Mining campaign not target Chinese: Ghana

Updated: 2013-06-15 11:07


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ACCRA - Ghana's ongoing anti-illegal mining campaign would not endanger or affect its good relationship with China, Ghanaian Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur told Xinhua Friday.

He lauded legal Chinese enterprises and their contribution to the economic and social progress in the western African country.

The vice president reiterated that government efforts to crack down on illegal mining were not targeting Chinese nationals but the illegal activity itself.

"We have tried very hard to point out to people that it is not the Chinese that my government is after," Amissah-Arthur said. "It is all types, all kinds of illegal operations and there are many of them where there are Ghanaians only."

He said illegal foreign miners had blatantly disregarded the country's laws on small-scale artisanal mining and had introduced massive earth moving equipment into surface mining, which had led to massive environmental degradation and water pollution.

Last month, Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama launched an inter-ministerial task force on illegal mining to arrest, prosecute and deport any foreign nationals found in small-scale mining in Ghana and punish the locals involved.

Many foreign nationals engaging in illegal mining were arrested and detained by the security forces, including 169 Chinese workers.

A Chinese work team comprising officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce and public security arrived in Ghana Tuesday to discuss the anti-illegal mining issue. After consultations between officials of the two countries, the Chinese detainees were released.

Some media warned that Ghana was showing xenophobia and the operation would hurt bilateral relations between Ghana and China.

"We have had citizens from Nigeria, Niger, France, the United States, who are all operating in this area and we are dealing with them the same way that we are dealing in this work," Amissah-Arthur said.

"We hope it will not affect the relations between Ghana and China because we find the Chinese people very friendly and very supportive of Ghana's economic development," he said.

"We would like to maintain the relationship in a way in which illegal activity will not be condoned that we will also be able to proceed as friendly cooperative countries."

The vice president also said the country hopes to attract more Chinese investment to Ghana to raise bilateral cooperation to a new level.

Chinese Ambassador to Ghana Gong Jianzhong said in talks with Amissah-Arthur Friday that Beijing understands and respects Ghana's actions against illegal mining based on its laws, and is ready to join Ghana in curbing illegal mining activities with all effective measures.

But he called for civilized law enforcement and ensuring that Chinese nationals' reasonable and legitimate rights were protected.