Bashing ‘the Chinese’: contextualizing Zambia's Collum Coal Mine shooting

Barry Sautman, Yan Hairong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)


The 2010 shooting of 13 miners at Zambia's small, privately-owned ‘Chinese’ Collum Coal Mine (CCM) has been represented by Western and Zambian politicians and media as exemplifying the ‘neo-colonial’ and ‘amoral’ practices of ‘China’ and ‘the Chinese’ in Africa. CCM has been used to provide a sharp contrast to the supposed ways of the Western firms that own most of Zambia's mines. Embedded in racial hierarchy and notions of strategic competition between the West and China, the discourse of the CCM shootings further shapes conceptions of global China and Chinese overseas. While examining all the oppressive conditions that have given rise to protest at the mine, we contextualize the shooting and subsequent conflicts. In analyzing CCM's marginal and troubled development, we discuss aspects of the 2010 shooting incident known to miners and union leaders, but ignored by politicians and media. We look at the shooting's political fallout, focus also on the epilogue that was the 2012 CCM riot—in which one Chinese person was murdered and several others seriously injured—and trace the sometimes violent discontent manifested at other foreign-owned mines in Zambia since their privatization in the late 1990s. The empirical data for this detailed study derive from hundreds of documentary sources and interviews with union leaders, workers, officials and others in Zambia from 2011 to 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1092
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Contemporary China
Issue number90
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations

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