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Ghana Suspects Beijing Retaliation, After Deporting Illegal Chinese Gold Miners

Thousands of Chinese nationals have been deported from Ghana in a crackdown on the plunder of the country’s gold by illegal miners.

Immigration authorities say more than 4,500 Chinese nationals have been repatriated after a series of swoops on illegal goldmines. The Guardian has learned that Ghana’s government, which depends heavily on China for billions of dollars in loans and is a major trading partner, believes Beijing may be retaliating, damaging relations between the two countries.

“Of late we have seen a tightening of the visa regime at the Chinese embassy for Ghanaians. We don’t know whether this is a manifestation of our actions to deport illegal Chinese goldminers,” said Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, Ghana’s minister of lands and mines.

“This is a matter for concern. Relations between China and Ghana go back a long way, and they had been on the rise until we started the expulsion of foreigners from our illegal mining sites. We didn’t think China would take it to this extent.”

China has denied that any of its actions are a retaliation for the deportation of illegal immigrants from Ghana. Ghana’s government said claims that delays in Ghana being able to access a $3 billion loan facility agreed with China recently were related to the current events.

So far this year 1,577 illegal foreign miners have been arrested by the Ghanaian authorities, and more than 3,800 have submitted to deportation on a voluntary basis, according to the ministry for lands and mines. Immigration authorities said that in June and July alone 4,592 Chinese illegal immigrants were deported.

“All these Chinese were involved in illegal employment in Ghana, the majority in illegal gold-mining,” said Michael Amoako-Atta, a spokesman for Ghana’s immigration service. “This is only the first phase of our operations, we will be continuing in due course…”

Source: The Guardian

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