Chinese-owned retail shop, China Square, at Kenyatta University in Nairobi. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China has thrown its weight on the move by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria to close down China Square.

This is through a statement by the Chinese Embassy in Kenya shared on its official twitter page.

“The Embassy has taken note of the recent situation on the issue of “China Square”, and 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 statement read in part.

The embassy has asked the Kenyan government to protect the rights of its citizens.

“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 said.

The statement comes a day after hundreds of traders held demonstrations in Nairobi’s central business district on Tuesday, February 28, citing infiltration of the Kenyan market by Chinese businesspeople.

The traders, drawn from downtown centres, said the Chinese traders had driven them out of business, claiming they were offering goods at extremely low prices.

Peris, an electronics dealer at Nyamakima, told The Standard: “I’m here to protest against the Chinese traders’ invasion of the Kenyan market. The foreigners are playing the manufacturer and seller’s role at the same time, which shouldn’t be the case. In Kenya, they are the distributors and retailers. They’ve locked us out of business.”

The traders, holding placards and singing, marched through CBD streets, including Harambee Avenue, which hosts the offices of the president and deputy president.

Police were forced to repulse them, blocking the traders from holding demos on Haile Selassie Avenue, among other major roads.

The demos come on the back of temporary closure of China Square, a major store on Thika Superhighway that offers various goods at discounted prices.