China moves forward with investments in Gambia, despite protests

China’s ambassador to Gambia has told the Gambian government his country will invest further in the West African country’s fisheries sector, despite growing protests against a Chinese-backed fishmeal plant.

Ma Jian Chun told Gambian Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources James Peter Gomez in a meeting last week that China wants to direct further investment into Gambia’s fishery and agriculture sector. The minister said China’s fishery investments have brought jobs and helped the economic development, according to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China. 

The statement made no mention of the protests by residents in the Gambian fishing village of Gunjur, who are upset about alleged pollution and overfishing by Chinese fishmeal factories – among them firms like Golden Lead, which has drawn anger for waste discharges into the ocean along a section of coast that is a popular tourist destination. 

The meeting between Chinese and Gambian officials occurred as African agriculture and fisheries ministers met in the central Chinese city of Changsha for the China Africa Economic Development Summit, which featured discussions on Chinese investment in Africa and export of African commodities into China. 

China recently donated 2,734 metric tons of parboiled rice to Gambia and the country is adding a new patrol boat to its waters this year, drawing on funding from international donors to increase surveillance, the fishery minister announced recently. 

Seeking to counter Chinese influence in Africa, the U.S. government last month launched a blueprint, Prosper Africa, which aims to increase investment and trade access for the continent. It has also backed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), a trade agreement between 49 African Union member states that has the goal of creating a single market with a single currency.


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