Africa-China Relations: Causes of Tension and Possible Peace Pathways—A Case Study of Zambia | Wilson Center
6th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Africa-China Relations: Causes of Tension and Possible Peace Pathways—A Case Study of Zambia

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

Please join the Wilson Center Africa Program for a discussion on “Africa-China Relations: Causes of Tension and Possible Peace Pathways—A Case Study of Zambia” on Wednesday, October 16 from 10:30 am-12:00 pm in the Wilson Center’s 6th Floor Auditorium.

While much has been written and discussed about China-Africa relations at the state level, attention is only now turning to China-Africa relations at the sub-national level. This is as the number of Chinese migrants to Africa is estimated to have risen from 160,000 in 1996 to 1.1 million in 2012. This event will look at Africa-China relations at the state and non-state levels, with a focus on sub-national relations in Zambia.

Zambia and China have a longstanding official state-to-state relationship dating back to Zambia’s independence in 1964. In recent years, the relationship has come under scrutiny with Zambia’s increasing dependence on Chinese debt, increased Chinese migration to Zambia, and lackluster Zambian economic performance. Zambians have sometimes viewed the Chinese presence in Zambia negatively—particularly as it relates to Chinese engagement in Zambia’s economy. A growing popular image of China and Chinese citizens as exploitative employers and economic usurpers has led to increasing resentment and tensions. There is fear of a growing disconnect between the steady and cordial state-to-state official relations and the rising tension between Chinese migrants and Zambian citizens.

Speakers will address the evolving nature of Africa-China relations more generally while also looking beyond state-level relations to unpack the growing migration of Chinese citizens to Africa and assess the tone and touch-points of the evolving relationship between Chinese migrants and African citizens. The event will also feature a case study of the dynamics of Zambian-Chinese relationships at the citizen-level, the growing tensions within that relationship, and policy options for addressing the evolving relationship at both the state and non-state levels. 

The SVNP is a continent-wide network of African policy, research and academic organizations that works with the Wilson Center’s Africa Program to bring African knowledge and perspectives to U.S., African, and international policy on peacebuilding in Africa. Established in 2011 and supported by the generous financial support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the project provides avenues for African researchers and practitioners to engage with and exchange analyses and perspectives with U.S., African, and international policymakers in order to develop the most appropriate, cohesive, and inclusive policy frameworks and approaches to achieving sustainable peace in Africa.




  • Emmanuel Matambo

    Southern Voices Network for Peacebuilding Scholar
    Postdoctoral Fellow, College of Humanities, Department of Political Science, University of KwaZulu-Natal (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
  • Yoon Jung Park

    Associate Director, China Africa Research Initiative (CARI), The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University
  • Patrick Quirk

    Senior Director, Center for Global Impact, International Republican Institute (IRI)