‘Good News’ From Guangzou Province?

I was intrigued by a report that appeared on the Daily Graphic website on May 31, 2018, which said that the Ghana Ambassador to China, Mr Edward Boateng, had told the paper that the authorities in China’s Guanghou Province had expressed an interest in helping Ghana to reclaim those of her rivers that had been polluted by galamsey operators.

Mr Boateng said that some time ago, the rivers of Guangzhou were polluted, “just like how most of our rivers are, currently, but they have been able to address the situation to the level that the water in their rivers [is] very clean, as though nothing had happened”.

QUOTE: Mr Boateng observed that Ghana could not solve the issue of galamsey merely by sacking the Chinese who were engaged in the practice. He said the Chinese could not have travelled from China to Ghana and to those communities all by themselves, insisting that sacking the Chinese amounted to scratching the surface of the problem.

“How does somebody sitting in Sanheling in Guangzhou in China know that there is gold in my village? We bring them, and we cannot solve the problem by kicking out the Chinese,” Mr Boateng insisted. …. [He] wondered how some Chinese could enter Ghana without passports…

The Governor of the Guangzhou Province [had] explained [to Mr Boateng] that he had wanted to arrange for the repatriation of all Chinese ‘galamseyers’, but they could not trace any documentation on the movements of those Chinese. [Mr Boatng] said even though the activities of the Chinese in Ghana were a serious concern, “I think the issue has been overblown in the media that the Chinese were the problem”. UNQUOTE

First of all, I welcome the interest shown by the Governor of Guangzhou Province in helping Ghana clean up its polluted rivers. But I think such co-operation between China and Ghana can only succeed if done in a realistic manner, and not on the basis of “diplomatic” self-delusion.

It is not true that China cannot trace the movements of any of its citizens. Tell that to anyone suspected of being a potential “dissident” in China! Each citizen has an identity card, which is the most important possession of the individual. No Chinese citizen can obtain heat facilities, education or housing, to say anything of an international passport, without the facility being cross-referenced to his or her identity card. And, of course, it is impossible to enter or leave China without it being recorded.

The reason is that for decades, China was the target of the most hostile international espionage and subversion efforts, not only by the Western Powers but also, by China’s erstwhile “comrades” in the Soviet bloc. China could not have maintained its internal security and grown its economy to its current state of impregnable strength, if it had not kept a very close eye on the movements of its citizens.

It is, therefore, unhelpful to the good health of Ghana-China friendship to pretend that all is well with it now. Yes, Ghanaian criminals are involved in bringing Chinese nationals to Ghana. They are criminals because they employ corrupt and unlawful methods to influence Ghanaian immigration officers to admit the Chinese into the country without following the rules and regulations.

It is worthy of note that despite the corruption in the Ghana Immigration Service, Chinese citizens unlawfully brought to Ghana are periodically deported. In 2013 alone, 713 Chinese were deported. (And this was at a time when the NDC Government was bending over backwards to please the Chinese, because it was seeking loans from them.)

Had the Chinese authorities shown an adequate awareness of the problem that had begun to dog Ghana-China relations through galamsey – as far back as 2013 – they could have begun to do something serious about it, and maybe some of our rivers might have been spared their current ruination. I maintain that even if Ghana had a quisling government, China had the capability of coming to its own objective conclusion of what was in Ghana’s long-term interest and what was not.

The ruination of our rivers was caused by the use of excavators and chanfang or to-to-toh machines to turn our riverbeds upside down and wash the sand and pebbles for gold, using mercury and other poisonous chemicals. Indeed, Mr Boateng should rather get the Ghana Government to invite the Governor of Guanghou Province to Ghana to come and see things for himself, instead of “working” to send the Minister of Lands & Mineral Resources, Mr Peter Amewu to China.

Finally, Mr Boateng should revise his view that the Ghana media had “overblown” the part Chinese citizens have played in bringing our galamsey situation to where it is. Yes, Ghanaian criminals do share the blame. But what does Mr Boateng think would have happened to a Ghanaian woman who went and set up house in a major Chinese city, and used other women, as well as ferocious dogs and corrupt Chinese officials, to engage in a business venture that the Chinese Government had barred to foreigners?

The Ghana media are not, generally, as vigilant with regard to galamsey as they could be, give or take a few notable exceptions. “Overblown” is certainly not what they have done! On the contrary – who are the Ghanaians who aid the Chinese to import excavators and chanfangs into Ghana for galamsey purposes? The Ghana media are not interested in finding out. Who are the Ghanaians who provide bail to Chinese nationals taken to the courts of Ghana, on charges relating to galamsey? If the Ghanaian media have published anything relating to that, it has escaped my notice. Please, Mr Boateng, don’t rub it in.