growth, they should be seen as something that the government wants
its development strategy to achieve in the future, rather than a summary of what
has already taken place. Thus, the Beijing Consensus remains in many respects
an aspiration rather than today’s reality.
Despite such critiques, the Beijing Consensus concept as presented by
Ramo has fueled a mix of excitement and worries inspired by China’s booming
economy and its rapidly expanding global economic and political influence.
Regardless of the way in which China has managed to develop from an
underdeveloped country in a very short period of time, for other developing
countries, this short path to success remains a very attractive example. It should
be added that the presentation of the Beijing Consensus as an alternative
development model witnessed a large increase in attention in recent years
mainly due to the economic crisis, which highlighted the weaknesses of market
fundamentalism and conversely stressed the importance of government
regulation and a strong state. In this context, it is important to note that Beijing
itself is aware of this fact. Although there is a debate about whether China has
Stephan Ortmann, “The ‘Beijing Consensus’ and the ‘Singapore model’: Unmasking the
Myth of an Alternative Authoritarian State-capitalist Model”, Journal of Chinese
Economic and Business Studies 10: 4, 2012, p. 340.
Scott Kennedy, “The Myth of the Beijing Consensus…cit”, p. 470.
Arif Dirlik, “Beijing Consensus: Beijing ‘Gongshi’…cit.”, p. 4.
Shaun Breslin, ‘“The ‘China Model’ And the …”, p. 1331.
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
ever perceived and labelled its development experience as a model that could be
replicated and given the fact that the idea of the Beijing Consensus as a
development model did not originate in China, some of its steps suggest such
awareness. As pointed out by Halper
, in response to the global economic
crisis, a new ambitious project arose and served to draw attention to the
existence and importance of China’s alternative model of development and
economic success. It is an attempt to create a network of Beijing’s foreign offices or
branches, which will present the modern face of China in every country in the
world. The emergence of this project was a response to the global economic
crisis and was used as a platform for criticism of capitalism and the presentation
of the “Chinese model” as a counterpart of the Western model that led to the
crises. Through the media, the Chinese government has pointed to the failure of
free-market fundamentalism, which only emphasized the superiority of the
Chinese way of development during the presidency of Hu Jinatao, bearing the
name of scientific development theory. This is the official name for the policy
advocated by the ruling party that stressed the promotion of the welfare of the
population, which is strictly controlled by the government from the centre, in
other words, it represents a policy promoting the idea of state capitalism.
Based on Ramo’s theorems of the Beijing Consensus, the following
principles for the case study observance are introduced:
(1) The principle of innovation-led development emphasizes the
importance of acquisition of technology and transfer of knowledge in
development through financial, material, and staff support, in educational and
research projects in the country. It is examined if the principle is observed
through the projects supporting the principle whether directly by their very
purpose or indirectly as a by-product.
(2) The principle of social development. Within this principle, it is
analysed if the Chinese development finance flows address and support
development of social infrastructure in the recipient’s country through
providing finances for projects within the sector. It is also the concern to find
out whether this principle is observed during the projects’ implementation
process, thus potentially improving the quality of life of recipients’ inhabitants
and if the projects implemented are not concentrated in one area in the country,
and are allocated equally reaching the poorest regions.
(3) The principle of sustainable development. Under this principle, the
attention is paid to the projects that are related to improving the recipient’s
environment with their very purpose. Thus, projects directly aimed at protecting
the environment, renewable sources, and carbon emission reduction are grouped
within this category. It is also of interest to examine if the implementation does
not degrade the recipient’s environment through potentially harmful and locally
inappropriate technology used, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Stefan A. Halper, The Beijing Consensus…cit., pp. 10-11.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
(4) The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of another
state. The non-interference principle is a traditional element of Chinese foreign
policy and the principle generally means that a country shall not interfere or
intervene in other countries’ internal affairs, which come under domestic
In this regard, it is monitored whether China forces the recipient
to adopt political and economic reforms in exchange for its development
finance provision that would consequently lead to violation of recipient’s
sovereignty. It is monitored whether there are projects whose implementation
and existence are conditioned by acceptance of Chinese interests that force the
recipient to implement political and economic reforms and thus create
favourable environment for their delivery.
(5) The principle of stability. This principle works on the assumption of
stability as a prerequisite for any development to take place. It is assumed that
China aims to support stable environment in the concerned countries, enhancing
the state capacity to control the development and, at the same time, to mitigate
the negative impact development can bring to a developing country. The
observance of the principle is explored through monitoring possible protests
concerning the Chinese projects implementation and the recipient’s capacity to
manage its fiscal obligations to the international creditors with further debt
burden to China. Under this principle, purposes of projects aiming at enhancing
stability and peace in the country are examined. This concerns the cases where
China supports the implementation of projects that are aimed at strengthening
the security and capacity of the state institutions in the country.
The Case Study of Zambia
The Chinese-Zambian bilateral relations have been established since the
independence of Zambia in 1964. These ties survived ideological as well as
political changes in Zambia and China, and have remained friendly until the
new millennium. Such extraordinary stable relations were strongly influenced
by a specific situation in Zambia. In the 1960s and the 1970s, Zambian
government had to deal with an unstable geopolitical area considering that a
white minority hostile to independence movements ruled neighboring countries
- Mozambique, Angola and Zimbabwe. In this geopolitical context, Zambia’s
main trade routes were blocked and, starting with the 1960s, Zambia requested
international assistance for the construction of an alternative road to Dar es
Salaam, through the neighboring Tanzania. However, these requests were
Zheng Chen, “China Debates the Non-Interference Principle”, The Chinese Journal of
International Politics 9: 3, 2016, p. 351.
In this context, only one official condition still remains: the delivery of development
finance from China concerns only the states that do not maintain diplomatic ties with
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
denied with the argument that the project was not economically feasible. In the
end, it was Beijing who agreed to build a two thousand-kilometer-long railway -
the Tanzania-Zambia Railway (TAZARA). Since 1967, the year when
TAZARA construction started, further development finance flows from the
PRC followed, including loans and grants mainly for the development of
Zambia’s infrastructure, as well as staffing in healthcare or scholarships to
Zambian students. Unlike other cases of African states, this development
financing has not been interfered by internal political changes and became
relatively constant.
In this respect, from 1967 to 1996, up to 35 development
projects implemented by China can be counted in Zambia. The total amount of
this aid exceeded 370 million USD, but more specific information from this
period is missing and the accurate volume of finance delivered can only be
In return for Beijing’s support, Zambia provided political support to
the PRC in international institutions as the legitimate representative of China.
Since the beginning of the new millennium, as elsewhere on the
continent, Chinese financial flows have been rapidly growing, reaching 5.4
billion USD in 2014 (see figure 1). However, with the growing Chinese
engagement in the country, the long-lasting all-weather friendship between the
two countries has started to deteriorate.
