This Aisha Huang Saga is a disgrace to both China and Ghana 

Ghana and China have built up a warm relationship since Ghana became independent in 1957.

At that time, China, which had come under Communist rule in 1949 (after the Communist Party had emerged victorious in a protracted civil war against Chiang Kai-shek and his Kuomintang Party), had been deprived of China’s seat at the United Nations by the USA and its allies.  

 The Western allies allowed Chiang Kai-shek, who was operating from Taiwan at the head of a “Nationalist China” government, to occupy China’s seats both in the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.

The ‘Afro-Asian’ bloc at the UN, which had been growing in strength since the Bandung Conference of April 1955, mounted a relentless campaign to give the seats back to China, as represented by the Government of “The People’s Republic of China”. Ghana, as one of the bloc, supported this campaign to the hilt.

In 1971, the Afro-Asian bloc succeeded in regaining for China, her rightful seats at the UN. This remarkable feat was welcomed by the people of the developing world, including Ghana. 

It is therefore disappointing that Ghana and China have been allowing a phenomenon known in Ghana as “galamsey”, to create tension between their people (as against their governments.)   

Galamsey” is a system of illegal mining carried out by so-called “small-scale” miners in Ghana, whereby, instead of carrying out gold mining at deep levels, relatively shallow holes are dug down the ground, as well as beneath riverbeds food and cocoa farms. Because many areas of Ghana are rich in gold deposits, galamsey has become an industry in its own right, illegal though it is.  The harm it has done to Ghana’s environment is incalculable.

The galamseyers use modern earth-moving equipment, such as excavators and bulldozers, which can churn up gold-bearing soil from farms and riverbeds, in enormous quantities. The soil is then “washed” inside the rivers, mercury and other harmful chemicals being used to pry out gold dust and nuggets. 

The process of washing” the gold is made easier with the use of a Chinese-made contraption called “changfan”.

The use of such harmful machinery on major rivers in Ghana, such as the Ankobrah, Pra, Tano, Offin, Birem, Oti and Densu, has polluted the rivers, changing d their colour to ugly mud-brown and yellow. Streams and tributaries that are fed with water from the big rivers with which they  supply water to the many towns that have flourished near the ancient  “settlements” created by earlier generations of Ghanaians. They always settled close to sources of constant water, for obvious reasons.  Now, the water meant for many of our villages and towns have water that poses a risk to those who drink or wash with it.

Many Ghanaians are therefore being forced to buy “sachet water”. The Government of Ghana has launched several “operations” in which military and police personnel arrest “galamseyers”. But the damage to our environment continues unabated.

 Those arrested during such “operations” often include Chinese nationals and their visibility as partners or employees of Ghanaians is creating resentment. The Chinese are in high demand because they are more adept in the use of machinery and modern techniques for galamsey purposes. .  

The situation has created a “diplomatic shadow boxing match” between Ghana and China. The Ghana Government complaint that the Chinese are breaking Ghanaian laws is met with the retort that the Chinese do not know where Ghana’s gold is and that it is Ghanaians who take them to the areas where gold exists. M

Meanwhile,   Ghana’s rivers and water-sources continue to be polluted. Some scientists calculate that if present trends are maintained, then, added to the effects of climate change, Ghana will have to import water in a decade or two. Where from, and with what money?

It is against this background that a sensational bit of news has been dominating the media space in Ghana.  The news relates to a Chinese woman, Aisha Huang, who was deported from Ghana in 2018 for engaging in galamsey activity. She had been charged to court for the alleged crime, but before the court could arrive at a verdict; the Ghana Government stopped the case. 

The Government made   an application to the court for a “nolle prosequi” (a Latin term which means that there would be no further prosecution.) With the cessation of the prosecution, Aisha Huang was deported from Ghana. 

Of course, the deportation created acute interest. Why had the Government stopped the prosecution? Was it because if Aisha Huang entered began to give evidence, she might mention some “big names” as her “sponsors” in Ghana? Or – would some of these “big names” be revealed as “paramours” or men with whom she had carried out romantic relations?

Other Ghanaians wondered whether she was deported because the Ghana Government did not wish to antagonise the Chinese Government, with whom it was negotiating for a project loan at the time in question. No plausible answers were forthcoming.

Speculation gave rise to other questions: why would the Chinese Government is concerned about the trial and potential punishment regarding a Chinese citizen in Ghana? If that person had committed her offence in China, would the Chinese Government have allowed her to go free?   

The questions died down, but then what should we hear but that that despite having been “deported” from Ghana in December  2018, Aisha Huang had been arrested again in Ghana! She’d been  taken to court in Accra!. 

This is the report that shook the nation: 

QUOTE: Graphic online Aisha Huang sneaks into Ghana, arrested again

“Date: Sep – 05 2022 – An Accra Circuit Court has remanded Chinese national, Huang Ruixia, alias Aisha Huang, and three others, for allegedly engaging in illegal mining in Ghana. The accused persons were charged for engaging in the  sale and purchase of minerals without a licence. 

“The other three are Jong Li Hua; Huang Jei and Huiad Hiahu, all Chinese nationals. Aisha Huang is facing an additional charge of engaging in mining without a licence.They were arraigned on September 2, 2022. Aisha’s plea to the charges is yet to be taken by the court (presided over by Mr Bright Acquah) since the court had no Chinese interpreter at the time. UNQUOTE 

According to the facts presented by the prosecutor, Detective Chief Inspector Frederick Sarpong, “Aisha Huang had previously escaped prosecution in Accra when she was arrested. She returned to her country [China] and changed her identity, only to come back to Ghana to commit the same crime for which she had  escaped prosecution earlier.” UNQUOTE 

It can be argued that both  Ghana and China are allowing Aisha Huang and her accomplices to poison relations between our two countries.

The two countries should take the participation of Chinese citizens in galamsey in Ghana seriously and work out an equitable solution to the problem. For water is the source of life, and ignoring what is being done to Ghana’s water sources by galamseyers can create the belief in the Ghanaian populace that their interests are being sacrificed for they know not what! 

Indeed, the goodwill between our two countries will only endure, if and when galamsey ceases to exist. 

BY CAMERON DUODU

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