Tag Archives: Chinese in Africa

[Film] ‘Rase’s choice’, a rare #SinoAfrica documentary


The documentary is about an exceptional Chinese woman’s journey to Nigeria. Born and raised up in the Chinese city, Guangzhou, where the presence of African traders numbers some 200,000, the woman named Rase falls in love with a Nigerian trader, Kevin. Facing a wide range of racial discrimination and strict immigration control in China, Rase decides to go to live and work in Nigeria, after Kevin is forced to leave China because of an expired visa. On her arrival, tensions build up. Rase finds work at a Chinese factory where she witnesses tremendous discrimination while Kevin hesitates to continue the relationship.


[Reporting Grants] Women and Africa-China Relations: Themed Reporting Grants 2016

The existing discourse on Africa-China relations lacks substantial coverage of the role of women both as the subjects and actors/decision-makers/agents. So the China-Africa Reporting Project (the Project) and From Africa to China are jointly commissioning a series of Themed Grants aimed at reviewing how women are effecting and affected by China-Africa relations. The grants are open to female journalists from Africa and China. 

The Project will publish the resulting articles in a series of briefings and may also invite contributors to participate in discussion activities. From Africa to China will publish each article and document the process of producing the articles in collaboration with the journalists. All selected journalists will be free to submit their work for publishing independently.

To apply see the section below “How to apply”.

Reporting themes

The Action Plan for 2016-2018 released after the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit in Johannesburg in 2015 highlights three commitments directly related to women and women & children: Gender equality; employment and self-development; and poverty reduction.

For each of these commitments outlined in the Action Plan, China has committed to work together with African states for the empowerment of women. Yet there is insignificant reporting on Africa-China relations in the context of women, and a lack of female voices telling stories about Africa-China relations.

Via these Themed Grants, the Project and From Africa to China seeks to commission female journalists to produce investigative features and articles exploring one of the following themes:

  • Employment and self-development for women:
    • Vocational and technical training facilities
    • Training of 200,000 local African vocational and technical personnel and providing Africa with 40,000 training opportunities in China
  • Resource mobilisation and poverty reduction:
    • To what extent have African states and China mobilized resources (including non-governmental organizations) to implement 200 “Happy Life” projects in Africa?
    • How successfully have poverty reduction programmes focusing on women and children been implemented by African states and China?
  • Exchanges on gender equality and practical cooperation on women and gender affairs:
    • Dialogues between female leaders, seminars, skills training, human capacity development and cultural exchanges
  • Other broader thematic areas:
    • The role of women as actors who are influencing Africa-China relations at both state/leadership and grassroots levels
    • The effects of Africa-China relations on women at both state/leadership and grassroots levels
    • The roles of female practitioners (academics, scholars, politicians, business leaders, journalists) in reporting Africa-China relations

How to apply

Female Chinese and African journalists interested in applying for this Themed Grants series should send a proposal containing all the items listed below to fromafricatochina@gmail.com by no later than September 25.

Applications must contain:

  • Draft title of the feature to be produced, including clear indication of which theme listed above to be pursued and relevance to the role of women in Africa-China relations
  • Brief proposal of the topic and methodology and further supporting information
  • Budget in US dollars (or rands if in South Africa) with clear itemized expenditure, within the total falling within the range US$350 to US$1,500
  • Indication of where applicant intends to publish the article
  • Applicant CV and list of previous China-Africa publications (if any)

Applicants are also encouraged to review the Project’s reporting grant guidelines and adhere to them as much as possible. 

About From Africa to China

Screen Shot 2016-09-23 at 2.18.53 pm.pngFrom Africa to China is an online platform run by four women from Africa who experienced Beijing while pursuing MA degrees in China studies at Peking University. The purpose of the platform is to unpack Africa-China relations through a mixture of research-based content and reflections on daily life in China from the perspective of a young African woman. Beyond advancing storytelling on Africa-China relations from the perspective of young Africans, From Africa to China specifically aims to contribute a considerably lacking female voice to the discourse on Africa-China relations.


[Research] China Africa Millennials Project – CAMP

A fascinating new project about Afro-Chinese youth engagements has recently been launched. Worth following!


Africa’s population is young, and getting younger: 70% of the continent’s population is under the age of 30. In the next 35 years, an estimated 1.8 billion babies will be born, making Africa home to more young people than anywhere else in the world. In China, the post90s generation (90后), born after the political and economic tumult of previous decades, are coming of age. As they do, they adopt world views that differ radically—even unrecognizably—from those of their parents’ generation.

