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Diplomats talk after migrant brawl in Russia
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-15 22:17

Chinese diplomats are still negotiating with Russian authorities after dozens of migrant Chinese workers were injured in a clash in the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk.

The head of the Chinese Consulate General in Khabarovsk was at the scene yesterday to try and handle the matter, but refused to give details.

The conflict happened on Wednesday night, when local police were carrying out checks on foreign workers. Arguments broke out during the ID check and a scuffle broke out which involved more than 200 Chinese labourers.

Russian media said about 20 workers were hurt, some seriously.

The migrants, who are working on a new building called Zeon, were reported to be "very emotional" when asked to show their documents, and some of them allegedly appeared to be drunk.

The report said they quarrelled with the police, refusing to show their papers. Two were arrested and charged with organizing chaos.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on Saturday urged the Russian authorities to investigate the incident and make sure there was no repeat.

He said the Chinese Consulate General in Khabarovsk had made immediate representations to the Russian authorities on hearing about it.

"The issue has aroused great concern from the Chinese Government," Kong said.

On Friday night, the Foreign Ministry called Russian Embassy officials in Beijing.

Kong said the troublemakers must be punished and the injured Chinese treated. Reports have come in that police revisited the construction site the following day to repeat their investigations but that all workers were found to be there legitimately. Other building sites with foreign workers were also targeted for inspections in the city.

A member of staff in the commerce section of the Chinese Consulate General in Khabarovsk said business exchanges between China and Russia have significantly increased recently, and many migrant Chinese workers have poured across the border with eastern Russia.

"As long as there is a need for labour in the Russian market, there will be more and more labour exported from China," the spokesperson said.

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