Thirty-seven suspected Chinese gangsters, repatriated from Angola at the weekend, will face trial in China on charges of kidnapping, robbing and extorting their compatriots. This marks a new step by the Chinese government in protecting its citizens abroad.
The task facing China at the moment seems especially thorny. Some foreign observers have commented that the troubles afflicting overseas Chinese workers in Africa and the Middle East are often aggravated by the highly volatile environment in these areas. As a late economic bloomer, China has to dig up gold from troubled sands as it looks for business opportunities abroad. Providing protection for Chinese individuals in unstable parts poses serious challenges. This is much more complex and trivial than national security in the traditional sense.
Take Angola, an oil-rich country in southern Africa where the local Chinese population has soared to close to 260,000. This growing community has been preyed on by Chinese gangsters in the last couple of years. In 2011, there were 14 kidnapping cases targeting Chinese, leading to five killed and eight injured. Shootings, arson, robberies and forced prostitution that local Chinese have suffered in recent years have sparked huge panic. This situation is not unique to Angola, as the Chinese presence increases across the world.
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