The chairman of Uganda Overseas Chinese Association Mr. Yang Zheng Jun has said the strict immigration policies, which Uganda wants to institute on Chinese investors, will strain the relationship the two countries are forging.
Zheng noted by the government forcefully repatriating some Chinese people living in Uganda, the image of Ugandans in China is being shuttered.
He sent the warning during a dinner that was organized in Kampala by the Federation of Uganda Employers, the Chinese community living in Uganda and the Norwegian Embassy under the Company Cooperation Group.
Zheng was concerned many Chinese without the $100,000 investor threshold are awaiting repatriation, which he noted is bad for a young relationship.
“We also urge the Uganda government to reduce the investor threshold. The people who do not meet this threshold should not be returned to China forcefully,” said Zheng.
The governments’ crackdown and institution of stricter immigration laws came as a result of complaints from the Kampala business community under KACITA outcry that many “Chinese investors” are involved in petty trade kicking the local traders out of business.
“Imagine some of them are becoming hawkers and others vendors,” noted a bitter KACITA member, an advocate for the repatriation of Chinese in petty trade.
Zheng also called upon the government to add more protection/security to Chinese investors saying many robberies have targeted Chinese businessmen.
The government’s move to tighten immigration policy came as a result of traders under Kampala City Traders’ Association (KACITA) became furious with it over “fake” Chinese investors.
Some demonstrated on the streets of Kampala, protesting the “quack” Chinese investors scattered through out in the country. Mr. Zou Xiaoming, the Commercial Attache at the Chinese Embassy pledged more China investment in Africa and, Uganda in particular.
“China will support the African integration process; promote peace and security in Africa.”
Xiaoming added that China investments into Africa had reached $14.7b by the end of 2011, up by 60% from 2009.
He stressed Chinese companies have not only helped diversify the African economy, contributed to local tax revenue, job creation, and found a promising land for overseas expansion. In Uganda, China’s investments have reached $596m in 2011, with about 265 known Chinese companies that have opened up business.
Xiaoming explained in order to take full advantage of the trilateral cooperation mechanism and push the political and economic relation further, it is key to recognize what kind of strategic political and economic roles China could play while Uganda is realizing its goals of becoming a middle income country.
“The other issues should be finding out sectors and ways that Chinese investment could be best explored and used to promote Uganda’s economic growth.
“Set up database of potential investment projects to facilitate Chinese investors and sensitize our people and promote mutual understanding on our cultural differences, such as time sense, incentive measure and enterprises management,” noted Xiaoming.
“Through our joint efforts, I firmly believe that China and Uganda economic cooperation will be much closer, our people will understand each other better, and the friendship between our two countries will be stronger,” said Xiaoming.