Figure 1: Chinese ODF-like flows to Zambia, 2000 – 2014
Frederick Mutesa, “China and Zambia: between development and politics”, in Fantu
Cheru and Cyril Obi (eds.), The rise of China and India in Africa Challenges,
Opportunities and Critical Interventions, Zed Books, London, 2010, p. 169.
Chilufya Chileshe, Chinese Debt, Aid and Trade: Opportunity or Threat for Zambia?”, Occasional Paper, no.
72. SAIIA, 2010, p. 7, =1&cad
(accessed 20 October 2017).
Frederick Mutesa, “China and Zambia: between development….cit.”, pp. 167–168.
The graph includes only the examples of Chinese financing that have not been labelled as
“cancelled”. Thus, the author includes project statuses on the level of pledge, commitment,
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Innovation-led Development
The observance of the first principle is supported by projects that can be
mainly classified under the social infrastructure sector. Thus, in the period
under review, the PRC provided scholarships to Zambian students, as for
instance in 2007, to enhance their knowledge in the fields of medicine, IT,
international business, or agriculture at universities in China.
However, the
main progress in this regard was made several years later. In 2013, different
initiatives in the sector of education could be observed. In 2013, an agreement
was signed on provision of scholarships for up to 60 Zambian students every
The same year Chinese embassy co-financed a project of reconstruction
of one of the campuses of University of Zambia.
In 2014, the construction of
the Confucius Institute branch co-funded by China was also completed at this
During this time period, the number of constructed facilities
remained rather small. As in 2007, only a single project - building two rural
schools - can be noticed.
In the case of Zambia, it became evident that China
is more keen on paying attention to scholarship provisions as a way to support
knowledge transfer in the educational sector.
In the health sector, there were several projects delivered that can be
considered as supporting the principle’s observance. The cost of the
implemented projects within this sector exceeded the amount of 230 million
Among the initiatives supporting this principle, several types need to be
mentioned: a regular provision of medical teams from China to health facilities
in Zambia,
as well as several technology transfers
including supporting the
suspension, implementation and completion. Figures are calculated based on the dataset
provided by AidData available at:
dataset (accessed 20 October 2017).
46´, “Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. 25 Zambian
students win Chinese gov't-provided scholarships”, 22 August 2007,
english/2007-08/22/content_724153.htm (accessed 20 October 2017).
Office of the President of the Republic of Zambia, “China Investment Coming”, 2013, (accessed 20 October 2017).
Shamaoma Musonda, “Zambia: UNZA Fundraises for Library Project”, AllAfrica, 22
November 2013, (accessed 20 October
Confucius Institute at University of Zambia, “Chinese Vice President Attended
Groundbreaking Ceremony for Confucius Institute Building at UNZA, Students’ Singing
Chinese Songs Won Applause”, 2014,
(accessed 20 October 2017).
Martyn Davies et al., How China delivers development …cit., p. 50.
The amount calculated by the author based on data provided by AidData available at: (accessed 20 October 2017).
Chomba Musika, “28 Chinese Doctors Jet”, The Lusaka Times, 28 November 2011, (accessed 20 October
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
establishment of mobile hospital facilities to get health care to remote areas
and an equipment provision to antimalarial centre in Lusaka.
More recently, it
is possible to mention an expansion of one of Lusaka’s hospitals including
provision of high-tech equipment.
Likewise, projects focused on the transfer of knowledge were also
implemented in the sector of agriculture. The Agricultural Technology
Demonstration Center was constructed to increase agricultural production in
Zambia - trainings, research cooperation and technology transfers were
provided between University of Zambia and Chinese Jilin Agricultural
Similarly, in the communication sector, some projects supported
from China contributed to the principle of compliance. The PRC has delivered
equipment to these sectors on several occasions and the overall volume of
finance exceeded 85 million USD
between 2000 and 2014. In particular,
initiatives aimed at upgrading facilities utilized in media are worth mentioning.
Beijing also pays attention to projects that have been implemented decades
ago but are still a visible manifest of its engagement. One of the best-known
projects of this kind is clearly TAZARA. During the given time period, China
delivered 140 million USD
in support of the project, including the
2017) and “Chinese medical team conducts 1,500 surgeries”, in Zambia Daily Mail
Limited, April 29, 2017,
1500-surgeries/ (accessed: 20 October 2017).
To wit “Chinese Government to Donate Medical Equipment to Kitwe Hospital”, in
AllAfrica, 20 May 2005, (accessed 20
October 2017) and Davies M. M. Chanda, “China to Restock Levy Mwanawasa
Hospital”, AllAfrica, 23 January 2011,
(accessed 20 October 2017).
“Zambia Mobile Hospitals Service Chongwe Week Pictures”, ukzambians, 4 April 2011,
week-pictures/ (accessed 25 October 2017).
“Zambia, China Sign Three Economic Agreements”, in The Lusaka Times, 29 December
(accessed 25 October 2017).
“China commits $90 million to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital Expansion”, The Lusaka
Times, 31 March 2015,
levy-mwanawasa-hospital-expansion/ (accessed 25 October 2017).
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Zambia, “The China-Aided Agricultural
Technology Demonstration Centre in Zambia Commissioned”, 2011, (accessed
25 October 2017).
Figures are calculated based on the dataset provided by AidData available at: (accessed 25 October 2017).
Ruth Banda, “China Gives Country FM Transmitters”, in AllAfrica, 7 June 2001, (accessed 25 October 2017).
The overall figures of the projects related to TAZARA concern not only Zambia but also
financial support to Tanzania due to geographical characteristics of the facility. Amount
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
maintenance of TAZARA and transfer of equipment.
Significant financial
support of the railway seems to continue also after 2014.
The aforementioned projects can be seen as supporting the principle of the
innovation-led development. However, in other sectors, its compliance is very
limited or even absent. Rarely is it possible to come across a transfer of
knowledge element during the project construction, as it happened for instance
in 2011 when the PRC provided a team of experts that would train local
personnel on maintaining the newly constructed stadium in Ndola.
principle adherence also came into question due to the debatable quality of the
Chinese expertise. Complaints of this kind concerned the construction of a road
between Lusaka and Chirundu, which was damaged during the rainy season and
demanded further repairs. Moreover, the damage followed previous repairs
delivered by the Chinese company Heinan.
The damaged road also became
presented as a part of a narrative about harmful Chinese activities in Africa. As
reported by The Economist in 2011, “the Chinese-built road from Lusaka,
Zambia’s capital, to Chirundu in the south-east, was quickly swept away by
However, the reality significantly differed from the exaggerated report.
As noted in short article written by Bräutigam (2011)
and especially in
Bracht’s study (2012)
, the extent of the road damage was overstated by the
media, as it was not a 130-km part that was swept away, but just a small 100-
metre section of the road. Bracht offered the views of local experts who
calculated by the author based on the data provided by AidData, available at: (accessed: 25 October 2017).
