Beijing seeks assurances of safety for Chinese nationals and their property in Kinshasa, Congo after riots

The Chinese embassy in Democratic Republic of the Congo has launched an emergency plan to protect Chinese residents after their businesses were looted during massive demonstrations in the capital, Kinshasa, state media reported.

Chen Zhihong, the embassy’s chargé d’affaires, told China Radio International yesterday that diplomats had helped 180 Chinese merchants move to safer areas after more than 40 Chinese shops were looted.

The ransacking occurred on Monday and Tuesday last week. There were no reports of deaths of Chinese nationals, although three might have been injured, Chen said.

The protests broke out in the city in opposition to a proposed law that would enable President Joseph Kabila to stay in office beyond 2016, when his second term is scheduled to end.

Kabila came to power in 2001 following the assassination of his father, former president Laurent Kabila.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that 11 people had been killed in the east of the capital, where overturned cars, burning tyres and shattered glass littered the streets.

There were unconfirmed reports that dozens of students were killed on Wednesday morning when troops and police fired live rounds as they stormed the University of Kinshasa.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing told CRI that the Chinese government had asked the Congolese government to protect Chinese nationals and their property.

Trade between China and the resource-rich nation increased rapidly in the early 2000s. Leading exports from the country include copper ore, cobalt and hard woods.