On Tuesday, over a thousand Kenyan traders demonstrated against Chinese merchants in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. The demonstration follows criticism caused by the opening of China Square, a general item retailer with prices that are, according to local media, often 45 percent less than those of locally owned businesses.
China is Africa’s main commercial partner, and it is believed that there are more than 1 million Chinese living there. With William Ruto’s victory in the presidential election last year, attention was focused on Kenya’s relationship with China. Ruto pledged to expel Chinese people who were working illegally and to expose government contracts reached with China under his predecessor.
The local traders marched to the vice president’s office and to parliament while wearing the dust jackets they use at their retail locations to present a petition against the Chinese retailers. During the demonstration, one banner that said, “The Chinese cannot be importers, retailers, wholesalers, and hawkers,” was raised high. People shouted, “Chinese must go!”
Moses Kuria, Kenya’s trade minister, has proposed taking over China Square’s lease from its Chinese owner and handing it over to local traders, but Korir Sing’oei, the ministry of foreign affairs’ principal secretary, emphasized on Twitter that all investors are welcome, regardless of their nationality.
Moses Kuria, Kenya’s trade minister /The Standard/
On Twitter, Wu Peng, the senior African representative at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, praised Sing’oei’s guarantee. Lei Cheng, the proprietor of China Square, allegedly told a local newspaper that he was motivated to create the store because he thought the pricing at a Nairobi supermarket were outrageous.