Oseph Mwamunyange. “Tazara Gets $5 Million Worth of Equipment”, in Higbeam
Business, 2006,
5-million-worth-equipment (accessed 25 October 2017) and Ren Zhongxi, “Chinese Vice
President hands over new equipment to Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority”, in,
26 June 2014,
(accessed 25 October 2017).
“China to inject $ 376 million in Tazara”, in The Lusaka Times, 20 May 2016, (accessed 25 October
“China to Train Locals in Stadium Maintenance”, in AllAfrica, 20 August 2011, (accessed 25 October 2017).
“Rains Damage Lusaka Chirundu Road”, in The Lusaka Times, 20 March 2009, (accessed 25
October 2017).
“Trying to pull together”, The Economist, 20 April 2011, (accessed 25 October 2017).
Deborah Bräutigam, “Lusaka-Chirundu Road and Summer Research”, China Africa Real
Story, 25 April 2011,
summer.html (accessed 25 October 2017).
Gérard van Bracht, “A survey of Zambian views on Chinese People and their involvement
in Zambia. Centre for Chinese Studies”, African East-Asia Affairs, no 1, 2012, pp. 54–97.
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
similarly refused such criticism, pointing out that because of the heavy rains, the
damage to the road cannot be considered the fault of the Chinese contractor.
Additionally, further observance of the principle is - in the case of
Zambia - undermined by the situation in which the Chinese companies
implement the majority of the projects and inclusion of recipient’s firms seems
to be very limited. This can be applied especially to the most financially
demanding construction of economic infrastructure projects. The lack of
involvement of the domestic companies can also be demonstrated at one of the
most visible initiatives in Zambia Zambia-China Economic and Trade
Cooperation Zone (ZCCZ) constructed in Chambishi in 2007 and in East
Lusaka in 2009. The creation of special economic zones (SEZs) was crucial for
China’s domestic development and its early economic reforms implemented in
the late 1970s. The SEZs thus represent a feature of China’s development path
that is now exported to Africa.
However, considering the criteria of project
selection for this article, this initiative cannot be considered a part of the ODF-
like flows due to the way of financing SEZs’ implementation
, so even
AidData does not include the construction among the projects implemented
under the ODF-like flows. Nevertheless, it is still worth mentioning, as it shows
a problem: despite these zones being considered a huge opportunity for the
developing Zambian economy, they still lack local participation. This situation
has been caused by the attitude of the Zambian government, which only
preferred Chinese investments in the zones since the beginning of their
construction. Paradoxically, it was then the Chinese government persuaded the
Zambian authorities to open the zones to other investors, not only to the
Chinese ones.
By 2015, there were three Chinese SEZs in operation (Zambia, Egypt, Ethiopia) and four
more were still under construction. Carol Newman and John M. Page, “Industrial clusters:
The case for Special Economic Zones in Africa”, no. 2017/15, WIDER Working Paper,
2017, p. 20.
Brautigam and Xioyang explain financing of the zones as involvement of three parties:
Chinese developers, African governments and the Chinese government, where the
Chinese enterprises are the primary actors in the development stage. African governments
sometimes partner the Chinese firms but they do not play a direct role in developing the
pilot projects. The Chinese government provides various forms of support (e.g. financial
funding through loans and grants, material and networking support) to the Chinese
companies initiating these projects and who won the official tenders (Deborah Bräutigam
and Tang Xiaoyang, “African Shenzhen: China’s special economic zones in Africa”, The
Journal of Modern African Studies 49: 1, 2011, pp. 27-54).
“Zambia, China to sign a Tax Free Zone Deal”, in The Lusaka Times, 5 March 2008, (accessed
25 October 2017).
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Similarly, Christina Alves (2011)
mentions the obstacles for local
participation. What became the most serious issue was the lack of a regulatory
framework that would lead to the necessary acquisition of technology and
know-how and to the integration of domestic investors. It turned out, for
example, to be difficult for the domestic entrepreneurs to meet the requirements,
allowing them to provide investments in the zone reaching at least 500,000
USD. Another problem lies in the absence of regulations that would make
investors use local resources needed for their activities. Consequently, under
such circumstances, the Chinese investors managed to secure cheap material
supplies from China.
Based on the experience with the Zambian government’s attitude towards
participation of local investors in the SEZs, it can be stated that its support is
rather low. And although the SEZs are considered to be a huge opportunity to
develop local businesses, this opportunity is undermined by the lack of
commitment to create an environment that would support it. The case of the
SEZs in Zambia can illustrate a broader problem related to the will and interest
of the Zambian government to negotiate such deals of ODF-like projects, ones
that would result in a greater participation of local firms that otherwise remain
uninvolved in project implementation.
Social Development
The development finance provided by the PRC to Zambia in the period
under review includes the entire territory of the state. However, as can be clear
from the maps, the projects were primarily concentrated in the areas of mining
activities, in the Copperbelt Province (Figure 2) and Lusaka Province which are
areas the least affected by poverty (Figure 3). This concentration is further
emphasized when the data are reduced to the social infrastructure projects and
to population density in Zambia, showing the same trend in allocation into the
regions that are the most densely populated (Figure 4).
Ana Cristina Alves, “The Zambia–China Cooperation Zone at a Crossroads: What
Now?”, Policy Briefing 41, SAIIA, 2011,
zambia-china-cooperation-zone-at-a-crossroads-what-now (accessed 12 November 2017).
Ibidem, p. 4.
The same geographical bias is also discussed in the case of the regional concentration of
investments and migration from China (see e.g. Padraig Carmody and Godfrey
Hampwaye, “Inclusive or Exclusive Globalization?: Zambia's Economy and Asian
Investment”, Africa Today 56: 3, 2010, pp. 84-102.
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Figure 2: Allocation of the ODF-like projects according to distribution of minerals in Zambia
(2000 – 2014)
Figure 3: Allocation of the ODF-like projects according to poverty by region in Zambia (2000 –
Map created based on the data provided by AidData. The number “43” in the middle of
the map indicates projects that cannot be related to a specific location due to a lack of
information on their geographical distribution or their nature for which they cannot be
related to a specific area (e.g., debt relief). Source: AidData available at: dashboard.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Figure 4: Allocation of the ODF-like projects in social infrastructure sector with regard to
population density in Zambia (2000 – 2014)
Regardless of this regional concentration, there are a number of projects
supporting the social development principle. The support includes the frequent
expert assistance in the health sector and in the sector of education, providing
Zambian students with scholarships, and construction and reconstruction of
schools, university buildings and hospitals, that are projects that have been
mentioned within the previous principle.
