The Minister of Information, Mr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, has appealed to the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana to help call to order the few recalcitrant illegal Chinese miners in the country who are bringing the hard-earned reputation of China in Ghana into disrepute.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said he was making the appeal in view of the fact that some Chinese had been in the local news for the wrong reasons, particularly for indulging in illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’, in recent times.
He was quick, however, to add that the national campaign against galamsey was not targeted at only Chinese but anybody engaged in the illegality, regardless of his or her nationality.
The minister underscored the need for Ghana and China to strengthen their collaboration to facilitate the national campaign to end illegal mining.
In an interaction with the Chinese Ambassador to Ghana, Ms Sun Baohong, when she paid a courtesy call on him in his office in Accra Tuesday, Mr Abdul-Hamid quoted the admonition: “Do unto others what you want them to do unto you,” and urged the Ambassador to sensitise Chinese in Ghana to the need to be law-abiding and conduct themselves in ways that China would have Ghanaians conduct themselves in that country.
The two used the meeting to explore more partnership opportunities for the mutual benefit of both countries.
“We would like to build a relationship of mutual trust, cooperation and understanding,” Mr Abdul-Hamid said, adding: “Of course, China would not want Ghanaians to disrespect its laws and indulge in activities that have damning consequences on the country, and we expect same from Chinese in Ghana.”
He asked Ms Baohong to help ensure that Chinese in Ghana lived and conducted their business in ways that were not injurious to the country.
“We cannot, as governments, purport to have a good relationship and try to enhance our mutual relationships while our citizens are violating laws in each other’s country and engaging in illegalities that are harmful to both countries,” he added.
That, he said, would certainly destroy the relationship between the two countries.
He, therefore, underscored the need for the governments of both countries to educate their citizenry to obey the laws of any country they travelled to.
Mr Abdul-Hamid said galamsey was currently the biggest headache Ghana was faced with, considering the destruction it was causing to the environment and natural resources.
“We are frightened by the consequences, which include the likelihood of importing water as a country due to shortage of water if the country does not take steps to salvage the situation now.
“We need you to help us in that regard by sensitising them to obey our laws,” he said.
The minister expressed gratitude to China and Chinese businesses in Ghana for their tremendous contribution to Ghana’s economy.
“There are many Chinese people conducting legitimate businesses and contributing to the local economy and we appreciate their efforts very much. But we cannot allow the few recalcitrant Chinese to bring the name of China into disrepute,” he said.
He said currently China was a major trading destination for Ghanaian businessmen and women and described that country as Ghana’s major development partner.
“China is a great example of how a modern economy should look like, so you would certainly be important stakeholders to us on how we model the local economy and we will be happy to collaborate with you for our mutual benefit,” he said.
For her part, Ms Baohong assured the government that the Chinese government was ready to collaborate with Ghana to end illegal mining and deepen the cooperation between the two countries.
“Illegal mining issues have been top on my agenda since I assumed office and I have been communicating with the relevant authorities in Ghana over the issue and how to find amicable solutions to the menace,” she said.
She described galamsey as a complicated and comprehensive issue and underscored the need for some weak links in the national campaign, such as immigration, to be tackled.
Ms Baohong recalled that the friendly ties between the two countries dated back to the era of the first presidents of both countries.
“While the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was in opposition, Dr Mahamadu Bawumia visited China and that trip contributed to the formulation of the party’s one district, one factory, one village, one dam and planting for food and jobs policies which are similar to what the delegation he led saw in China,” she said.
“We, therefore, feel that we can actually be a part of Ghana’s development agenda and we are ready to work with the government to achieve a win-win situation,” she added.
Ms Baohong said China would continue to explore more opportunities to support and cooperate with Ghana to boost the mutual relationships of both countries.
In recent times, there have been intense public outcry against the devastating effects of galamsey, particularly on water bodies, in mining communities.
Experts have warned of a possible water shortage in the country by 2030 because of those activities that are polluting water bodies with heavy metals.
The negative impact of galamsey on the country’s socio-economic development, human sustainability, food security and access to potable water has resulted in major key stakeholders calling for an end to it.