“All Weather Friends”: How China Transformed Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Sector

Resource type
Date created
2020-01-22
Authors/Contributors
Author: Smith, Julia
Author: Lee, Kelley
Abstract
Recent research documents the globalization strategy of the Chinese tobacco industry since the early 2000s and risks posed to global health. There are limited analyses to date of how this strategy is playing out in specific countries. This paper analyses the expansion of the China National Tobacco Company (CNTC) in Zimbabwe, the largest producer of tobacco leaf globally, since the early 2000s, through document analysis. It applies a political economy framework—identifying material, ideational and institutional forces—to demonstrate how CNTC capitalized on the unique features of China-Africa development cooperation to pursue its expansion goals, which threaten global public health efforts to reduce tobacco supply. In a context of economic crisis, CNTC offered substantial resources to revive Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry, promoting a shift to contract farming of its preferred leaf. It benefited from perceptions of state friendship, which it fostered through corporate social responsibility initiatives. Through ties with the Chinese embassy and economic actors, CNTC embedded its interests in development institutions. While contributing to improved foreign exchange earnings and some farmers’ livelihoods, CNTC’s expansion has increased the dependence on China as a development partner and tobacco as a crop, benefitting its “go global” strategy, while contributing to public health and environmental challenges locally and globally. The expansion of the Chinese tobacco industry interests in Zimbabwe offers lessons for global tobacco control and efforts to support alternatives to tobacco growing.
Document
Published as
Fang, J.; De Souza, L.; Smith, J.; Lee, K. “All Weather Friends”: How China Transformed Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Sector. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 723. DOI: 10.3390/ijerph17030723.
Publication title
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health
Document title
“All Weather Friends”: How China Transformed Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Sector
Date
2020
Volume
17
Issue
723
Publisher DOI
10.3390/ijerph17030723
Copyright statement
Copyright is held by the author(s).
Scholarly level
Peer reviewed?
Yes
Language
Member of collection
Attachment Size
ijerph-17-00723.pdf 317.85 KB