World

Anti-Chinese sentiment rising in Madagascar

SOAMAHAMANINA, MADAGASCAR The mine had not yet even opened, but Madagascans were already seething with such vitriolic rage that the Chinese management quit Soamahamanina, leaving behind empty tents and cigarette butts.

For months, the small city in central Madagascar was engulfed by protests targeted at a Chinese gold-mining company, Jiuxing.

Every Thursday, city residents would demonstrate against Jiuxing, which had secured a 40-year gold-mining licence on a 7,500ha piece of land.

For the protesters, the mining operation risked ruining their farms - one element of a nationwide aversion to the new wave of Chinese investors on the large Indian Ocean island.

Across the country, Madagascans have openly expressed their hostility towards the growing presence of China, their country's largest trading partner.

Anti-Chinese sentiment is on the rise in Africa as Beijing increases its business presence on the continent for natural resources while flooding the markets with made-in-China goods.

"Madagascar belongs to the Madagascans, not the Chinese or any other foreigners," said Fenohasina, a student.

"Forty years of operation - that is called selling the country," said Marise-Edine, a street vendor.

Many farmers who were eager to take advantage of the windfall and had agreed to sell their land to the Chinese miner, are now regretting it.

But a local worker at Jiuxing blames the hostilities on politics. "It's people from the outside who are encouraging people here to dislike the Chinese," said Chrysostome Rakotondrazafy, a Jiuxing Mines foreman. "There is political manipulation behind all this."

Buckling under the weight of the relentless protests, the Chinese mining workers had little choice but to pack their bags and leave in October.

"As a company, we think we have the right to stay, but for the sake of social appeasement, we chose to withdraw," said Ms Stella Andriamamonjy, the mine's spokesman.- AFP

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