Nairobi News


Chinese Embassy in Nairobi breaks silence on China Square business row

The Chinese Embassy in Kenya has broken its silence over the controversy surrounding China Square, a Chinese-owned supermarket in Nairobi.

In a statement on Wednesday, the embassy said that it has taken note of the situation and called on the government of Kenya to intervene and protect Chinese enterprises and Chinese citizens amid the unfolding controversy.

“We would like to reiterate that the Embassy supports deepening trade and investment cooperation between China and Kenya, and supports Chinese enterprises and Chinese citizens in conducting business in accordance with Kenyan laws and regulations,” the embassy said.

“At the same time, we hope that the Kenyan government will protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and Chinese citizens and create an inclusive and friendly business environment so as to better promote China-Kenya practical cooperation and bring benefit to our two countries and two peoples,” the embassy further said.

Also read: Foreign PS defers with Moses Kuria as China Square debate rages on

This comes a day after China’s Director-General of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, Wu Peng, called for the creation of a non-arbitrary and non-discriminatory investment environment between the two nations.

The Chinese statement comes after a series of protests by the Nyamakima traders in Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD).

The local traders insist that they should be in charge of controlling the wholesale and retail ends of the supply chain in the country. They accuse the Chinese of taking over the wholesale and retail supply businesses by lowering the price of their commodities by up to 45 per cent of what they sell the wares.

The retail shop, which is located in UniCity Mall along Thika Superhighway, has been a matter of public discourse after Trade and Investment Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria led small-scale traders in Nairobi in claiming that Kenyan businesses are being forced to shut down due to unhealthy competition.

Also read: Chinese government responds to Moses Kuria on China Square

Last week, Mr Kuria had instructed China Square, a mall located along Thika Road to give out their lease to Kenyatta University.

“I have today given an offer to Prof Paul Wainaina who is the Kenyatta University Vice Chancellor, to buy out the lease for China Square, Unicity Mall and hand it over to the Gikomba, Nyamakima, Muthurwa and Eastleigh Traders Association. We welcome Chinese investors to Kenya as manufacturers, not traders,” Mr Kuria said on social media.

However, according to the owner of China Square, Mr Lei Cheng, Mr Kuria’s position is discriminatory.

“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,” Mr Cheng said.

Also read: Government to raise taxes on cheaper imports amid China square row