TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Three Chinese citizens in Zambia have been murdered as tensions rise between Beijing and its African trade partners after numerous alleged incidents of racial discrimination.
Zambia Police Spokesperson Esther Katongo on Sunday (May 24) announced that police had been notified of an aggravated robbery and murder which took place that day in Makeni, a suburb of the capital city of Lusaka, reported Zambian Watchdog. Katongo said initial reports were that a fire had broken out in a warehouse owned by Chinese citizens.
However, when police and firefighters arrived on the scene, the Chinese nationals were nowhere to be found. After police searched their homes, which were located behind the warehouse, they found bloodstains in a doorway as well as a blood-soaked machete.
Katongo said that witnesses had assisted police in apprehending one 22-year-old suspect thus far. She added that the badly burned remains of a 52-year-old Chinese woman identified as Hu New Cao were found in the smoldering ruins of the clothing warehouse.
According to a preliminary Zambian police investigation, three suspects, including two men and one woman, entered the warehouse, where they allegedly murdered the Chinese before robbing them and setting fire to the scene to destroy the evidence.
The owner of the warehouse was identified as Lu Yutong, a Chinese citizen from Nantong. Lu was in China at the time of the attack, but his wife was among the victims, along with two employees.
Tensions have been on the rise between local Zambians and Chinese business owners as the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic rages. Since the pandemic struck the southern African country in March, many Chinese business owners have implemented what they refer to as "closed-off management."
When Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa inspected a Chinese-owned cement factory undergoing "closed-off management," he described the conditions as "slavery reloaded." On his Facebook page, he also wrote that "Black Zambians did not originate coronavirus. It originated in China."
On Monday, a video surfaced showing Sampa closing down a Chinese barbershop and Chinese restaurant for refusing to provide service to Zambians. He told the business owners that despite the fact that their licenses had been revoked, they continued to illegally serve Chinese customers, adding that the prices had been only listed in Chinese, not English or Nyanja.
赞比亚卢萨卡市市长迈尔斯·桑帕（Miles Sampa）关闭了在卢萨卡的一家中国理发店与一家中国餐馆，因他们拒绝向赞比亚人提供服务。 pic.twitter.com/Nsyfbetmsq— 唐嫣 (@blue500000) May 25, 2020
That same day, CGTN News producer Shen Shiwei uploaded a video of the scene of the crime. Shen wrote that the crime was apparently a robbery and murder and that "Anxiety and insecurity of local Chinese are rising."
Camera footage reveals a brutal triple murder of Chinese nationals by three blacks suspects in #Lusaka #Zambia. The lady’s body was even burnt to ashes. New information shows that is was apparently a robbery and murder. Anxiety and insecurity of local Chinese are rising. #China pic.twitter.com/0TBv10N35M— Shen Shiwei沈诗伟 (@shen_shiwei) May 25, 2020
In April, there were numerous reports of Africans being forced into quarantine in Guangzhou despite having not traveled since the pandemic began. There were also instances of arbitrary evictions of Africans and cases of restaurants such as McDonald's barring African customers.
In retaliation for discrimination and racist comments against Africans in China, there have been incidents of workers vandalizing Chinese factories in Africa. As the virus takes an economic toll on China's African trading partners, many are also pushing for relief from the immense debt the nations have been burdened with.