Week 7 The Africa China Connection

The readings this week discuss the trends and dynamics of investment, trade and immigration between China and African states. The Africa China connection documentary show cases the personal experiences of several migrants from Africa that have come to work and live in China. They discuss opportunity and over-all positive experiences and it is interesting to see the contrast with attempts to migrate to Europe or other places that were rather negative and difficult. The process to apply for and obtain visas to migrate to China is surprisingly simple and accessible. I was particularly surprised as China has a quickly developing economy and has a large labour force upon which to fuel growth and it is interesting to see the number of migrants still entering China. It is especially interesting as is discussed in the documentary states such as in Europe face declining or stagnating populations which demand more migrants as a source of labour and makes for an odd contrast. The documentary would have done well, however, to explore if Chinese policy encourages or attracts migrants as well as determining how this policy has changed over time. The process maybe streamlined and open now but it may not have always been the case nor is it guaranteed to be always the case. There are many large economies is the region that have rather restricted visa and immigration processes and there is no reason to suggest China will not follow suit in the future.
The article by Bodomo and Ma on the other hand paint a different and more nuanced account of African Migration. The cities of Yiwu and Guangzhou are studied based on the reception by Chinese officials and citizens in both cities. The authors discover that Guangzhou the city with a larger number of Africans are able to participate fully in the economy but face more frequent harassment and discrimination based on race. Yiwu is the more welcoming city and even markets itself as a destination for Africans looking to do business in the country. The trend is interesting to see as despite the large amount of trade and contacts between China and African states the discrimination is reminiscent of racial profiling by European states of Arab migrants and US profiling of Hispanic migrants.
Apart from personal experiences the readings this week discuss the political and economic designs of Chinese policy in Africa. Western objections to Chinese influence in the region as imperialistic and challenging is in accurate but does ear some partial truth. China is documented to be on a charm offensive as it has opened several cultural schools of Africa as well as investing billions into infrastructure projects. Though claims to imperialism on China’s part appear to be a stretch there are perhaps legitimate concerns as to the result of China influence. For example China offers loans to states that are usually free of the conditions attached the likes of which are attached to loans from the WTO and other Western donors demanding reforms and change on the part of African governments. Though the immediate effects are beneficial, concerns over labour rights, rule of law and corruption are definite concerns as autocratic rules are able to maintain powers. That is not to say the conditions based approach to loans have been entirely successful in influencing African governments but the Chinese approach does appear to legitimise despotic rulers and does not bode well for human rights.
Discussion Questions:
As the readings discuss the ease of travel and business between Africa and China migration is also important. Though it appears the Chinese reception of African s is easier and more welcoming are the rights of migrants at more risk than say traveling to Europe or North America? China is an authoritarian state and not bound to respect human rights and rule of law as Western states.


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