Improvement of the living conditions
of the Zambians was also the purpose of a 10 million USD grant aimed at
The number “9” in the middle of the map indicates projects that cannot be related to a
specific location due to a lack of information on their geographical distribution or their
nature for which they cannot be related to a specific area (e.g., debt relief). Source:
AidData available at: dashboard.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, “Chinese Ambassador hands over the Lusaka
General Hospital to Zambia”, 2011,
665342/zwbd_665378/t847390.shtml (accessed 26 November 2017) and “China commits
$90 million to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital Expansion”, in The Lusaka Times, 31 March
hospital-expansion/ (accessed 26 November 2017).
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
enhancing the water supplies in Lusaka and other cities in 2006.
In 2014,
China likewise provided support to the Early Childhood Development Center,
where educational material and equipment was delivered and the access to clean
water was improved in the facility.
A relatively controversial project delivered by China concerns several
mobile hospitals. In 2011, Beijing supplied Zambia with nine cars constructed
as mobile medical facilities. This was the first project of its kind financed by a
Chinese loan, and it was assumed that if it became successful, it would be
implemented in other African countries as well. By 2012, these mobile facilities
provided healthcare to 175,000 people in the country.
The main purpose of the
projects was to provide healthcare even in remote areas in Zambia where the
access to medical facilities is otherwise limited. In this regard, the aim of the
initiative certainly adheres to the stated principle. However, the project has also
led to a wave of criticism, as it cost 53 million USD, and it is estimated that this
amount will be repaid by the Zambian government no sooner than in 40 years.
Apart from this, the project was also struggling with a lack of qualified staff for
the facilities as well as equipment.
Moreover, considering the quality of
Zambian roads, it is expected that the vehicles will not be able to function for a
long time, and therefore it would have been more reasonable to invest in the
construction of permanent medical facilities. Some criticism also targeted the
absence of consultations between the parliament and president Banda,
suggesting that the initiative could have been just a strategy of the president to
buy some votes in rural areas before elections.
In the sector of communication, projects that have a potential to reach
remote areas of the country can be also mentioned. The most financially
demanding project in this sector was implemented in 2010 and included the
delivery of 5,300 km of optical network linking the rural areas of the country
and the neighboring states of Namibia and Tanzania. In 2013, the project was
“China-Zambia ties cemented through assistance, investment”, in Xinhuanet, 2 March
2007, (accessed 26
November 2017).
Embassy of the PRC in the Republic of Zambia, “Remarks at the Handover Ceremony of
China's Assistance to the Ng'ombe ECD Center”, 2014,
eng/sgxxx/dsjh/t1213600.htm (accessed 26 November 2017).
“Mobile Hospitals Deliver Care to 175 000 Patients with 20 000 Successfull Operations
accross Rural Zambia”, in The Lusaka Times, 16 December 2012,
operations-rural-zambia/ (accessed 26 November 2017).
“Each Mobile hospital to gobble K450m per trip on allowances”, in Zambian Watchdog, 1
May 2011,
allowances/ (accessed 26 November 2017).
Henry KYAMBALESA, “The Saga of Mobile Hospitals”, in The Lusaka Times, 29 July
2010, (accessed 26 November
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
further expanded to 6,300 km. Its aim is to improve the efficiency and reliability
of the nationwide power network management.
Among other projects supporting the principle of social development, it is
possible to mention the construction of sport facilities. In 2010, the PRC
provided a grant of 10 million USD for the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium
construction in the Copperbelt Province in Ndola.
Two stadiums (the Heroes
National Stadium and the Independence Stadium), both in Lusaka, were also
built with China’s assistance.
During their construction, however, it was
possible to notice some criticism from the Zambian Minister of Labour, as
construction deficiencies had been discovered before the stadiums were opened
to public. This criticism concerned emerging cracks in walls and poorly
accessible emergency exit routes that were marked in the Chinese language.
In addition to the above mentioned projects, it is also possible to come
across financial flows that were by their very purpose aimed at poverty
alleviation in Zambia. In 2011, the Chinese government provided over 14
million USD that were supposed to be used in the fight against poverty,
however, it was not specified what projects or initiatives were included.
in 2012, another loan was delivered for poverty reduction in the country.
A lot of initiatives financially supported by Beijing have the potential to
back up the adherence of one of the principles indirectly. Between 2000 and
2014, China has provided financial and material support for construction of
several power plants in Zambia. The energy sector is the area of cooperation
that includes the most financially demanding projects and the overall amount of
finance reached almost 3 billion USD. The majority of projects has been
delivered to regions south from Lusaka, where a lot of attention has been paid to
the Kafue Gorge Hydro Power Plant that was supported by Beijing financially
and materially in order to expand the facility to meet the growing demand for
“Zesco Launches Fibre Project Phase Two Extension”, in Biztech Africa, 22 February 2013,
#.VUZMcSHtmko (accessed 26 November 2017).
“Zambia Gets 1 Billion Loan from China”, in The Lusaka Times, 3 November 2010, (accessed 26
November 2017).
“New Independence Stadium construction to begin soon”, in The Lusaka Times, 27
December 2010,
(accessed 26 November 2017).
“Heroes Stadium Not Ready Yet”, in Lusaka Voice, 2 July 2014,
/2014/02/07/heroes-stadium-not-ready-yet/ (accessed 26 November 2017).
Ellias Mbao, “China gives $14.7m to Zambia”, in Africa Review, 12 December 2011,
/index.html (accessed 26 November 2017).
“Former Finance Minister cautions government debt”, in Ukzambians, 1 January 2013,
debt/ (accessed 26 November 2017).
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
electricity in Zambia.
Similarly, in 2007, the Chinese company Sino Hydro
agreed to provide a loan to expand and upgrade the Kariba North Bank power
More recently, in 2014, the Zambian government signed a 41 million
USD concessional loan for the construction of a 120 km transmission line
between Kariba North Bank and Kafue West to boost the power output. The
project was designed to transmit the additional electricity at the Kariba North
Bank to the Lusaka power grid and consequently, it was expected that the
population in Lusaka and beyond would have to deal with much fewer power
In 2010, the construction of the Lunzua Power Station commenced to
deliver power to the surrounding areas and due to its location in the eastern part
of country, also to export electricity to the neighboring Tanzania.
Besides the
proclaimed endeavors to cover the Zambians’ growing demand for electricity,
the mining interests of the Chinese investors can also explain this focus on
power plants construction in Zambia. As reported in an article published in the
Lusaka Times, the main purpose of the power plants projects was to deliver
power to the mining companies operating in Zambia that consumed 40% of the
total electricity generated per day.
Besides the geographical bias of projects allocation, the potential
adherence to the social development principle of the PRC’s projects in Zambia
is, as mentioned above, undermined by the fact that the contractors of the
official development projects are mainly Chinese enterprises and Zambian
companies are involved in the implementation only to a very small extent. At
the same time, severe criticism also concerned the conditions prevailing at the
working sites of some Chinese companies. However, it must be emphasized that
such criticism was related to the Chinese activities that cannot be included
among the ODF-like projects. These complaints, both domestic and
international, mainly concerned the working conditions in the mining industry.
