Kenyan traders march to prime minister’s office in protest against Chinese dealers
NAIROBI — Hundreds of Kenyan traders took to the streets of Nairobi on Thursday, accusing Chinese dealers of abusing tourist visas to come into the country and peddle cheap wares.
Blowing whistles and plastic horns, the banner-waving protesters marched to the prime minister’s office shouting "Chinese must go" and handed over a petition.
Scores of large Chinese corporations have moved into the East African country, and other parts of the continent, to build factories and roads and extract its oil and minerals. The Kenyan traders said the big businesses had been followed by thousands of small Chinese dealers who got tourist visas, then headed out to the streets to push anything from milk to electronics.
"The issue is to expel these Chinese from Kenya, the ones that are disturbing our customers. They are involved with every bit of our trading," said James Thamo, who owns a textile trade business and a hotel.
The traders complained many of the Chinese dealers were operating out of backpacks, evading taxes and undercutting the prices charged by local businessmen.
They also said the Chinese embassy in Kenya was issuing shorter-term visas to Kenyans wanting to visit China to buy cheap goods, while working to make it easier for Chinese traders to get into Kenya.
The Chinese embassy in Nairobi said on Wednesday its companies and citizens complied with Kenyan laws. "The Chinese embassy … has always been committed to educating the Chinese companies and its citizens in Kenya to operate businesses within the law."
Such discontent is not isolated to Kenya. Earlier this month in Zambia, coal miners killed a Chinese supervisor and seriously wounded another in a pay dispute.