How Does the Development Frontline View the Major Powers? A Perception Survey Toward China in Zambia

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In general, perception surveys toward foreign countries tend to focus on urban populations with consistently high levels of education during the analysis phase. This is because they are considered more important in influencing domestic and international politics. This paper seeks to counter these traditional perception surveys and focus on those at the frontline of development. It aims to identify the perceptions of those at the frontline of China’s long-standing mining development projects in Zambia toward China and how they view development in the region. Perception surveys and focus group interviews with various social groups were conducted in Chambishi in the Copperbelt, where mining development has long been taking place. The study then identified differences in perceptions and underlying factors among those who are considered to have a high level of education. The survey results show that the public’s perceptions toward China are nested. Chambishi residents, who are at the frontline of development driven by China, were found to have a favorable perception toward them. People are acutely aware that China is essential for Zambia’s development. On the other hand, the high favorable perception toward China does not mean that they feel that China is psychologically close to them. Although people appreciate the diverse contributions that Chinese companies make to the region, they strongly hold the view that these contributions are “insufficient” when compared to the mining resources in the region that China is enclosing.

Date of issuance
January 2024
Journal of Contemporary East Asia Studies
Number of pages
Related areas
  • #Asia
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Research area
Politics and Governance
Research project