China's foreign ministry has denied reports that Chinese food companies are canning human flesh and selling it in Africa as corned beef.
The country's state-run Xinhua news agency said one newspaper in Zambia was falsely quoting an unnamed woman living in China.
She said Chinese firms were collecting dead human bodies, marinating them and packing them in tins.
Chinese spokesman Hong Lei said the reports were "irresponsible".
The Chinese Ambassador to Zambia, Yang Youming, said the reports were aimed at destroying the long-standing partnership between the two countries. "Today a newspaper is openly spreading a rumour, claiming that the Chinese use human meat to make corned beef and sell it to Africa.
"This is a malicious slandering and vilification which is absolutely unacceptable to us.
We hereby express our utmost anger and the strongest condemnation over such an act," he said. Zambia's Deputy Defence Minister Christopher Mulenga says his government will launch an investigation into the reports.