China’s influence in Kenya is heavily felt in the country’s economy
A recent incident involving the shutdown and then reopening of the operations of a Chinese trade shop in Kenya has brought to the forefront straining relations between the two countries. The Chinese Embassy in Kenya issued a statement in reaction to the closing of China Square on March 1. Following several engagements between the Kenyan government and the Chinese Community in Kenya, the retail store resumed operations.
In February, a group of Kenyan traders in Nairobi organized a demonstration against Chinese traders who they claimed were engaging in unfair trade practices and taking business away from local entrepreneurs. The traders marched to the deputy president’s office demanding an end to what they called a “China invasion”:
Kenya’s current relationship status with China can aptly be described as, “It’s complicated.”
Only days after the store was closed following a directive by Cabinet Secretary for Investments, Trade, and Industry, Moses Kuria, the Chinese Embassy in Kenya released a statement via their Twitter handle. The statement urged the Kenyan government to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises and citizens, and create an inclusive and friendly business environment. Shortly after that statement, Kuria backtracked on his directive and the store reopened.
The Chinese store row is now at the heart of a simmering strained relationship that has previously only been happening behind closed doors as Kenya struggles to restructure its Chinese debt.