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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday the government had complained to Ghana's president after 124 Chinese citizens were detained in a crackdown on illegal gold mining.
Ghana is Africa's second biggest gold producer after South Africa. As gold prices have hit record levels in recent years, the sector has been increasingly plagued by illegal diggers, including a rising number of undocumented Chinese immigrants.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it wanted the people detained in Ghana to be treated properly.
"A responsible official from China's embassy in Ghana has already made representations with high-level officials at the presidential office," ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.
China has asked Ghana to ensure its citizens are not robbed by other people during the crackdown, Hong said.
"Law enforcement agencies should enforce the law in a civilized manner and avoid injuring or damaging the interests of Chinese citizens," he said.
Diplomats had carried out consular visits with the detained Chinese and had been sent to mining areas to investigate the situation, Hong added.
"I must remind Chinese citizens in Ghana to respect local laws and not do anything illegal," Hong said.
Last year, a 16-year-old Chinese boy was killed during a similar sweep against illegal gold mining in the west African nation.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Robert Birsel)