Head of the Legon Centre for Asian Studies, Dr. Lloyd Amoah says government should not allow China to dictate to it how to tackle the problem of illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’.
He said Ghana reserves the right to determine what is not in its best interest and to decide what solutions are effective and how to apply those solutions.
The Chinese diplomatic mission in Ghana has written to express its concerns with the new approach which has been adopted in the fight against illegal mining.
The mission is also unhappy with what they refer to as the biased media campaign targeted at the Chinese in Ghana.
The activities of illegal mining has resulted in the pollution of some of Ghana’s water bodies like the River Pra
In a letter sent to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Chinese said the new campaign against galamsey could upset the bilateral relations between the two countries.
The officials also pointed to a cartoon in the media which they say defamed their president and the Ambassador.
Dr Amoah says, although the Chinese government has the right to defend its national interest, the issue of galamsey and how Ghana decides to handle it is entirely in the hands of Ghanaians.
He said it is important to make it clear that anyone who does not have the proper license or “you are seen to be dredging the beds of our water bodies, we have the right to make you stop it by force or coercion .
“So I don’t think it lies in the ambit of our Chinese friends to be saying ‘don’t use force’. The primary responsibility in dealing with this key matter lies with Ghana’s policy makers and we have to frame the problems and the solution that should be applied,” he added.
For him, once the Ghana Water Company has made it clear that if the menace is not stopped Ghana’s water supply could be gravely affected, it now lies with policy makers to pursue measures that will be Ghana’s supreme interest.
Related:Lands Minister issues three-week ultimatum to illegal miners
Ghana’s friendship with China or any other country cannot supersede its national interest, he indicated.
“Of course their interest can come in but they come in as complimentary and secondary,” he stressed.
Dr Amoah also said the Chinese government has no right to direct Ghana on how to treat the media.
“And in any case this matter has become pertinent in the media because it is a matter that Ghanaians are sensitive about an I think our Chinese friends should understand that.
“We have a unique way regarding the way our media operate. We have an open press, we have made that choice and within that framework, our journalists have the right to handle matters the way they deem fit, to the extent that it doesn’t unnecessarily throw any bad light on anyone.”
Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Suleimana Braimah who also contributed to the discussion said it was no surprise that the Chinese government is asking the government of Ghana to oppress the media.
He said China is seeking to take advantage of the fact that it gives Ghana loans and grants to impose its way of life and policies on how things are done here.
Related: Govt to roll out ‘sustained’ clampdown on illegal mining
“I think it is important to remind them that we have long gone past the era where government could regulate what the media say and what they do.
“Our constitution is explicit in terms of the provisions that guarantees press freedom and freedom of expression,” he added.
He said it’s not for any reason that the government of Ghana seeks redress from the National Media Commission when it feels the media has gone overboard.
Related:Akufo-Addo unveils anti-galamsey strategy this week
He said it does so because the law governing media practice requires that that is done, and China cannot infringe on that right.
“Ghana is not an extension of China, Chinese laws don’t apply in Ghana and the government of Ghana cannot do what the government of China does to the media.
“We have not gone over the top,” he said.