By Alois Vinga
THE Chinese Embassy in Harare has accused the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) of damaging strong bilateral relations that exist between Zimbabwe and the Far East giant.
It said the labour body was doing this through a systematic campaign aimed at unnecessarily damaging the image of the Asian nation.
Last month, ZCTU publicised images and details exposing slave-like working conditions at a Norton-based ceramic tiles manufacturer, Sunny Yi Feng.
The workers at the factory, the ZCTU said, were poorly paid and live in over-crowded accommodation exposing them to chemicals, which cause serious respiratory complications among abuses.
But in a statement released Friday, the Chinese Embassy dismissed the labour union’s allegations describing them as a ploy, not only meant to discredit the Norton firm, but all the companies of Chinese origin.
Chinese nationals and companies have vast interests in Zimbabwe ranging from mining mainly gold and chrome, farming and running small retail shops stocked with various products imported from China.
The Zimbabwe government describes China as an ‘all-weather friend’.
“Recently, some have made a series of accusations on social media against Chinese enterprises in Zimbabwe by circulating some unidentified video clips. All these accusations ultimately target China- Zimbabwe cooperation and China’s foreign policy towards Zimbabwe,” the embassy said in its statement.
“Obviously, this is an organised and systematic smear campaign against China.”
The embassy maintained all companies originating from China operate in accordance with the laws and regulations which protect the legitimate rights and interests of overseas Chinese enterprises and citizens.
The diplomatic mission maintained its government always requires Chinese-owned companies to abide by the laws and regulations of the host countries and respect local culture and customs.
It challenged ZCTU to avail detailed facts and desist from basing on fragmented video clips and irresponsible accusations.
The intentions behind the ZCTU’s allegations were questioned amid assurances that the Asian nation would not be shaken by such exposures.
“China-Zimbabwe friendship and cooperation will not be affected by slander or vilifying by any individual or force. The move to undermine the good relations between China and Zimbabwe will make us more confident and motivated to develop profound friendship and fruitful cooperation between our two countries,” the embassy said.
However, the ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo dismissed the embassy’s statement arguing the labour body gathered the evidence following complaints from Sunny Yi Feng employees that several of their counterparts had been injured or killed while at work.
Female employees were also reported to be collapsing due gas leaks exposures.
“Instead of spending money on public relations stunts, the company must work on these issues. The ZCTU will continue to escalate the matter even up to the international level. We cannot sit by and while workers are being abused,” added Moyo.