Nevertheless, although categorized out of the ODF-like flows, these negatively
“Zambia seeks engineering, transaction aid for 750-MW Kafue Gorge Lower hydro
development project”, in, 2013,
03/zambia-seeks-engineering--transaction-aid-for-750-mw-kafue-gorge.html (accessed:
28 November 2017).
“Zambia seeks to upgrade Kariba North Bank power plant”, in The Lusaka Times, 26
November 2011,
bank-power-plant/ (accessed 28 November 2017).
“Zambia signs a $41 million dollars loan from china repayable in 20 years”, in The
Lusaka Times, 13 May 2014,
million-dollars-loan-china-repayable-20-years/ (accessed 28 November 2017).
“China to fund Lunzua power”, in Zambia Online, 9 October 2010, (accessed 28
November 2017).
“Zambia seeks to upgrade Kariba North Bank power plant”, in The Lusaka Times, 26
November 2011,
bank-power-plant/ (accessed 28 November 2017).
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
perceived activities had a significant impact even on China’s provision of its
official grants and loans to Zambia as discussed further below in the text.
Sustainable development
The observance of this principle through project implementation can be
noticed only since 2014. In 2014, Beijing cooperated with the UNDP and the
Danish government on implementation of a project with the purpose of
increasing access to electricity for rural population through utilizing solar and
wind energy. Considering the focus of the project on the use of renewable
resources of energy, it indirectly supports other socio-economic and
environmental objectives, such as poverty reduction and climate change-related
activities and adaptation to it.
The negative impact on the environment was not discussed in any of the
ODF-like projects implemented by China. However, China’s mining activities
led to some debate on the potential of environmentally negative impact of this
kind of engagement. The concerns were related to the Chinese investments in
mining, hydropower, roads, and smelters. Some local environmental NGOs
accused the Chinese mining companies of serious pollution of air, water, and
land, or damaging wildlife habitat and displacing local communities without
adequate compensation.
The situation has substantially improved in the recent
years, which is given by constructive dialogues and steps taken by both the
Zambian government and the Chinese investors. The Zambian government has
introduced measures to strengthen the country’s environmental laws, thus since
2007, it has been possible to observe some enhancement of the monitoring and
enforcement capacity of the local environmental agencies through increased
funding, revisited environmental regulations, promoted coordination among
relevant agencies, and increased fines for polluters. Moreover, in 2011, Zambia
Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the public body entrusted with
the enforcement of local environmental regulations, was created. In 2015, the
Mines and Mineral Development Act was introduced, forcing mining
companies to become accountable to government and local communities for
UNDP, “Landmark Project Launched to Promote Renewable Energy Technology Transfer
from China to Zambia,” 2014,
pressreleases/2014/09/23/landmark-project-launched-to promote-renewable-energy-
technology-transfer-from-china-to-zambia-.html (accessed 8 December 2017).
Beyongo Mukete Dynamic, “China’s Environmental Footprint: The Zambian Example”,
in The China Story, 2017,
diasporic-dilemmas/chinas-environmental-footprint-the-zambian-example/ (accessed 8
December 2017).
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
their actions that affect the environment.
With these regulations in place, the
Zambian government has been able to suspend the mining operations of some
Chinese companies, and others were forced to improve their environmental
standards and offer compensations for their failures to the affected communities.
The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the recipient
state and its observance cannot be considered adhered to in the case of Zambia.
Its breach is linked to the politicization of activities of the Chinese investors,
especially of mining enterprises, and the rise of anti-Chinese populism in the
country since 2006.
The wave of anti-Chinese populism was fuelled by
frequent criticism of working conditions in the mines as well as series of
accidents caused by safety failures on the working sites.
The negative
perception of the Chinese engagement increased together with several incidents
between the Chinese management and the Zambian workforce that resulted in
threats, injuries and even death of several workers and managers in some
mining facilities.
“ZEMA stops NFCA from mining in Chambishi”, in The Lusaka Times, 12 April 2013, (accessed 8
December 2017) and “NFCA Chambishi mine sets aside 100 million USD for SEOB
report”, in Mining News Zambia, 27 February 2014,
chambishi-mine-sets-aside-us100-million-for-seob-report/, (accessed 8 December 2017).
Hess and Aidoo point out that Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front party were using the
issue of foreign country and its manifestations in Zambia as a unifying target serving to
get supporters for Sata as a presidential candidate in the regions that were otherwise
divided ethnically and along the urban/rural lines, and dominated by supporters of the
ruling party Movement for Multiparty Democracy and president Banda. The Chinese
engagement in Zambia thus became a central point of Sata’s program (Steve Hess and
Richard Aidoo, “Charting the roots of anti-Chinese populism in Africa: A comparison of
Zambia and Ghana”, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 49: 2, 2014, pp. 129-147).
“China’s Footprint Grows in Zambia”, in Lusaka Voice, 11 April 2013, (accessed 8 December
In 2005, nearly 50 Zambian workers died in a factory owned by the Chinese China
Nonferrous Metal Mining Corporation producing explosives for mining in the Chambishi
mine in Coppoerbelt. The cause of this explosion was basically non-existent safety
standards at the workplace (Human Rights Watch, “You’ll Be Fired if You Refuse” Labor
Abuses in Zambia’s Chinese State-owned Copper Mines, 2011,
default/files/reports/zambia1111ForWebUpload.pdf (accessed 8 December 2017)).
Robyn Dixon, “Africans Lash Out at Chinese Employers”, in Los Angeles Times, 6
October 2006, (accessed 8
December 2017). See also These violent tragic incidents concerned for instance China
Nonferrous Metal Mining Corporation (CNMC), where six workers were killed in 2006
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Michael Sata and the Patriotic Front (PF) based their campaigns on anti-
Chinese rhetoric fueled by growing negative sentiment towards the Chinese and
their investments in the country. China was presented by Sata as exploitive
power, bringing nothing good to Zambia. In 2007, Sata even claimed that the
former colonial rule was better than the Chinese presence, as the British at least
brought education and civilisation to the country.
This very campaign and
Sata’s xenophobic rhetoric threatening to expel the Chinese, Lebanese and
Indian traders, and to establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan, resulted in a
warning from Beijing to cut diplomatic relations if Sata was elected as a
president in the upcoming election.
The provision of official development
financing by Beijing was therefore conditioned by who the winner of the 2006
election would be. Since Michael Sata did not win in 2006, and Levy
Mwanawasa defended the presidential post, the diplomatic relations were not
interrupted. After the 2006 election, Beijing forced the Chinese enterprises to
ameliorate the working conditions and to start working on improving the overall
perception of the Chinese in Zambia.
