24 January 2013

Liberia: Chinese Protest At Embassy

The failure of the Chinese ambassador and his staff to intervene in the seizure of goods from Chinese merchants in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, prompted dozens of Chinese to stage a protest at the embassy yesterday.

The Chinese said they were besieging their Embassy in protest of what they called the "continuous delay by the Ambassador and other officials at the Chinese embassy" in Congo Town, Monrovia, to respond to complaints of alleged harassment of Chinese by authorities of the Paynesville City Corporation (PCC)."

"They come to our shops and harass us every day. We have asked them to give us their city ordinance (which lays out rules on public health, sanitation and the general condition of municipalities) so that we can know whether we are in violation of it, but they have refused.

"So we informed the embassy but they too refused to respond to us despite several efforts to get to them on the issue. Therefore, we are here today to make sure that they intervene on our behalf," said Xuzhi Qua, one of the businessmen.

The Chinese who were in their numbers sat on the mats at the main gate of the Chinese embassy, preventing anyone from leaving or entering the consulate.

"We are not besieging them. We just want the Ambassador and other officials here to know that the PCC continues to harass us for no good reason. Let them tell us if we have committed any crime,"

Qua clarified.

Other Chinese who spoke through Ceci Li, an interpreter, said that the PCC authorities always stopped their customers from transacting business with them by directing buyers to deal with "Liberian" shops.

"So we want the Embassy to intervene. Let them tell us the reason why they are doing this. We are concerned because we pay our taxes and contribute to the growth of the economy too," one of them said through Li.

Officials at the PCC and the embassy could not be reached for comments despite concerted efforts.

The premises of the Chinese embassy were closed and private security personnel manning the gates prevented anyone from gaining access there.

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