China says 31 nationals detained in Zambia for illegal mining – by Ben Blanchard and Chris Mfula (Reuters U.S. – June 6, 2017)

BEIJING/LUSAKA – Zambia has detained 31 Chinese nationals for illegal mining in the African country’s copper belt but has failed to provide strong proof of their crimes, a senior Chinese diplomat said as he lodged a complaint.

Lin Songtian, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s director-general for African affairs, told a Zambian diplomat in Beijing that China understood and supported actions to crack down on illegal mining, the ministry said in a statement late on Sunday.

However, Zambia had not only not provided strong proof of the crimes of the 31 detained but had also detained a pregnant woman and two victims of malaria, Lin said.  “China expresses serious concern and resolute opposition to this,” the ministry cited Lin as saying.

Zambia’s Home Affairs Minister Stepehen Kampyongo said he held a meeting with Chinese Embassy officials on Monday over the matter but declined to give further details, saying Zambia’s immigration department was handling the matter.

Immigration department chief Moolo Milimo told the Times of Zambia that the 31 Chinese, who were arrested in the copperbelt town of Chingola, would be deported, according to the newspaper’s online edition.

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