As the largest copper producing country in Africa – some $2 billion worth by the end of 2010 – Zambia is more than just another landlocked African country to the People’s Republic of China, a country whose ongoing economic expansion have made it the world’s largest copper consumer. Sata’s victory has been seen by many as a sign of growing disaffection among Zambian voters who felt that Zambia was not getting a fair share of the mineral deals signed by previous Zambian governments. Some business leaders here fretted that Sata’s rhetoric might scare off foreign investment. But for now, the general mood is one of rapprochement, with Sata voicing moderation and Chinese investors promising good corporate behavior.
Soon after Sata’s victory, China’s new ambassador to Zambia, Zhou Yuxiao, was the first to pay Sata a congratulatory visit, and Chinese President Hu Jintao has issued Sata an invitation for a state visit to Beijing.
Investors won’t leave Zambia, says Lusaka-based economic consultant Bob Sichinga, because, frankly, the demand for copper and other minerals is great enough that mining companies have plenty of profit margin to spare.