Thursday, 11 April 2013

Cameroon: Chinese traders protest insecurity

Chinese traders in Cameroon have observed nearly three weeks of strike action as the protest at what they have described as the harassment and killing of their citizens. Since 2004 at least six Chinese have been killed, three of them this year alone, which indicates that insecurity is rising for foreigners and for the Chinese in particular. A statement signed by members of the Chinese expatriate community said that at least 30 burglaries targeted at Chinese expatriates have been recorded since 2004 and they complained of a lack of government action.

Most Chinese shops in Yaounde and Douala were, however, reopened on Monday 8 April although they would not confirm if security had been guaranteed as they had requested. “We strongly demand that this insecurity be taken very seriously,” read a notice that was posted on a Chinese-run shop on Friday, 7 January in Yaounde.

The incidents are widely considered to be xenophobic attacks given the worry amongst some Cameroonians that Chinese migrants are elbowing them out of business by even getting involved in small-scale trading business in very obscure corners in the country. President Biya has turned to China and other emerging economies for investment to boost the economy because of his inability to woo big businesses from Europe, the US Japan. Many Cameroonians see this policy as a government sell-out which allows around 2,000 Chinese residents to take jobs and businesses which would otherwise be taken by locals.

Official trade between China and Cameroon is growing extremely rapidly and rose by 34% in 2008-2009 alone. China also gives Cameroon grants, loans infrastructural development, as well asproviding military-technical assistance.

For more news and expert analysis about Cameroon, please see Cameroon Politics & Security.

© 2013 Menas Associates

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