An international relations lecturer has cautioned the governments of Ghana and China to consider their strong economic relations before escalating a row over Ghana’s fight against illegal mining known as galamsey.
Dr Agnes Khoor-Dzisi said the Foreign Affairs Ministry must inform its counterpart in China that efforts to clamp down on the activities of illegal miners have nothing to do with its nationals.
This, Webster University-Ghana Campus lecturer believes will douse the animosity that is rearing its head since the start of anti-galamsey campaigns in the country.
Dr Khoor-Dzisi’s comments come in the wake of claims by some Ghanaian businessmen in China that they are being harassed by Chinese officials in circumstances they believe is a retaliation for Ghana’s anti-galamsey campaigns.
They say they are being unduly harassed in their day to day activities.
They claim 70 Accra-bound consignments, for instance, have reportedly been impounded by Chinese customs officials in the last three weeks whilst visa-processing requirements have been toughened.
The businessmen have appealled to the Foreign Affairs Ministry to intervene in alleged maltreatment against them by Chinese authorities following government’s clamp down on illegal mining, or galamsey.
Related: Anti-galamsey fight: China allegedly hitting back at Ghanaian businesses
There is mounting pressure on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo government to end galamsey in the country, but this has come with some consequences.
The Chinese Embassy in Ghana has warned of dire diplomatic consequences if attacks on Chinese nationals in the media are not curtailed by the government.
Some Chinese awaiting repatriation from Ghana last year
The Chinese are heavily involved in illegal mining activities popularly referred to as ‘galamsey’ in Ghana and the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry has given a three-week ultimatum to illegal miners to cease their operations or risk confiscation of their equipment.
That ultimatum expires in less than 24 hours.
President Nana Akufo-Addo has said Ghana will continue to have a cordial relationship with the Chinese, adding he will ensure full enforcement of the law without fear or favour.
He said Ghana, as a country does not hate the Chinese, nonetheless the laws governing foreign nationals in trade and business will be applied to the letter.
The President said his administration will continue to find lasting solutions to the menace of illegal mining.
Related: We don’t hate Chinese; our laws must work – Akufo-Addo
However, some Ghanaian businessmen lament being disrespected and harassed at the airports in China, their goods confiscated without explanation.
The lecturer empathised with Ghanaian businessmen who are facing difficulties in transacting business in China. She advised the governments of China and Ghana to move beyond the anti-galamsey campaign and maintain the long-term mutual relationship they have had.
“It is a very positive sign that the two countries are growing from strength to strength with the increase in trade and investments and the galamsey issue is unfortunate and something that should not have happened in the first place.
Related: Dealing with ‘galamsey’: China cannot tell us what to do – Lloyd Amoah
Dr Khoor-Dzisi said the two countries must look at the bigger picture and longer vision of what they stand to benefit from each other through their relationship.
“How can we look at making both countries strong looking at the economic interest based on equal grounds, based on mutual respect, trust and good practice?
“It is important to look at how these Chinese manage to get their permits to come to Ghana to engage in an activity such as galamsey.
“What is their understanding of Ghanaian laws in the face of what they engage in? What kind of impression do they get regarding their permits and license,” she quizzed.
According to her, the two countries should be an analytical, detailed and rigorous in assessing the situation.