The emphasis with which president Michael Sata spoke on the need for Chinese investors to abide by the country's labour is indicative of his resolve to ensure that investments benefit both Zambia and the World's second largest economy. It is clear that the new Government is well aware of the significance of Chinese investment not only to Zambia, but to the World at large.
It is important to appreciate that China is the world's largest consumer of copper, whose exports constitute the largest portion of Zambia's foreign earnings. Secondly, the Asian giant through the China Investment Corporation has $400 billion worth of assets acquired in other countries and holds great influence on the global economy.
Thirdly, China is the world's biggest foreign holder of US government debt. This is a significant point bearing in mind that America is the world's biggest economy. Therefore, the new Government has shown that it will pursue a progressive economic path and exploit Chinese investment, which is running to about $3 billion in value in more than 300 Chinese firms in the country.
One outstanding point from the Zambian leader is that his Government would embrace investments as long as the Chinese abide by the labour laws in the country. It is also clear that gaps do exist in the understanding of these laws by the Chinese investors, hence the assurance by the envoy from that country Zhou Yuxiao that he would ensure that local legislation is respected.
The ambassador has thus acknowledged the need to narrow or better still close the gaps so that there is harmony in all Chinese enterprises in Zambia. As observed by the president, the issue is two way because China needs to widen its investment while Zambia also needs to benefit through job creation and value addition.
It is worth appreciating that the Chinese ambassador has suggested that the issue of labour laws should be addressed as a matter of urgency by the two Governments. The challenges should be addressed jointly.
Locally, the ministry of labour and social security should widen its inspections on a more regular basis in Chinese firms.
The Chinese Government on the other hand, should ensure that investors coming to Zambia have a fair understanding of the laws and the English language.
Investment will thus grow for the benefit of the peoples of both countries in a pleasant atmosphere.