Despite the fact that Chinese economic involvement in Africa has flooded the plateau continent with billions of dollars, it’s not without its critics. One of them is China’s own ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing, who’s been vocal about the corruption plaguing Chinese companies in the region. Quartz reports:
“Our people just cannot shake their bad habits,” Lu said, in an interview (link in Chinese) with the Chinese paper Southern Metropolis News yesterday. “Tanzania hosts ambassadors from about 70 countries, but none of them needs to constantly worry like us about consular protection issues,” Lu added.
China’s growing investment and business ties with African countries has long been a subject of criticism among observers within and outside of Africa. Recently, Chinese leaders have also taken to admitting to problems while describing them as just “growing pains” in Sino-African relations. But rarely have officials been as frank as Lu, especially regarding one of China’s oldest African allies and top foreign investment destinations.
Lu complained about Chinese nationals attempting to smuggle ivory out of Tanzania, one of the world’s main ports for smuggling the banned animal product—hiding the illegal commodity under the hoods of their cars or even inside their undergarments. China is the world’s top destination (pdf, p. 30) for illicit ivory, according to the United Nations, and the thousands of Chinese nationals working in Tanzania have only exacerbated the illegal trade.
Just several months ago, three Chinese nationals were detained for attempting to smuggle rhino horns and leopard skins out of Namibia – an all too common occurrence.
One of the biggest scourges is China’s illegal gold mining operations in Africa, which have seen clandestine miners rape and harass locals. And unlike with ivory-smuggling, netizens don’t seem too outraged about it. Conversely, they’ve been calling on the government to protect these rogue miners.
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