Date of Award

Spring 2020

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


International studies and urban studies

First Advisor

Dr. Garth Myers

Second Advisor

Dr. Seth Markle


Presently, China is the largest donor, trading partner, and investor on the African continent. The current success of Sino-African relations can be traced back to global South-South cooperation beginning in the 1960s and 1970s when China assisted in funding independence movements across the African continent. Since then, China established itself as a reliable friend and alternative aid provider. The country has since transitioned from utilizing aid to foreign direct investment. Since 2013, China has continued to bolster its own global economic positioning by pushing a foreign policy agenda (One Belt One Road) that targets developing countries by providing massive loans to fund urban infrastructure projects that promise development. China utilizes debt-trap diplomacy to leverage Africa’s development of underdevelopment and resulting infrastructure gap to gain political and economic power by fostering economic dependency. Ultimately, China has used opaque foreign policy to evolve into a neo-colonial force on the African continent.

In this senior honors thesis, I analyze the contemporary relationship between China and Zambia. I argue that the Sino-Zambian relationship is historically rooted beginning in Zambia’s decolonization process, largely unequal, and demonstrates China’s silent but growing neo-colonial presence on the African continent. Applying an interdisciplinary approach, I utilize historical analysis, media studies, urban studies, international studies and political analysis. I engage with the theoretical framework of neo-colonialism to decipher the complex power imbalance that characterizes Sino-Zambian relations. Highlighting Lusaka as my case study city, I analyze its social fragmentation and growing anti-Chinese sentiment as a result of local perceptions of Chinese hegemony. Anti-Chinese perceptions are exacerbated by local politicians and the media, resulting in violence against Chinese nationals in Lusaka. Employing a research method based in reading secondary sources, policy analysis and a content analysis of media sources, I assert that while China is a neo-colonial force in Lusaka, simultaneously Zambia’s preference in China as a primary lender is an exertion of Zambian national sovereignty and decision-making capabilities despite deep debt distress.


Senior thesis completed at Trinity College, Hartford CT for the degree of Bachelor of Arts in International studies and urban studies.