"The beginning of a world empire"? Contesting the discourse of Chinese copper mining in Zambia

Yan Hairong, Barry Sautman

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


A discourse fostered by Western politicians and media of Chinese copper mining in Zambia has been central to global discussions of China-in-Africa since the mid-2000s. Based in the West's putative strategic rivalry with China, the discourse also invokes racial stereotypes about Chinese cruelty and disregard for human life. Focusing on Human Rights Watch's 2011 attempt to prove China's firms to be Zambian copper mining's "worst employers," we show that the discourse is highly inaccurate: methodological mistakes compound elementary empirical errors, even as the politics of the discourse serve up a synecdoche for the global rise of a monolithic China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)131-164
Number of pages34
JournalModern China
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2013


  • China going global
  • China-Africa links
  • Chinese investment overseas
  • Chinese SOE
  • Human rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science

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