Chinese officials have issued an angry denial following claims the country has been marinating human cadavers, putting them in cans and then selling them in African supermarkets.
The outlandish rumour appears to have been started on Facebook, where a post featuring grisly images, supposedly of human meat being processed, went viral earlier this month.
The post was picked up by Zambia’s Daily Post, among others, which published a report saying: “One cannot deny the possibilities (sic) of this being true since we all know that the Asians are among the largest population in the entire world.
“Since China is so overpopulated to a point where there is no space to spit, what do they do with the dead bodies of the Chinese? Well the answer might be that they are shipping the bodies to Africa in the form of canned meat, and they make a profit during the process.”
Yang Youming, China’s ambassador to Zambia, released a statement saying: “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,” he said in a statement.
“We hereby express our utmost anger and the strongest condemnation over such an act.”
Zambia’s Deputy Defense Minister Christopher Mulenga has pledged that the government will launch investigations into the reports.
“The government of Zambia regrets the incident in view of the warm relations that exist between Zambia and China. We shall make sure that relevant government authorities will take up the investigations and give a comprehensive statement,” he said.
Chinese state media suggested that “people with ulterior motives were attempting to destroy the long-standing partnership between Zambia and China.”