Karonga residents bemoan influx of Chinese traders

Business people in Karonga district have always put the blame of their dwindling businesses on Chinese nationals whom they accused of peddling dirt-cheap goods.

Even many people who testified during a Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the July 20 anti – government protests in Karonga last month, they told the Commissioners that Chinese shops were looted because people hate them.

And in new twist, vendors in Karonga have asked the government to chase them.

In a petition presented to the District Commissioner’s Office and signed by 33 vendors, they claim that the Chinese continue to suffocate their businesses hence they are finding it hard to make ends meet.

As economic ties between China and Africa deepen, hundreds of thousands of Chinese migrants, like this store owner in Lilongwe, Malawi, are discovering the continent. Photo: Benedicte Kurzen for The New York Times

District Council Director of Administration Steve Chima said the petition would be forwarded to government.

During the July 20 anti – government protests in Malawi last year, most shops that were looted belong to Chinese nationals.

In December 2011, six Chinese shops were closed in Dedza because the owners were operating without permits.

The local merchants say they could not compete with Chinese businessmen who flooded Malawi with cheap products.

They urge the government to address their grievances by curbing  trade by Chinese businessmen who have built a strong presence in Malawi.

“Many Chinese are engaging in unfair competition with Malawians. They are doing petty trade yet they come in as investors,” complained one of the vendors.

Most Chinese traders declined to talk, some saying they spoke no English.

Malawian  president, Bingu wa Mutharika, appealed to Malaiwans to be more positive about investment from Beijing, saying the Chinese government has brought a lot of development to this country.

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