In August, China’s ambassador to Zambia took to the stage at a new conference centre in the capital Lusaka, which he called “a gift from the Chinese government to our Zambian friends”, to speak about lending to the debt-laden southern African country.

Reporting by Rachel Savage in London and Martin Quin Pollard and Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Additional Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto in Tokyo, Jorgelina do Rosario and Marc Jones in London, and Chris Mfula in Lusaka; Editing by Karin Strohecker and Alexandra Hudson