Anti-Chinese sentiment rising in Madagascar
Antananarivo, Dec 22: The common people of Madagascar resented the growing presence of the Chinese enterprises in Madagascar leading to tension and discontent. Large Chinese corporation like Jiuxing Mining Corporation is inviting widespread protests from the citizens of this island nation.
Situated off the south-east coast of Africa, Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world. Having developed in isolation, the island nation is famous for its unique wildlife.
Traditionally, the Malagasy economy has been based on the cultivation of paddy rice, coffee, vanilla and cloves. But despite a wealth of natural resources and a tourism industry enriched by its unique environment, the country remains one of the world’s poorest and heavily dependent on foreign aid.
Since gaining independence from France in 1960, Madagascar has experienced repeated political instability, including coups, violent unrest and disputed elections. The recent protests and discontent are simmering out of a largescale presence of Chinese mining companies in the country and their attempt to colonise the nation.
Behind the demonstrations, is the Chinese underground gold mining project that could last for the next 40 years. According to local people, this activity would have disastrous effects on agriculture.
Every Thursday Soamahamanina - a small village located at the centre of the island – was the scene of vocal protests. The Chinese are increasingly seen as a hostile presence.
“Madagascar belongs to the Malagasy - says a student - not the Chinese or foreigners. Forty years of underground exploitation means selling the country”. Much of the population has taken this position, although some farmers who have accepted money from the Chinese in exchange for the land have been bitterly exploited.
Already in 2011, the police had intervened in the Chinese district of the capital to prevent a riot. In any case, the Chinese company disputed by the Malagasy finally decided to withdraw.
The spokesman Jiuxing Star Adriamamonjy said: “The company has the right to stay but preferred to withdraw to calm things down. We hope to return on a new basis and rectify past mistakes”.
Today, China is the largest trading partner of Madagascar. There are more than 800 companies and about 60 thousand Chinese citizens in the country. So far Beijing has invested in more than 740 million dollars Madagascar but despite this, over 90% of the population lives below the poverty line.