NAIROBI (Reuters) – Kenya said on Friday it had arrested five Chinese nationals with security equipment who claimed to be setting up a security company but lacked the proper visas.
The arrest was given an unusually high-profile announcement for an apparent immigration violation, in a country where there has been some public tension over the arrival of a large number of Chinese labourers as China increases its investment.
The government said police and immigration officers had arrested four Chinese men and one woman, and recovered military and security gear including uniforms, walkie-talkies and tear gas canisters in Nairobi’s upscale Lavington area before dawn.
The suspects “claimed they were planning to open a security firm but preliminary investigations show that they have no work permits; all of them are in the country on tourist visas,” a government statement said.
Chinese contractors are implementing infrastructure projects in Kenya mainly in transportation. Some Kenyans complain on social media that the authorities do not do enough to enforce immigration laws and ensure firms hire Kenyan workers.
Kenyan employees of the $3 billion, Chinese-funded Mombasa-Nairobi railway which opened last year have complained of mistreatment from Chinese staff, which the railway denies.
A Chinese national was deported from Kenya in early September after he was captured on video insulting Kenyans, including the president, illustrating the tension.