Chinese businessmen in Kyrgyzstan suffer heavy losses

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Although there have been no reports of any casualties among Chinese nationals living in Kyrgyzstan, some Chinese businessman suffered severe property damage during the recent rioting.

Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces throughout Kyrgyzstan in the past two days.
Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces throughout Kyrgyzstan in the past two days.

Thousands of protesters clashed with security forces throughout the country in the past two days, driving out local governments and seizing government headquarters in Bishkek. Most government buildings in the capital, as well as Bakiyev's houses, were looted or set on fire and two major markets were burned down.

On Friday morning, Xinhua reporters came to one of the most damaged Chinese Guoying commercial center, a four-story building with a total operation area for 4,800 square meters that was almost completely burned.

Zheng Jianguo, a Chinese business who lived in Kyrgyzstan for 16 years, said that Wednesday night "many people, about a thousand of them, rushed to the place and broke into the backyard."

"They alleged that at another Chinese market, some local residents were killed," he said, referring to incidents at the Dangtang Chinese market when Kyrgyz security workers killed one and injured another six locals.

"They said they had come here for revenge, demanding a robbery of the commercial center," Zheng said.

Zheng said the people came from the downtown city square at around 11 p.m. and refused to leave even after taking all of the money from the workers at the commercial center.

The standoff lasted into 01:00 a.m. (1800 GMT), with the number of rioters increasing to more than 3,000. Then they started to loot and set the whole building ablaze at around 02:00 a.m. (1900 GMT).

He Chengyu, the Chinese manager of the commercial center, told Xinhua reporters it was tragic to watch the building being burned down. The Chinese-funded Guoying commercial center was set up based on a local wood plant in 1998, He said.

The riots were premeditated, He said, "otherwise we would have been able to stop them."

"We have offered money, some of us even turned four of their pockets inside-out to show they had no money left," he said.

Even before the riots, the commercial center had been attacked twice since 2000. The last time was in 2005 during the Tulip Revolution, which yielded an overall loss exceeding five million U.S. dollars, he said.

This time, the losses have been estimated at around one million dollars for a total overhaul of the building, he said.

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