China calls on citizens to leave eastern Congo after attacks

BEIJING (AP) — China yesterday urged its citizens to leave three provinces in eastern Congo as violence intensifies in the mineral-rich region.

A posting from the Chinese Embassy in Kinshasa on the WeChat online messaging said a number of Chinese citizens had been attacked and kidnapped over the past month in the provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, where several anti-government rebel groups have a presence.

It said Chinese residing in the three provinces should provide their personal details by December 10 and make plans to leave for safer parts of Congo. Those in the districts of Bunia, Djugu, Beni, Rutshuru, Fizi, Uvira and Mwenga should leave immediately, it said, adding that any who do not do so “will have to bear the consequences themselves”.

“We ask that all Chinese citizens and Chinese-invested businesses in Congo please pay close attention to local conditions, increase their safety awareness and emergency preparedness, and avoid unnecessary outside travel,” the embassy said.

No details of the incidents were given, although the embassy last month reported five Chinese citizens were abducted from a mining operation in South Kivu, which borders Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania.

It warned at the time that the security situation in the area was “extremely complex and grim” and that there was little possibility of sending help in the event of an attack or kidnapping.

No details were given about those kidnapped, who they worked for or who was suspected of taking them.

Several armed groups including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, known by its French acronym FDLR, the Mai-Mai and the M23 regularly vie for control of eastern Congo’s natural resources.

Despite the danger, Chinese businesses have moved into Congo and other unstable African states in a quest for cobalt and other rare minerals and resources. Chinese workers have also been subject to kidnappings and attacks in Pakistan and other countries with active insurgencies.

Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting with visiting Congolese dignitaries at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. PHOTO: AP