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China Square is ‘for the middle class, not hustlers’ Moses Kuria says

Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria has continued with his onslaught on China Square, which resumed operations on Monday after a week of closure.

Speaking on Wednesday while appearing before the National Assembly’s Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Committee to deliberate on the 2023 Budget Policy Statement, Mr Kuria said he has a duty to speak on behalf of Kenyan traders and manufacturers.

Mr Kuria said China Square is for the middle class in the country and does not favour low-income earners, commonly referred to as Hustlers.

“This China Square… is there a matatu stage there… there is none. So who is shopping at China Square? These are people driving, the middle class of this country,” Mr Kuria said.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), they counted 2000 vehicles. This is a middle-class conspiracy and it has nothing to do with the hustlers who hold the bulk of the economy,” he added.

Also read: Kenyan influencers now divided over the China Square hype

“I cannot frustrate investors but some people are dumping (fake products) on us. That middle-class man who is shopping there has paid fees for his children, but that real hustler of Dandora struggling to sell fish does not know where the next meal is going to come from.”

Kuria announced that plans are underway to establish a Kenya Square in a bid to support local traders.

“We have not forced anyone to close their business. But I maintain we should not discourage our traders. I have a duty to speak for the Nyamakima trader. The middle class wants to buy cheap. I continue supporting local manufacturing. We want to have our own Kenya Square,” he said.

Mr Kuria was responding to members of the committee, who raised concerns about the long-term fate of China Square.

Last week, the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) released goods worth Sh50 million that were seized at China Square over claims that they were fake Finder Tools.

Also read: China Square back in business after a week of standoff

The agency released the goods after the complainant, Smithmo Company Ltd, which had suspected the sale of counterfeit Finder Tools at the outlet, withdrew its complaint.

China Square, located at Unicity Mall on Thika Road, was set up in January and became a hit with Nairobians for its low-priced items. This did not go down well with local traders.

Mr Kuria said he had asked the Kenyatta University vice-chancellor to buy out Mr Lei Cheng’s lease and hand it over to the Gikomba, Nyamakima, Muthurwa and Eastleigh traders, and potentially edge out the Chinese businessman.

“We welcome Chinese investors to Kenya as manufacturers not traders,” Kuria tweeted.

China Square owner Mr Cheng defended his business, insisting it was legal and “centered on healthy competition.”

“We have cooperated with all government directives for opening a business in Kenya and we are here to break the monopoly. The people who are fighting us feel threatened because Kenyans now know we exist and we are not exploiting them in pricing,” Cheng said.

Also read: Kenya Square – Inside government’s grand plans to counter China Square