One of the major international sagas defining the world these young people grow up is, undoubtedly, China-Africa relations. We have heard a lot about the evolving relationship between country and continent in recent years. About stadium diplomacy and ‘win-win cooperation’, resource extraction and racial discrimination, transnational flows of money and people. Yet much of the knowledge about Chinese-African relations is produced by, well, older people—commentary articulated by political, economic and academic veterans. And, to be honest, some of the frames and narratives are getting a bit…old.

Which is not to shun the careful and hard-won wisdom of previous generations. Other spaces and sites are already doing a great job sharing their voices and highlighting their experience and insight (see here or here or here or here).

But we want a space for us. With the China-Africa Millennials Project (CAMP), we want to give voice to the currently voiceless millions of young people from China, Africa and around the world. We want to insert youth into the emerging kaleidoscope of voices telling and retelling China-Africa stories.

As such, the essays, reflections and reports collected here are authored by “millennials,” all of whom have had some unique involvement in intersections of China and Africa. The pieces range in nature, quality and content. Some are rough, unpolished—a few authors are publishing thoughts in English for the first time, based on micro-research projects conducted over just a few weeks. Others are written by emerging scholars, based on years of careful consideration. Taken together, however, we hope the disparate body of works here will add a sunburst of new and lively voices to existing conversations, chip away at the dominance of stale and aging narratives, and ultimately create new discursive frontiers.

We humbly hope that this space will serve as one in which a new generation of authors, artists, scholars, business people, and wanderers can test out their voices. Can question and explore, share and exchange.

There is a lot to learn from these young people—even our most venerable elders admit it. And who knows? Maybe, not so long from now, some of those posting here will be the ones shaping the narratives of China and Africa.

Read more about CAMP here

[Migration] The ‘One million Chinese in Africa’ / ‘300k Africans in China’ narratives

More often than not, African presence in China is seen/understood through a ‘Western’ lens. This lens tends to reflect EuroAmerican anxieties/perspectives around migration upon diasporic Africans in Asia. It sometimes feels as if there was only one (Eurocentric!) way of making sense of people on the move (migrants!). To problematise these Eurocentric narratives of migration has been a major task/target of my research and one of the main aims of this blog. Simplistic/reductionist narratives about Africans in China have their flipside story in how Chinese migrants in Africa are represented by media and some scholars. Below, you’ll find an important critical reflection of how ‘Western’ media/scholars often misrepresent Chinese presence in the continent by elaborating simplistic arguments about ‘neo-colonialism’, and by conflating individual Chinese entrepreneurialism with the ‘Chinese government’ attempt to build an Empire in Africa. In fact, much of what is out there (in media) about Chinese in Africa rearticulates (often regurgitates) the old ‘China threat’ and ‘Yellow peril’ tropes.

‘One Million Chinese in Africa’, by Yoon Jung Park

In fact, much of the literature on China in Africa, including work on Chinese migrants, invokes the specter of colonialism or imperialism in some “neo” form. One of the recent and highly publicized books on Chinese in Africa goes as far as to call Africa “China’s Second Continent”, the subtitle making reference to a million migrants building a new empire in Africa (French 2015). These arguments reflect a mostly Western tendency to both target (and often demonize) China and to evaluate China’s activities on the continent as a reflection of the West’s own not-so-distant histories of colonialism in Africa. The current crisis with the Islamic State and other militant Islamic groups aside, China seems to have become the primary worry of the West in large part because of perceptions that China threatens to disrupt the global power balance and the reality that China has already unseated Western states as Africa’s most valuable international partner in trade and investment. Examining the thousands of Chinese people in Africa with this sort of colonial lens is misleading and obfuscates the facts surrounding these phenomena.

It is important to place the million in context. The population of Africa is around 1.1 billion. The number of internally displaced Africans within Africa was approximately 12.5 million at the end of 2013, while the number of internal migrants in China is around 260 million, and the number of Chinese living overseas globally is likely over 35 million. There are much higher numbers of Chinese in other countries, including the US. An interactive map created by the Migration Policy Institute shows that both the raw and relative numbers of Chinese to other countries are much higher than those to Africa. So why all the fuss?

