NAIROBI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Kenyan police apologized on Thursday for briefly arresting journalists from Chinese state television’s international English channel China Global Television Network (CGTN).
The incident happened just days after Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta attended a summit in China, which is a crucial partner for the East African nation. President Xi Jinping offered another $60 billion in financing for Africa.
Officers on Wednesday raided the CGTN’s offices in Nairobi and detained some staff for what they alleged were immigration offences.
“The raid on the Chinese state-owned broadcaster was based on false information,” Charles Owino, Kenya’s national police spokesman told Reuters. “We sincerely apologize for the mishap... Those detained were released later.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying confirmed the raid, telling a daily news briefing in Beijing that Kenyan police, during a sweep of illegal workers, had taken away several Chinese reporters and other staff members.
The Chinese embassy immediately complained to the Kenyan government and all the personnel were released on the same day, Hua added.
“The Kenyan side has already apologized to the Chinese side about the improper law enforcement, and promised they will constrain the actions of police at the grassroots … and prevent such incidents from happening again,” Hua said.
“According to what we understand, this action by the Kenyan policy is part of a move to crack down on illegal immigration, and is neither aimed at nor limited to Chinese citizens.”
The propaganda department at China’s main state television station CCTV, which is the parent of CGTN, declined to comment on the incident.
China has helped to finance key infrastructure projects in Kenya, including a $3-billion railway that links the capital Nairobi to the port of Mombasa.
A growing number of Chinese citizens have moved to Kenya as economic links have expanded and some local media have reported occasional incidents between Kenyans and the newcomers.
In an unusual move, Kenya’s Immigration Department on Wednesday posted a picture of a Chinese national who was captured in a video that circulated widely on social media uttering racist slurs against Kenyans, including against President Kenyatta. It said he had been arrested.
“His work permit has been canceled and he will be deported on racism grounds,” the department said in a tweet.
Reporting by Humphrey Malalo in Nairobi and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Writing by Omar Mohammed; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Gareth Jones