Former President John Dramani Mahama has downplayed the effect of the deportation of Chinese nationals on the diplomatic relationship between Ghana and the Asian powerhouse.
In an interview with Accra-based TV3, the former president said he deported almost five thousand Chinese nationals who were engaged in illegal mining activities popularly called “galamsey”.
He said, however, that this action did not have any effect on the relationship between the two countries.
Mahama said he took the decision to deport the Chinese nationals not considering the relationship between the two countries stressing Ghanaians living in China will equally face the law in the Asian country when they breach it.
He was commenting on the recent rearrest of Chinese galamsey kingpin, Aisha Huang.
“When I was president, we value the relationship with China. But if you’re Ghanaian and you go to China and you engage in illegality, they don’t say because of the good relations they have with Ghana they are going to let you go scot-free.
“You will face the full rigors of the law in China and I don’t doubt that there are some of our citizens in jail in China. When I became president, I was faced with this same illegal gold mining.
“I deported almost 5,000 illegal Chinese miners. I didn’t say because of the good relations we have with China, we should allow them to continue to engage in this illicit activity. And we collaborated with the Chinese embassy, they got [Boeing] 747’s and came and took their nationals away. It didn’t destroy our relationships,” Mahama said.
Aisha Huang was recently arrested for engaging in galamsey-related activities. She is reported to have entered the country via the Togo border after her deportation in 2018.
She has since been remanded and is set to make a court appearance with three others on September 14.
It will be recalled that Aisha Huang gained notoriety as an illegal mining kingpin in 2017. She was arrested for the same conduct but later deported with the state discontinuing the trial against her.
Justifying why the state had to deport the Chinese national, the Senior Minister, Nana Yaw Osafo-Maafo, addressing a town hall meeting on April 18, 2019, revealed that, “Putting that woman [Aisha Huang] in jail in Ghana is not going to solve your money problem. It is not going to make you happy or me happy.”
But President Akufo-Addo in 2019 said the deportation of the Chinese galamsey queenpin was a ‘mistake’.
Meanwhile, the president has given his full backing to the Attorney General, Godfred Dame, to prosecute Aisha Huang to the latter.