This is one of the darkest sides yet of China’s commercial push into Africa. Angola, China’s biggest trading partner on the continent and home now to more than 250,000 Chinese, has deported 37 Chinese nationals accused of kidnapping, armed robbery and running extortion rackets and prostitution gangs.
The alleged gangsters, both men and women, have returned to China in the custody of a special police unit that Beijing sent to Luanda in July. The picture above is from TV footage of their disembarkation, handcuffed and with their faces partially masked. They will now face trial at home. They are said to have preyed on other Chinese, including businessmen they held hostage for ransom and women they brought to Angola on the promise of well-paid jobs but then forced into prostitution. Ministry of Public Security officials say the special police unit broke up 12 such Chinese gangs operating in Angola. A further 24 accomplices were arrested in Fujian and Anhui.
The scale and violence of the gangs’ activities in Angola, which included killing five of 14 kidnapped businessmen last year and burying some of them alive, had started disrupting Chinese firms’ business operations, and tarnishing Chinese businesses’ already less than shining reputation with locals, to such an extent that Beijing felt it necessary to exert the long arm of its law half way around the world. It is the first time police have undertaken such an action in Africa. This Bystander suspects it won’t be the last.