Another possible breach of a principle was also discussed during the
election in 2011. In that year, China was suspected of financially supporting the
incumbent presidential candidate Rupiah Banda and his party the Movement for
Multiparty Democracy (MMD), whose opponent was again Sata. The suspicion
was about the scale of the MMD campaign, subsequently raising questions
about the funding sources, as the party's financing was too opaque. All the
allegations were played down by MMD’s representatives, so the principle’s
violation in this instance cannot be confirmed.
(Human Rights Watch, “You’ll Be Fired if…cit”, p. 22). In this regard, the Collum Coal
Mine (CCM) located in Sinazongwe, south of Lusaka, became especially troublesome. In
October 2010, workers were protesting to get better wages and the Chinese management
of CCM resolved the situation by shooting into the crowd and killing 11 Zambians.
Moreover, after the shooting, there was no one convicted, which led to violent protests in
the country (Ibidem, p. 23). In the same year in CCM, a Chinese supervisor was murdered
by a Zambian worker later sentenced to death (“Miner gets death sentence for murdering
Chinese boss”, in The Lusaka Times, 31 December 2010,
(accessed 8 December 2017)). In 2012, a Chinese senior worker was murdered for wage
disputes by a Zambian (“Zambian miners kill Chinese supervisor over pay”, in Zambia
Watchdog, 5 August 2012,
supervisor-over-pay/ (accessed 8 December 2017)).
“Not Bad as They Say” The Economist, October 1, 2011, (accessed: 8 December 2017).
“Taiwan Quick Take: China warns Zambia”, Taipei Times, June 9, 2006, 09/06/2003326389 (accessed: 8
December 2017).
Louise Redvers, “China's stake in Zambia's election”, in BBC, 19 September 2011, (accessed: 10 December 2017).
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Based on the above mentioned information, it can be said that the
principle of non-interference was not adhered to in case of Zambia. It was
clearly violated by the rhetoric on conditioning the Chinese finance with the
results of the presidential election in 2006. Despite the debate that emerged on
China’s interference also in the 2011 election, the 2006 instance remains the
only clear case when such a violation was confirmed. Although such possible
breach has also been discussed on other occasions in other countries in
the Zambian case still remains the only officially acknowledged
instance of such interference on the continent.
During the period under review, Beijing has provided 44 million USD to
support the Zambian government and civil society sector through ODF-like
financed projects.
Among projects that supported this principle by their very
purpose, it is possible to mention the construction of the Lusaka government
complex in 2002, and then its expansion in 2009.
The support of the sector
focused especially on equipment delivery. Thus, in 2003, it was possible to
trace transfer of materials and equipment to the police
and the government.
In 2011, nine government cars were delivered for Banda’s administration.
However, this project was perceived as a rather controversial one, since it was
found that this material assistance for president’s cabinet was used by
businessmen affiliated with the family members of Banda and their
In relation to the controversies, Banda was later arrested and
investigated for this misconduct in the office.
Similarly, in 2012, China
See e.g. Iva Sojková, “The Beijing Consensus: Characteristics of China’s…cit.”, pp. 126-127.
The amount was counted based on data provided by AidData available at: (accessed: 9 October 2017).
“China Zambia k24 bn Concessional Loan”, in The Lusaka Times, 26 July 2010, (accessed 10
December 2017).
“China Donates Raincoats and Computers to Zambia Police”, in, 13
September 2003, (accessed 10
December 2017).
“China Donates Computers to Zambia”, in, 30 August 2003, (accessed 10 December 2017).
“Reality Replaces Sata’s Rhetoric”, in Africa Confidential, 2 May 2013,
s_rhetoric (accessed 10 December 2017).
“Sogecoa Confirms Donating 9 Vehicles to State House under Rupiah. Zambian News
network”, in Zambia News Network, 17 April 2013,
sogecoa-confirms-donating-9-vehicles-to-state-house-under-rupiah-2/ (accessed 10
December 2017).
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
donated 65 motor vehicles to the Zambian government.
A year later, China
provided the Zambian police with 25 new cars to improve its operations.
2006, Beijing donated a “batch of goods” to the Zambian government that was
worth about 1.2 million USD to be used in the election later that year.
However, more specific information regarding this delivery is missing and
considering the perception of China’s possible interests in the results of the
election, its potential to support stability in Zambia can be questioned.
Despite the presence of projects delivered within China’s ODF-like
flows, China’s presence in Zambia can also be characterized with a number of
destabilizing elements, as already discussed above. One of these stability
undermining features became the growth of Zambia’s debt. From 2000 to 2014,
Beijing provided more than 5.4 billion USD and from this amount, 400 million
were in the form of debt relief. The largest amount was written off the country’s
debt in 2006, immediately after Rupiah Banda, the incumbent pro-China
candidate, won the presidential election.
However, despite the substantial
debt cancellation initiatives, it must be mentioned that out of all the ODF-like
financial flows delivered by China, projects that have been provided in the form
of a grant and thus without increasing Zambia’s debt burden only exceeded 300
million USD. In other words, these grants together with debt relief actions
accounted only for around 14% of the ODF-like finance, the majority of ODF-
like flows - the remaining 4.7 billion USD - is thus expected to be repaid by
The rapidly growing debt burden of the country has already come to
the attention of the International Monetary Fund, which has been refusing to
provide the Zambian government with further loans, worrying about its debt
management and stable economic development.
Apart from the disturbingly growing debt, there were other features and
activities potentially undercutting the adherence to the principle. The
“China Donates 65 Vehicles”, in Times of Zambia, 13 April 2012, (accessed 10 December 2017).
“China donates cars and buses to Zambia”, in Ukzambians, 23 June 2013,
(accessed 10 December 2017).
“China Donates US$1 Mln to Drought-hit Zambia”, in, 10 February 2006, (accessed 18 December 2017).
Madison Condon, “China in Africa: What the Policy of Nonintervention Adds to the
Western Development Dilemma”, The Fletcher Journal of Human Security 27, 2012, p.
10, (accessed 13 March
Amounts counted based on data provided by AidData available at: (accessed: 9 October 2017).
Onur Ant and Matthew Hill, “Debt Management Should Be Priority for Zambia, Kalyalya
Says”, in Bloomberg, 10 December 2017,
12/debt-management-should-be-priority-for-zambia-kalyalya-says (accessed 18
December 2017).
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
persistently bad working conditions and violent resolving of these problems led
to protests in the Chinese enterprises and to subsequent politicization of China’s
engagement in the country since 2006. In this context, however, it has been
questioned whether the Chinese presence in Zambia is really seen as negatively
among the Zambians as it has been presented in the media, the speeches of
politicians or in the reports of international organizations. Some experts dealing
with the Chinese presence in Zambia disagree with such demonizing
conclusions and draw attention to the shortcomings and biases in the data
collection of these interpretations of China’s presence in Zambia and therefore
also question its destabilizing influence.
What is worth mentioning in this regard is the work of Gérard van Bracht
and the series of articles written by Sautman and Hairong.
