Chinese business owners in Jamaica warned over robberies and police extortion

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 5:19pm

An “unoptimistic security situation” in Jamaica has prompted China’s Ministry of Commerce to warn Chinese business owners and visitors there to stay alert, to travel in groups and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.

The “Jamaica safety reminder”, published on the ministry’s website last month, follows media reports and first person accounts of robberies and attacks against Chinese nationals in the country.

“In recent weeks, a dozen robberies were committed in a Chinese neighborhood in Kingston,” reads an online post by a Chinese resident “Gordonjamaica”.  “Some were robbed of thousands of US dollars, others of tens of thousands. They [criminals] ate food in our fridges, and I heard that they raped some Chinese women.”

The rape allegations have yet to be confirmed.

When the Chinese sought help from their embassy after these attacks, "Gordonjamaica" said the embassy treated them insensitively - like they were “bad guys".

“Only after we begged them for a long time, did they invite a police officer to meet with us, ” he said.  But this didn't help. “The police officer at the meeting told us the case was not his responsibility.” Another Chinese family were also robbed the same night, he revealed.

“Now we are too scared to open shops during the day, or to try to sleep at night,” wrote "Gordonjamaica". He added: “We can’t just leave our inventory behind to go back to China.”

As well as being attacked by criminals, many businessmen in Jamaica have been frequent victims of police extortion, reported the Jamaica Observer on Sunday

Chinese businessmen - who speak poor English and travel with large amounts of cash - often have a hard time explaining to police why they are carrying so much money. They usually end up bribing the police, the report said.

The Chinese embassy in Jamaica couldn’t be reached for a comment on Tuesday due to time differences.