By: Kelvin Chiringa
In an apparent attempt to give a pat on the back of disgruntled Namibians, the Chinese embassy has come out to allay fears over a Chinese take-over of the local economy by stating that their local population had declined.
Speaking at the 4th Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab lecture last week, Charge d’Affairs of the Chinese embassy, Yang Jun said they carried out their own survey last year which showed that the population of Chinese people in Namibia had declined to between 4 000 and 3 000.
“The Chinese number is not that large. You won’t believe it,’’ said Jan who went into a lecture of how the Chinese had been good friends of African countries unlike the Europeans who came in to conquer and settle.
This was received by an entire auditorium of protest at the Namibia University of Science of Technology (NUST) which was discussing the impact of Chinese relations to Namibia.
Nevertheless, Jun went on to say thatmany Chinese were being pushed out of the country by the prevailing storm of economic hardships and that many continue to find less opportunities.
‘’So do not be afraid that the Chinese are coming,’’ he said.
In a widely quoted article ran by this publication in 2017 under the headline, “Feeding Namibia to the Chinese,’’ it disclosed that “the Chinese population in Namibia today is about 100 000’’.
It also quoted home affairs spokesperson Salome Kambala’s 2016 statement in which he said the Chinese population in the country was increasing at an alarming rate.
“What they do is that they come through visits, some on work permits and others on business engagements. Many who have been here for years are now permanent residents,” Kambala is quoted as saying.
Treat Chinese well
In his long speech, Jun also appealed to Namibians to ‘’treat the Chinese with an inclusive attitude’’ as many of those that are coming in are finding it hard to adapt and end up in trouble.
However, Jun dismissed several claims that the Chinese were engaging in under-hand dealings especially with regards to donkey-skin and timber exports as well as worker abuse.
He said Namibians working with Chinese nationals should ask themselves whether they were doing the right things first or not before blaming the foreigners.
He said this with reference to allegations that locals were being exposed to blasting hazards at Husab mine.
Jun said he has spoken to the management at the mine which revealed to him that locals were not making sure that all explosives had burst out before walking about on blasting sites.
On the issue of donkey hides, he supported the exports for medicinal reasons stating that since the time the Chinese stopped the trade, the donkeys are now walking about ” doing nothing”.
On timber, he said the Chinese joined when the trade was in existence but stopped after the outcry and a consequent ban.
But he believes that it was justified for the Chinese to harvest and ship home many of the trees because were “500 years old’’.