All the
studies strongly criticized the Human Rights Watch report published in 2011,
which investigated bad working conditions in China’s enterprise China
Nonferrous Metal Mining group (CNMC). Bracht presented a field research on
the perception of China and the Chinese among the Zambians and came to the
conclusion that it is incorrect to assume that, in general, the Zambians do not
like China. In Zambia, the contribution of the Chinese and their companies was
also appreciated and perceived positively by local societies, the view of the
Chinese presented in media can be thus misleading.
Bracht also concludes
that the Zambians made the most positive associations with development
finance China has delivered, especially its support of healthcare. Overall,
Chinese projects were perceived as being particularly beneficial for creating
new jobs. On the contrary, the most negative associations with the Chinese
presence was related to the working conditions. In this regard, it referred to low
wages and to physical abuse of workers and tragic incidents that occurred at the
Additionally, there appeared to be a substantial difference among
the respondents, as the negative criticism came mainly from low-skilled and
low-paid labour expressing lack of respect from the Chinese and reporting
higher levels of threat coming from the Chinese presence. In contrast to this
perception, better qualified and educated employees saw the situation
Gérard van Bracht, “A survey of Zambian views on Chinese People and their involvement
in Zambia. Centre for Chinese Studies”, African East-Asia Affairs, 1, 2012, pp. 54–97.
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong, “Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Human Rights Watch
and Chinese Copper Mining in Zambia”, Pambazuka News, 14 December 2011, (accessed 18 December 2017);
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong, “The beginning of a world empire? Contesting the
discourse of Chinese copper mining in Zambia”, Modern China 39: 2, 2013, pp. 131-164;
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong, “Bashing ‘the Chinese’: contextualizing Zambia's
Collum Coal Mine shooting”, Journal of Contemporary China 23: 90, 2014, pp. 1073-
Gérard van Bracht, “A survey of Zambian…cit”, pp. 72–87.
Ibidem, pp. 67.
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
differently, rather beneficially, and even shared their employers’ views about
paying lower wages to unqualified workers, which were in their opinion
appropriate for their work and qualification.
The negative perception of China’s engagement contributed to instability
in Zambia, as it led to the outbreak of post-election violence against the Chinese
entrepreneurs in 2006
and in 2007 to the cancellation of a planned visit of
Chambishi by the Chinese president because of security risks.
However, it
became debatable what actually contributed to such an instability, if it was the
real negative influence and impact of the Chinese engagement, or the way it was
presented and exaggerated in the media and in Sata’s campaign. Sautman and
Hairong pointed out that working conditions in the Chinese working sites were
not significantly worse compared to other foreign investors underlining
substantial weaknesses of the above-mentioned Human Rights Watch report
published on working conditions in China’s run CNMC referring to it as the
“the biggest violator of workers’ rights among Zambian copper industry
According to these researchers, the report is biased and with
methodological deficiencies and consequently it says more about the Human
Rights Watch policy agenda than about the Chinese activities in Africa.
comparing China and other investors in the mining sector in Zambia, they
questioned the claims of this report and concluded that the security situation at
the Chinese investors’ workplaces was not worse than elsewhere. Salary
conditions have not only improved considerably in the CNMC run enterprises,
but the differences in salaries of laborers were basically non-existent.
Ibidem, pp. 79.
David Blair, “Rioters Attack Chinese after Zambian Poll”, in The Telegraph, 3 October
Zambian-poll.html (accessed 18 December 2017).
“China Launches Mining Program in Zambia”, in The Lusaka Times, 2 May 2007, (accessed
18 December 2017).
Human Rights Watch, “You’ll Be Fired if You Refuse” Labor Abuses in Zambia’s
Chinese State-owned Copper Mines, 2011, pp. 22,
files/reports/zambia1111ForWebUpload.pdf (accessed 8 December 2017).
Barry Sautman and Yan Hairong, “The beginning of a world empire?...cit.”, pp. 137-149.
Regarding the wage gap differences between CNMC and other foreign mining firms in
Zambia, Sautman and Hairong offer other important and Zambia-specific explanation for
such a situation. For example, when purchased, the CNMC mine in Chambishi had to
undergo a costly rehabilitation because it had not been in operation for 13 years and was
flooded. There are also differences in mining modalities among investors in Zambia. In
this regard, Chinese CNMC operates in deep underground mines, with lower copper
content and at the same time the mine is labour-intensive, consequently leading to lower
earnings. Another issue is the fact that unlike other investors, the Chinese ones kept
investing in Zambia during the financial crisis and China’s CNMC also committed itself
to the so-called “three nots”: not to reduce investment, not to cut down on production and
not to lay off workers. Moreover, in addition to the HRW’s reference to China as a “bad
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
Additionally, such conclusions and criticism towards the Human Rights Watch
bias were also shared in the statements of the Mineworkers Union of Zambia
(MUZ), similarly rejecting to single out the Chinese run enterprises as the worst
employers in Zambia.
The aim of the article was to examine the observance of the Beijing
Consensus principles in the case of Zambia in the time period of 2000 – 2014. It
can be concluded that when limited to the purpose of delivered finance and
projects, all the principles were adhered to except for the non-interference
principle. This principle was clearly breached at least once during the 2006
election by conditioning China’s future engagement in the country, and thus
also its development finance delivery, with the winner of the election.
Moreover, adherence to other principles was at the same time undermined by
the process of their implementation and allocation. At certain times, their
quality and price were also questioned, and similarly, some by-product activities
and interests in the country not directly related to China’s ODF-like flows also
substantially contributed to these undercutting features.
In the case of the innovation-led development principle, its adherence was
undermined by a lack of knowledge transfer element in the Chinese
development initiatives unless these initiatives were focused on the support of
this area directly. It was also further undercut by the absence of local enterprises
participating in the implementation of Beijing’s funded development projects.
Similarly, the social development principle was undercut by a strong
geographical bias in the projects’ allocation throughout the country, thus, the
majority of initiatives financed by Beijing was supporting Chinese investments
and not reaching the poorest areas in Zambia. Moreover, this bias is also evident
when the overall ODF-like flows are reduced to the projects implemented in the
social infrastructure sector. This principle was also challenged by some by-
product activities and their negative impact on living conditions in Zambia,
employer”, when the Swiss company closed its Luanshya mine at the time of the crisis, it
was the Chinese CNMC that bought it and re-hired its employees and employed hundreds
more. Similarly, when the nickel mining firm Albidon Ltd., with the Chinese enterprise
owning 51% of its shares, indefinitely suspended operations due to a decline in nickel
prices and technical problems, it continued to pay full salaries to its 2,000 employees
despite the difficulties it was facing (Barry SAUTMAN, Yan HAIRONG, “Barking Up
the Wrong…”).
“Mineworkers Union of Zambia refuse to entirely blame the Chinese-owned mining firms
over the ‘flouting’ of labour laws”, in The Lusaka Times, 11 May 2011,
chineseowned-mining-firms-flouting-labour-laws/ (accessed 8 December 2017).
