Chinese-funded multi-facility economic zones (MFEZs) in Zambia are paradigmatic cases of the complex processes of negotiations between state interests, industrialization, and urban development. As instruments of Chinese foreign policy, state-led investments, and globally accepted best practice for economic development, economic zones require land, infrastructure, and a development strategy that is loosely aligned with priorities of their host countries. Rather than conceiving of these MFEZs as isolated Chinese enclaves, this chapter situates them within a longer spatial and temporal trajectory of geopolitics to unpack how urban design and planning practices are also subject to such negotiations. The chapter, first, contextualizes the history of Zambian economic planning that led to the establishment of MFEZs in relationship to Chinese and Japanese foreign policies. Second, it compares the planning and design of the Zambia–China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone and the Lusaka South MFEZ – funded by the Zambian government with assistance from Japan and Malaysia – to analyse the underlying spatial and urban logics of two state-led economic development projects.
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