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How Chinese Miners Bribed Militants For Protection, AccessTo Nigeria’s Mineral Reserves
The possibility that Beijing may be indirectly supporting terrorism in the biggest economy in Africa is raised by the fact that Chinese mining tycoons are paying militant organizations in Nigeria in order to gain access to the nation’s mineral resources.
According to a report by The Times UK, Chinese businesses operating in Nigerian regions where assaults are common have agreements with rebels over security. Due to the numerous conflicts in the nation, attacks against the estimated 100,000–200,000 Chinese citizens who reside in Nigeria have increased over the past few years.
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51 Chinese persons are reported to have been abducted between 2019 and 2018; three of them were killed. There are probably a lot more incidents that go unreported.
The Chinese embassy in Abuja has now urged its citizens to “strengthen civil defence, physical defence and technical defence measures”.
China is Nigeria’s No 1 trading partner and has more than 1,000 companies registered in the country, after a decade in which it has poured vast sums into infrastructure projects to overtake the US as Africa’s largest investor.
A Lagos-based analytical company named SBM Intelligence shared research with The Times that showed footage of militant commanders boasting that they are so powerful that Chinese workers who want to work in their areas must pay them “rent” on social media and WhatsApp. They have seized large portions of northwest Nigeria, making it the deadliest war zone in the nation.
Researchers discovered that interactions with militants are so pervasive in one area of Zamfara that some of the residents act as spies for Chinese miners who have expanded throughout Nigeria and are in charge of the gold-digging operations. Some of the world’s greatest gold reserves are in this nation.
Often operating informally in small groups as contractors registered to clearing-house companies, they speak local languages and can stay for years at a time living in remote areas that western companies consider off-limits.
Chinese engineers and staff on hydroelectric dams have described the “hell on earth” of being kidnapped, amid local perceptions that they carry wads of cash. Miners attempt to blend into their host communities but are nonetheless targeted, notably in the case of seven Chinese men who spent more than five months in captivity last year after a militant group in June stormed their mining site at Shiroro in Niger state, leaving 48 people dead.
Chinese mining contractors, who local communities have accused of abuses and paying pitiful wages, often smuggle minerals out of the country illegally and are sometimes arrested. In 2020, 27 miners, including 17 said to be Chinese, were arrested in Osun state. Last October a Chinese citizen, Gang Deng, 29, was jailed for five years after being found with 25 tonnes of a mineral thought to be lepidolite, containing lithium, which is used in batteries.
A Chinese smuggler was paid to assist a jihadist group in transporting metal ore out of the country, according to a report by SBM, which also discovered Chinese employees participating in the Boko Haram fight in northeastern Nigeria.
Reports of Chinese firms sponsoring terrorist groups, according to MP Alicia Kearns, chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee and the China Research Group, are “deeply concerning.” She requested help from the British government in “strengthening regulatory oversight and governance of Chinese companies in the sector” for Nigeria.