China’s Official Development Finance Flows in Zambia under the Beijing Consensus
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
such as - for instance - the broadly criticised working conditions and violent
incidents in Chinese mining facilities.
The principle of sustainable development and its adherence was
supported only by one project co-implemented by China in 2014. Again, more
attention regarding this principle was paid to the Chinese mining activities and
their harmful impact on the environment. The extent to which China supports
the principle adherence through its ODF-like projects also demonstrates that the
support of the principles differs substantially.
The principle of stability can also be considered adhered to when limited
to the purpose of the projects provided into areas directly supporting steady
environment. In this case, however, there were also some projects and initiatives
which could be considered to be weakening the principle’s adherence. Some
projects delivered by Beijing were perceived as supporting the government
during elections and consequently led to criticism of China’s influence on
Zambian politics in order to pursue its own interests rather than sustaining
stability in the country. Likewise, due to increasing financial flows provided by
China, the Zambian debt has increased substantially since 2000, as only a small
part of the finance has been delivered as a grant. The debt burden has already
led to the worries of the international financial institutions about its possible
impact on Zambia’s economy. Additionally, even in this case, there were some
not ODF-like flows related elements of China’s engagement that have
contributed to serious weakening of the security situation in Zambia through the
increase of protests and violent attacks on Chinese citizens. However, it can be
discussed to what extent the protests and anti-Chinese sentiment among the
Zambians were caused by characteristics of China’s engagement or by the way
they were presented in the media and in the campaign of Michael Sata.
What does the Zambian case examined in this paper tell us about the
Beijing Consensus?
Although the principles based on Ramos’s concept are applicable and
their adherence is traceable in Zambia, the case also shows us the limits of
development potential of China’s development financing and its own
development experience. Indeed, as some critiques of the concept put it, some
of the principles of the model should be perceived as something that Beijing
wants its development strategy to achieve in the future. In this respect, also the
Zambian case shows us that the Beijing Consensus remains in many regards an
aspiration rather than today’s reality. This is mainly evident from the
differences of the attention paid to particular principles through ODF-like
projects delivery, as for instance within the principle of sustainable
development, only one project has been delivered in 15 years. Likewise, the
equality of the development can be at least questioned due to a strong
geographical bias of the projects’ allocation favouring two regions over the rest
of the country. Moreover, the case underlines that together with some
Romanian Political Science Review vol. XVIII no. 1 2018
development supporting characteristics stemming from China’s model of
development, other specifics of the development experience also emerge, ones
that might be undermining unless they are addressed and regulated by the
recipient. The principles of innovation-led development and social development
emphasized the limited interest in securing more benefits from the financing
delivered through adopting regulations and negotiating agreements that would
have allowed for a greater inclusion and participation of the local businesses
and their subsequent development. This disinterest seems to come from both
sides. At the same time, however, it can be stated that the negative impact of
China’s presence, whether real or invented by the media and politicians, can
force the recipient to adopt some important regulations in certain areas (e.g.
mining sector, protection of environment) that otherwise would not be adopted,
or, at least, not that quickly and to such an extent. In this regard, it is important
to underline that the Beijing Consensus, unlike the Washington Consensus, is a
passive model and thus it does not force the recipient to adopt some policies to
reach the loans and grants, although in Zambia, this approach was once
breached. As an implication of this opportunity, there is more space to
maneuver for the recipient and consequently also more responsibility to take
when negotiating agreements, so they would benefit recipient’s own citizens
and development agenda. Therefore, it is more than ever up to recipients’
governments to make use of these ties to meet their own development goals.
However, to fully understand the true alternativeness the model is bringing to
the African continent, more cases and comparisons to traditional donor’s
financial flows are needed in the future research.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
“We feed them, provide them with income, and still they are not happy... We provide loans, we donate… We helped many countries, but even these countries are complaining about the Chinese government ... We help, we pay, they have no gratitude... Not just Zambia, the world is complaining about China, and China is complaining about the world. I don't know why.”1 –Senior spokesperson of large state-owned Chinese construction company, Lusaka
The 2010 shooting of 13 miners at Zambia's small, privately-owned ‘Chinese’ Collum Coal Mine (CCM) has been represented by Western and Zambian politicians and media as exemplifying the ‘neo-colonial’ and ‘amoral’ practices of ‘China’ and ‘the Chinese’ in Africa. CCM has been used to provide a sharp contrast to the supposed ways of the Western firms that own most of Zambia's mines. Embedded in racial hierarchy and notions of strategic competition between the West and China, the discourse of the CCM shootings further shapes conceptions of global China and Chinese overseas. While examining all the oppressive conditions that have given rise to protest at the mine, we contextualize the shooting and subsequent conflicts. In analyzing CCM's marginal and troubled development, we discuss aspects of the 2010 shooting incident known to miners and union leaders, but ignored by politicians and media. We look at the shooting's political fallout, focus also on the epilogue that was the 2012 CCM riot—in which one Chinese person was murdered and several others seriously injured—and trace the sometimes violent discontent manifested at other foreign-owned mines in Zambia since their privatization in the late 1990s. The empirical data for this detailed study derive from hundreds of documentary sources and interviews with union leaders, workers, officials and others in Zambia from 2011 to 2013.
C hinese investment activity in Africa has skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing every other nation except South Africa. China finances more infrastructure projects in Africa than the World Bank and provides billions of dollars in low-interest loans to the continent's emerging economies. These loans and investments are typically made in exchange for securing access to natural resources. Based on its principles of nonintervention and respect for sovereignty, China gives this money with little or no strings attached. The West, which typically conditions its loans on initiatives like democracy promotion and corruption reduction, has labeled China a "rogue donor," whose actions will be damaging to Africa in the long run. However, Western aid approaches like conditionality have largely been development failures. The Chinese model, with no colonial past or explicit political agenda, is a legitimate challenger to the Western aid status-quo. China is merely the largest and first leader of a growing cohort of developing countries interested in Africa's commodities. These new investors have the option to adopt wholly China's unconditioned approach or a more responsible engagement strategy. What all players are beginning to realize is that ultimately Africans themselves must decide what form they want this increased investment attention to take.
A discourse fostered by Western politicians and media of Chinese copper mining in Zambia has been central to global discussions of China-in-Africa since the mid-2000s. Based in the West’s putative strategic rivalry with China, the discourse also invokes racial stereotypes about Chinese cruelty and disregard for human life. Focusing on Human Rights Watch’s 2011 attempt to prove China’s firms to be Zambian copper mining’s “worst employers,” we show that the discourse is highly inaccurate: methodological mistakes compound elementary empirical errors, even as the politics of the discourse serve up a synecdoche for the global rise of a monolithic China.
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China gives $14.7m to Zambia
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Debt Management Should Be Priority for Zambia, Kalyalya Says
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