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Opinions of Friday, 19 April 2013

Columnist: Ali, Joseph Oswald

Diplomatic Relations with China and the Ghanaian Predicament

The world being a conglomerate of nations with diverse natural and human resource makes no country an island. This need for partnership and interdependence has given rise to the establishment of diplomatic ties amongst nations. This has given impetus to Ghana in establishing diplomatic relations with a plethora of nations the world over. China which has become a financial power block in the comity of nations is one with which this country is engaging in a lot of economic ventures. In our country they have become the financiers and contractors of major national projects including the grave of our late professor Mills. It is for mutual benefits that give rise to establishing diplomatic relations with other countries; could that be said of our relationship with China?

It is worthy of note, that any nation the age of Ghana ought to have developed beyond its current state as in the case of Malaysia and others. Could our under development be a reward from our partnerships we have entered into with other countries? Anyway this is not the focus of my article. It is factually accurate that China has a lot of goodies to offer Ghana if we partner with her in the right manner. In recent times panning loans, aid and technical assistance China has become our most revered ally. In recent times what ought to be of mutual benefit to both nations has become an albatross around the neck of our dear country. Chinese nationals both legally and illegally resident in Ghana have high jacked various facets of our society also into both legitimate and illegitimate activity.

Like a very determined coward our leaders deal with the issue of Chinese nationals in Ghana and their activities with mere rhetoric and action are relegated to the background. To begin with, the issue of illegal mining (galamsey) operations in Ghana has reached its zenith as a result of the influx of Chinese. These Chinese in connivance with local nationals engage in this illegal activity which has devastating consequences on the environment and also a clear pillage of our resources. This has led to the destruction of large trucks of land, pollution of water bodies, deforestation and worse of all the pollution of rivers and other water bodies. It gets very fascinating when the muster courage to open fire on residents of areas who oppose such blatant disregard of the law. Some of these can’t be countenanced or sacrificed on the altar of either aide or diplomatic relations.

In furtherance, our markets have been inundated with cheap and sub standard products from these people even to the nadir of products like condoms. It is no wonder that the axiom ‘china’ has become associated with cheap goods in Ghanaian parlance. Indeed the health of a nation is its wealth hence the importation of such sub standard products have side effects with dire effects on the health of our people. The rate at which fake and imitated drugs are being brought into the shores of our nation is worrying and need to be reversed with urgency. The least we talked about the collapse of the textile industry of our country through the imitation of our local designs and duplicating them at cheap cost for the market the better. Our textile industries which otherwise were hubs for employment are reeling on their knees for survival.

The Chinese have also vehemently disregarded our trade laws by engaging in retail trade of almost any and everything with some even engaging in street vending. This has compounded our unemployment situation and aggravating tension between local traders and their Chinese counterparts. This unfortunate situation does not engender trust and confidence in state institutions by the majority of Ghanaians who under very difficult circumstances strive to put food on their tables. These activities have become a disincentive to trade and an affront to our laws and bruise the ego of our nation.

In all of the activities of the Chinese in our country, the most repugnant is the hardcore crime that they’ve taken to. It isn’t any news in recent times to hear that some Chinese have engaged in armed robbery or car snatching. I’m not in any way suggesting crime is the preserve of locals but the trend is worrying. The Chinese sex scandal I believe is still lingering in the minds of many Ghanaians. It is my opinion that a person can’t leave his/her country to another with the intent of perpetuating crime if in his/her guise there is laxity in the laws of that country. In summing up this article I wish to affirm that receiving loans, grants and technical aid from china is no exchange for our sovereignty. It is time for our leaders to bite the bullet and enforce our laws to the letter. In this day and age of diplomacy we ought to engage with the Chinese government to arriving at an amicable solution to this problem which must to fall short of our national interest. I must state upfront that this article is not to whip up xenophobic sentiments but to ensure strict adherence and enforcement of our laws. This nation must redeem its image of being frail and weak when it comes to holding people especially foreigners to task. Those Ghanaians who are henchmen of the Chinese must either wear their cloaks of patriotism or face the music. I can’t go without putting it forward that the Chinese have several good things to offer but for them few of us would possess the sort of electronics we have today. This does not therefore warrant them to take us through such predicament.

Joseph Oswald Ali