The Zambian has agreed to release all 31 detained Chinese citizens, said an official from the overseas Chinese association in Copperbelt Province in Zambia on Monday.
Overseas Chinese Association chief Wang Xin told the Hongxing News, a news site affiliated with Chengdu Business Daily, that he was told by an employee at the Chinese Embassy in Zambia that the Zambian government agreed to release the 31 detained Chinese citizens if they leave Zambia on Monday. He added the 31 will be allowed to return to the country in the future.
China’s foreign ministry said Zambian authorities arrested the 31 employees of seven China-owned mining companies on Thursday for illegal mining.
The ministry said Zambian authorities have failed to follow correct law enforcement procedures, and have not provided strong incriminating evidence.
Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news conference on Monday that China has lodged solemn representations with the Zambian Embassy in China, and urged the Zambian side to release innocent people, deal with the issue properly, and provide humanitarian treatment to detained people.
Hua said that China has always requested its citizens and companies to obey the laws and regulations in other countries, and doesn’t protect illegal behavior.
Hua said that China has dispatched a work team to Zambia and provided consular protection to the detained people, and urged the Zambian side to improve the conditions for these people.
However, China strongly objects to any selective enforcement action against Chinese citizens.
A detained pregnant woman traveled from China to visit her husband, who works at one of the companies. There are growing concerns over her health. Her husband was not arrested because he was not working on the day the 31 Chinese nationals were taken into custody, a local newspaper said.
Lin Songtian, director-general of the Department of African Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, on Sunday urged Zambia to release the detainees.