70 Chinese arrested in Nigeria freed
Updated: 2012-05-25 07:55
By Zhao Shengnan and Zhang Yunbi (China Daily)
China confirmed on Thursday that some of the Chinese citizens arrested by Nigeria on charges of illegal trading have been released.
Around 70 of the 100 Chinese citizens who were arrested for living or doing business in the country illegally have been released, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday.
The Nigerian immigration office recently arrested 45 Chinese traders in the northern city of Kano.
The 21 Chinese citizens released in Kano on Wednesday night have been returned to China one by one, while 13 Chinese accused of illegal trading will be sent back to China soon, a spokesman at the Chinese embassy in Nigeria told China Daily.
The embassy in Abuja and the general consulate in Lagos have made prompt inquiries concerning the case and visited the arrested Chinese, said the spokesman. "We have lodged humanitarian demands to Nigeria."
For those who may face repatriation, the Chinese embassy would continue to offer consular assistance to protect their legitimate rights, he said.
Hong said China has urged Nigeria to handle the case carefully according to law and would work closely with their Nigerian counterparts to resolve the case.
Emmanuel Brisca Ifeadi, Nigeria's state comptroller of immigration, said the Chinese arrested at the market in Kano were "scavengers" taking jobs away from Nigerian people.
He denied this action was targeted at Chinese residents in general, saying that Nigeria welcomes Chinese investments and supports legitimate trade, but it prohibits those who undercut Nigerian businesses. National law bans foreigners from the retail sale of textiles, according to AFP.
Chinese nationals in Nigeria have enjoyed a good relationship with local government and residents, and China has made considerable contributions to the country through trade in textiles and automobiles, said Wang Yusheng, former Chinese ambassador to Nigeria.
"Given the friendly exchanges between the two sides in the past, the recent arrest is considered a minor incident," Wang said, adding that it could hardly escalate into a large-scale anti-China movement in Nigeria.
The Chinese embassy has urged Chinese citizens to become more integrated into Nigerian society by observing local laws and communicating more with local people. There are currently 20,000 Chinese nationals living in Nigeria.
China is a major investor in Nigeria, accounting for some 25 percent of the country's foreign direct investment, according to figures provided by Nigeria's trade and investment ministry.
Some Nigerians blame Chinese imports for the decline of local textile mills, though chronic power shortages are at least as much to blame.
To protect local people's employment and some industries, Nigeria has carried out quota control on foreign employees. It also has put a ban on textile imports to protect its domestic industry.
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Reuters and Xinhua contributed to this story.
(China Daily 05/25/2012 page10)