China asks Angola to tighten security as kidnappings rise

By: 
Reuters

Chinese businesses have asked Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to do more to protect foreigners after a string of kidnappings, in rare public sign of tension between Beijing and its biggest trading partner in Africa.

A sharp economic downturn in Angola after a year of subdued oil prices has helped fuel a rise in kidnapping syndicates who demand ransoms of up to 100 million kwanza ($750,000), the Chinese chamber of commerce in Angola said in a letter sent to dos Santos's office and the interior ministry.

"We ask the Angolan government to take into account the interests of foreign investors," said the letter seen by Reuters on Tuesday.

"There should be immediate measures taken to cut this wave of kidnappings. So far, the police have been incapable of dismantling these kidnapping networks," the letter said.

Angola's presidency and police were not available to comment.

China has rapidly increased its influence in Angola, including through around $20 billion in oil-for-infrastructure loans, since a 27-year civil war ended in the southern African country in 2002.

Many Angolans are angered by the increasing Chinese influence in what is sub-Saharan Africa's third largest economy. They believe powerful politicians and Chinese companies gain the biggest benefit from opaque loan deals.

Angola, which relies on oil exports for around 95 percent of foreign exchange earnings, has been hammered by a drop in crude prices, increasing its reliance on loans from Beijing. Angola sends around half of its oil to China.

There are around 50 Chinese state and 400 private companies operating in Angola.

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