More than 40 armed robbery cases against Chinese citizens or overseas Chinese occurred in South Africa last year, leading to eight fatalities.
Three Chinese business people were killed by armed robbers in South Africa within 36 hours since last weekend, while another one was murdered earlier this year.
The surge of crimes and murders against Chinese citizens or overseas Chinese living in South Africa has aroused public concerns across China, and the Chinese business people with business activities in Africa are calling on both governments to take more effective measures to guarantee their personal and property safety.
"If our personal safety cannot be guaranteed, how can we continue to carry out business there?" the general manager of a Chinese import and export company with business interests in South Africa told Xinhua on Thursday on condition of anonymity.
According to Ren Haijin, general manager of Zhejiang Metals & Minerals Import-Export Corp. based in east China's coastal province of Zhejiang, his company has been conducting business activities in South Africa for many years, with an annual trade volume of more than 10 million U.S. dollars.
"We are very concerned about the recent attacks, and we fear that the poor security situation in South Africa will have a negative impact on our business there," Ren said.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan on Tuesday asked South Africa to "take substantial measures" to protect life and property safety of Chinese citizens living there.
He also urged South African police to strengthen investigation on those cases and punish the criminals.
Huang Ping, deputy director of the consulate department of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, summoned on Thursday Vusi. B. Koloane, South Africa's minister plenipotentiary to China, to make representations on behalf of the Chinese government.
"These positive steps taken by the government gave us much encouragement and would hopefully guarantee our normal business operation in South Africa," Ren said.
"We are still willing to expand our scope of business in South Africa, and I hope the South African government will also take effective measures to ensure that the life and property security of the Chinese business people is guaranteed," Ren said.
He also suggested all Chinese companies investing or doing business in South Africa "develop closer contacts with the Chinese embassy and consulates there" and "unite together for better self-protection."
The recent violent crimes also cast shadow on Chinese students who wished to study in South Africa.
According to a Ms. Zhang with an overseas education service company based in Beijing, the company is handling very few applications for study in South Africa these days, as "most students and their parents are worried about the security problem in that country."
However, she added that "if the security situation there can improve substantially, South Africa will sure become a more attractive destination for the Chinese students."
The only optimistic comment came from some Chinese travel agencies. Yu Lei, a marketing manager with Beijing-based Harmony Tours International Co. Ltd., claimed that the recent incidents didn't exert "noticeable impact" on the group trips to South Africa arranged by the agency.
"Our next travel group to South Africa will set off on Feb. 20. The group has been fully booked up, and so far no one is quitting it," Yu told Xinhua in a telephone interview.
The reason might be that the agency has carefully arranged the itinerary of the travel group, avoiding any "insecure districts" in accommodation and sightseeing, said Yu.