Following the killing of a Chinese manager at the Maamba Collum coal mine during a labour riot this past weekend, Beijing’s Ambassador to Zambia Zhou Yuxiao has voiced his concern that relations between the two countries may be at risk.
Ambassador Zhou commented that Chinese investors were shocked and frightened by the gruesome murder of 50-year-old manager Wu Shengzai, who was killed by workers rioting over wages. Recently the government ordered a steep increase in minimum wages without consultation with businesses, and many operations have found themselves unable to pay for the increases without passing the costs along.
Speaking when he visited two of the Chinese managers who are admitted at Levy Mwanawasa hospital after they sustained serious injuries from the Fracas, Yuxiao said the incident was a serious tragedy.
He said the investors have since called on him to engage the Zambian government and discuss the necessary steps to resolve the matter.
“The Chinese investors in the country are very frightened. I am going to meet them this evening so that I can console them and to chart the way forward,” he said. “This is a very serious tragedy which should be condemned because it will create fearful relations between us (Zambia and China). I hope that the people who did these atrocities will be punished according to the law,” he said.
Yuxiao said China had done a lot for Zambia as a demonstration of the good relations that exist between the two countries.
He urged the Zambian government to take action that would build confidence and safety among Chinese investors.
“While advising the Chinese business people to abide by the laws and regulations of the land, we equally ask the relevant Zambian government authorities to take concrete measures to protect the safety and security and the legitimate rights of the Chinese business community in Zambia and to create an enabling environment for foreign investments.”
Police have arrested 10 people in connection with the murder and the mine has remained closed.