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Chinese overseas

Chinese man hopes his family in Burkina Faso can live in China after diplomatic ties restored

The small West African state is the latest country to ditch Taiwan and re-establish relations with mainland China

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 11:56am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 4:14pm

A Chinese man who moved to Burkina Faso six years ago and married a local woman said he hopes the two countries’ re-establishment of diplomatic ties will help him bring his family back to China, according to a media report.

Ming Lei, 31, from Wuhan in Hubei province, moved to the West African state in 2012 after he was invited to join a former high school classmate who had started his own business in the capital Ouagadougou, a social media platform run by Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday.

Ming knew little about the country at the time and due to the lack of diplomatic ties even mainland Chinese custom officials were largely in the dark about the nation and questioned him at length before he left.

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Ming met his future wife Christine at a train station in 2013.

“I thought at the time, ‘this girl is so pretty’”, Ming was quoted as saying. “I went on a few blind dates back in China, but never found a girl I liked. I feel lucky [meeting Christine].”

Ming planned to bring his wife to meet his parents in China in 2015, but he was told they first had to get married so Christine could enter the country on a family visit visa.

Due to the lack of diplomatic ties between China and Burkina Faso, the couple had to travel to the Chinese embassy in neighbouring Ivory Coast to register the marriage with the Chinese authorities.

Ming also encountered difficulties when he wanted to apply for his daughter, who was born in Burkina Faso three years ago, to get a Chinese passport as there is no Chinese embassy in the country.

He finally applied for a Burkina Faso passport for her.

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Ming was quoted as saying the re-establishment of ties between the two countries would bring both opportunities and challenges for the people of both nations, but his most urgent need was to apply for Chinese citizenship for his daughter.

Burkina Faso and China formally established diplomatic ties on Saturday, days after the West African nation broke off relations with Taiwan, a self-ruled island which Beijing sees as a breakaway Chinese province.

There are about 300 mainland Chinese living and working in Burkina Faso. Most operate small businesses in the capital.