China confirms Zambia has freed 31 Chinese held for illegal mining
China’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that 31 Chinese nationals who had been held for illegal mining in Zambia have departed the country to return home.
China had complained that Zambia provided no strong evidence of crimes committed by the 31 arrested on the Chingola, including a pregnant woman and two victims of malaria.
But the Zambian Immigration Department said the Chinese would have to be deported for violating the law.
“After repeated representations by China’s Foreign Ministry and its embassy in Zambia, on the afternoon of June 6, the 31 Chinese citizens that had been seized and detained boarded a plane and left Zambia smoothly to return home,” Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
In a letter, the 31 had expressed their “satisfaction” with the Chinese embassy’s efforts on their behalf, Ms. Hua told a regular news briefing.
Answering questions from Journalists, Ms Hua said “I am pleased to tell you that after China’s Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy in Zambia made multiple representations with the Zambian side, the 31 Chinese nationals have left from Zambia for China by air on the afternoon of June 6 local time.”
She said, “According to my information, relevant departments of Zambia allowed normal departure of these 31 people. Before leaving, they wrote a letter of thanks to the Chinese Embassy to express their appreciation of and satisfaction with the work done by the embassy.”
Chinese companies have invested more than US$1 billion in Zambia, but there has been animosity, with some Zambian workers accusing firms of abuses and underpaying.