esterday, while Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta was in Beijing, attending a China-Africa forum, police in Nairobi carried out a raid on the African headquarters of the China Global Television Network (CGTN), briefly arresting a number of Chinese journalists and staff as part of the country’s ongoing crackdown against illegal immigration.
Footage of the raid posted online shows police carrying automatic weapons asking foreigners in the building to produce their identity cards and work permits. Those who were not carrying their cards and permits were hustled away by officers into waiting vehicles.
Drama at CGTN over crackdown on illegal immigrants. pic.twitter.com/1BoSGDudlw
— NTV Kenya (@ntvkenya) September 5, 2018
Plain clothes officers on Wednesday stormed CGTN Africa HQ in Nairobi in an operation believed to be targeting illegal immigrants. pic.twitter.com/y8p57z5FHW
— The Star, Kenya (@TheStarKenya) September 5, 2018
Later in the day, Kenyan police announced that they had all released all 13 Chinese workers who had been detained after the country’s immigration department was able to confirm that they were in Kenya legally.
The Chinese Embassy in Nairobi expressed its concern over the raid. CGTN is the international arm of China’s state broadcaster, CCTV.
Kenya is currently in the middle of a campaign against illegal immigration, cracking down on those who enter the country on tourist visas, but stay to work. Last week, the interior ministry even publicized a hotline number which people can call to report illegal immigrants.
The raid comes as Chinese state media is squarely focused on the China-Africa forum in Beijing, attended by leaders from around the continent. Over the years, China has invested significant resources into Kenya, most prominentlyfunding and building a $3.2 billion railway linking Nairobi with the coastal city of Mombasa, the country’s largest infrastructure project post-independence.
Kenyatta is expected to sign an agreement with China for a $3.5 billion extension of the railway to the Uganda border. This is despite the fact that the rail line is off to a very bumpy start. Top officials have been arrested on corruption charges, the Chinese railway operator has been accused of racism and mistreatment of local workers, and critics have worried about Kenya’s ballooning debt to China.
Meanwhile, in China, the project has often been held forth as a symbol of Sino-African ties.
At the annual spring festival gala, this year, the railway was the subject of a skit that drew outragefor featuring an “African mother” played by a Chinese woman in blackface, complete with a large artificial behind, who declares: “I love Chinese people! I love China!”