East African migrants going to China


Chinese market. The stories are familiar: in Sierra Leone, African labourers complain that their eastern foremen overwork them; Ghana has deported hundreds of Chinese for illegally mining gold; in Zambia, a series of worker controversies in a Chinese-owned coal mine culminated in the killing of a manager and the seizure of the operations by the government; and across African markets, eastern traders are regarded with suspicion for undercutting locals.

As economic and diplomatic ties between China and Africa go from strength to strength, cultural differences have been thrown into sharp relief. And it’s not just on the African side that tensions are emerging. A similar phenomenon is visible back in China as more Africans head east in search of their fortune.

Up to 1 million Chinese are estimated to currently call Africa home, but data on the number of Africans in China are scarce. Local media estimate that anything from 20,000 to 200,000 Africans traders are now living in Guangzhou alone – a town in the south of the country which is so popular with migrants from countries such as Nigeria, Congo and Tanzania that it has been controversially dubbed the ‘Chocolate City’.

Most come to buy wholesale goods ranging from stock […]

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