The detention took place over the weekend for (alleged) illegal mining activities and exploitation of child labor. Chinese diplomat replies: there is no evidence of "illegal" activities justifying arrests. The African country hosts a growing Chinese community.
Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Beijing government has raised official protests with Zambia following the arrest of 31 Chinese people at the weekend for alleged illegal mining activities. A senior diplomat from the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the Lusaka authorities would not provide evidence to justify the retention of their fellow countrymen.
The detainees face serious charges which vary, among other things, from the construction of unauthorized fusion installations to the use of child laborers.
Over the last few years, China has invested heavily in Zambia, in areas including the copper mining industry. In addition, the country hosts an ever-growing community of Chinese expatriates.
Zambia's "colonization" falls within the context of a larger investment policy promoted by Beijing in the continent, which has over time become a sort of "breadbasket" for China and a land of economic and trade development.
The weekend detentions are the work of a joint police and anti-immigration unit. The arrests took place in the town of Chingola, 400 km north of the capital Lusaka. "Foreign investors coming to our country - said Interior Minister Stephen Kampyongo - must operate in compliance with the law."
The Foreign Ministry's minister responsible for Africa, Lin Songtian, responded that there have been no "illegal" activities.
There have already been tensions between China and Zambia in the past. Specifically, in 2010, two Chinese managers were charged with attempted murder for having fired at a local miners' group to quell a payment dispute. Later the allegations were withdrawn.
Two years later, some Zambian miners killed a Chinese manager during an uprising in a coal mine.