Author: Rohit Negi.
Africa's relations with China gained worldwide prominence in November 2006 when 35 African heads of state gathered in Beijing to celebrate the rapid growth of Sino-African economic relations in the new millennium. But only a month earlier, riots had broken out in Zambia as Chinese shops and businesses were targeted by angry mobs following the electoral defeat of the anti-China Patriotic Front. Juxtaposing China's search for African oil and mineral reserves—the so-called “Chinese scramble”—with the growing resentment it is facing in places like Zambia, several analysts have termed China the new colonial power in Africa. This paper argues that the conceptual resuscitation of colonialism is problematic, but calls for a critical and contextual understanding of the Chinese presence in African countries. It shows that the political and popular opposition to China in Zambia is linked to a surge in economic nationalism and new challenges to neoliberal orthodoxy.