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Hu Visit to Namibia Met with Criticism

Reaction to President Hu’s visit to Namibia is not all positive. The National Society for Human Rights has some harsh words for Chinese policies at home and abroad.

Phil ya Nangoloh is head of the human rights group. From Windhoek, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the arrival of the Chinese leader.

“President Hu’s visit to Namibia is best remembered by us as a human rights group with regard to human rights violations in China. That is torture and ill treatment, as well as persecution of people like Falun Gong practitioners. Another thing, of course, that comes to our minds is the occupation of Tibet. We are reading reports from Tibetan human rights groups that about 1.2 million have fled the country and that includes Dalai Lama, the respected spiritual leader,” he says.

President Hu released a statement calling the Namibian people “hardworking, talented and full of vitality…sympathizing and supporting each other, forging a profound friendship” with the Chinese people.

Ya Nangoloh says, “I do not disagree. That is history then. The circumstances have changed. China as far as we can see on the ground is just one of those countries that are looking for investment or something to secure their economic interests. Then that is what the Chinese businessmen are precisely doing here. And they are just viewed as exploiters just like you would have said before Namibian independence (about) the South Africans and their western allies.”

Upon visiting African countries, President Hu often announces aid or investment packages worth millions of US dollars. Nevertheless, the human rights leader says, “That is probably so. (But) the results are not seen on the ground. This is based on the complaints, daily complaints, by Namibian workers (about) slave like practices and exploitative labor practices.”

He says Chinese business people are competing with local business owners on the micro-credit level.

Ya Nangoloh says he fears a rise in xenophobia in Namibia against the Chinese that could lead to violence.