China Disputes African Claims On Canning Human Flesh For Sale In Zambian Supermarkets

Rumors have been doing the African rounds that China is packaging marinated human flesh in cans for sale in Zambian supermarkets. Apparently, this isn’t the case, and China is not impressed.

China has been developing deeper business ties with Zambia for a long time now, with Beijing funding infrastructure projects in the country while seeking the supply of Zambia’s natural resources to aid its own growing economy. Now the rumors doing the rounds are threatening those close ties.

Tuesday saw China’s ambassador to Zambia releasing a statement refuting the rumors he said are harming China’s reputation in Africa.

According to China’s official Xinhua News Agency, Yang Youming said in the statement on Tuesday, “Today a local tabloid newspaper is openly spreading a rumor, claiming that the Chinese use human meat to make corned beef and sell it to Africa.”

“This is completely a malicious slandering and vilification, which is absolutely unacceptable to us.”

Yang continued by saying, “We hereby express our utmost anger and the strongest condemnation over such an act.”

As reported by the Washington Post, tabloids in Zambia had started spreading the rumors, and several blogs and other publications online have picked up the stories via Facebook. According to the rumors, human flesh was being marinated and packaged in cans purporting to be corned beef.

In the various reports and blogs, an unnamed Zambian woman living in China is quoted as issuing the warnings to Africans not to eat corned beef. It was she who claimed that dead human bodies are being collected and marinated before being canned and labeled as corned beef for human consumption.

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Among these reports, some quoted sources who had allegedly worked in the Chinese meat factories as saying that China is running out of space to bury their dead or, alternatively, that Beijing is reserving its good “non-human” meat for more powerful countries.

The Chinese state media fought the rumors, saying, “People with ulterior motives were attempting to destroy the long-standing partnership between Zambia and China.”

Among those disputing the rumors is the hoax-busting website, which noted the photographs shared online purportedly showing “human flesh” are actually from a 2012 marketing stunt for the video game Resident Evil 6.

Canned human flesh

However, the way the story is getting widespread coverage in the Chinese state media does suggest that the rumors have touched a nerve.

Yang has demanded an investigation by Zambia, which prompted the Zambian Deputy Defense Minister, Christopher Mulenga, to apologize, saying, “The government of Zambia regrets the incident in view of the warm relations that exist between Zambia and China.”

Mulenga was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as adding, “We shall make sure that relevant government authorities will take up the investigations and give a comprehensive statement.”

Reportedly, the close ties between China and Zambia have bred resentment among many locals in the African country, who say China pays low wages and offers dangerous working conditions at its many projects.

The Washington Post reports that there have been several scandals involving these projects in Zambia, including a BBC report of a 2005 explosion at a factory that killed more than 50 Zambian workers.

[Image via Larry Hoffman | Flickr | Cropped and resized | CC BY 2.0]