While few would see the vast numbers of Chinese migrants to the US as agents of the Chinese state, this is exactly how Chinese migrants to Africa are often framed. Concerns about China’s growing global economic influence and their increased engagement in Africa and elsewhere in the Global South no doubt plays a role in the perception of Chinese migrants on the African continent. However, research on Chinese migrants reveals that relations between these migrants and the official representatives of the Chinese state – the Chinese consulates and embassies – in Africa are strained at best. The author’s interviews with Chinese ambassadors and other Chinese diplomatic staff over the past decade or so indicate that they are, for the most part, embarrassed by the many Chinese migrants in Africa whom they see as low class and uneducated. The myriad problems they must deal with, from crime and corruption (where Chinese migrants are often both victims and perpetrators) including issues related to irregular migration status, trafficking, labor, trade and tariffs, and the environment are viewed with frustration and shame. In a 2008 interview conducted by the author, one Chinese ambassador to a southern African country confided: “They are my biggest headache”. In short, there is no love lost between Chinese migrants and their official counterparts in Africa, and Chinese migrants in Africa can hardly be seen as state agents… [KEEP READING HERE]


Yoon Jung Park is a freelance researcher, convener of the Chinese in Africa/Africans in China Research Network, and adjunct professor of African Studies at Georgetown University. She has also held positions at Howard University, University of Johannesburg, Rhodes University, and the University of the Witwatersrand. Her research interests include Chinese migration/migrants in Africa; migration, race/ethnicity, and identity; and racism and xenophobia. She is author of “A Matter of Honour. Being Chinese in South Africa” and dozens of articles and reports on Chinese people – both migrants and citizens – in Africa. She is currently working on a book on Chinese migrants in Africa.

[Film] #SinoAfrica film-making cooperation

For further contextualisation around SinoAfrican film opportunities and potential you MUST read this: Nollywood: an untapped opportunity for deepening Africa-China relations? [PDF] – and this diplomatic perspective

[Documentary] Empire of Dust (2011)

Bram Van Paesschen, a Belgian director, sets out to (re)present the encounter between two men (a Mandarin-speaking Congolese and a Chinese) in the former Belgian colony, the Democratic Republic of Congo. An interesting #SinoAfrica encounter, albeit through European eyes.


Lao Yang and Eddy both work for a company called CREC (Chinese Railway Engineering Company). They have just set up camp near the remote mining town of Kolwezi in the Katanga province of the RDC. The goal of the company is to redo the road – covering 300km – that connects Kolwezi with the capital of the province Lubumbashi. Lao Yang is head of logistics of the group. He is responsible for the equipment, building materials and food (mainly chickens) to arrive in the isolated Chinese prefab camp. The Congolese government was supposed to deliver these things but so far the team hasn’t received anything. With Eddy (a Congolese man who speaks Mandarin fluently) as an intermediate, Lao Yang is forced to leave the camp and deal with local Congolese entrepreneurs, because without the construction materials the road works will cease. What follows is an endless, harsh, but absurdly funny roller coaster of negotiations and misunderstandings, as Lao Yan learns about the Congolese way of making deals.

Written by Empire of Dust


Interview with the director (in French)

[DIY course] Free online Africa – China Relations course #SinoAfrica

Africa – China Relations


Welcome to the free, online version of ‘Africa – China Relations’, an undergrad, introductory & interdisciplinary course taught at the University of Hong Kong.

At this stage, below you’ll find the course contents as they stand as of early 2016. In the future, the presentations (prezis) will be replaced by video lectures (narrated prezis), but I’m still in the process of finding both time and funding to do so.

Finally, I believe that the best way to improve/expand my knowledge about any subject is by sharing it as it is – this has always been the leading idea behind this blog & and behind my scholarly work. There is a lot to improve (of course!) but as an introductory, free, online course, the assemblage of ideas, readings, videos, discussions & arguments in this collection are on the cutting edge of #SinoAfrica debates. In the future, I plan to add more advanced (and specific) courses but, first, let me take a selfie; and second, 摸着石头过河



Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 7.58.51 pm

Course Description

In recent years, China and Africa have renewed their relations at many different levels. From political engagement to increased trade and economic relations, and perhaps more importantly, to increased contact between ordinary Africans and Chinese. The figures of Chinese living in Africa, and Africans living in China, have increased to a point that has no parallel in the history between these two regions. What are the implications of contemporary Sino-African engagements? What does this mean for the future of these regions and the world? In order to provide answers to these questions, this course introduces the main debates around Sino-African engagements and analyses some of the associated sociocultural, political and economic processes. Instead of simply reviewing the main literature on Africa-China relations, this course takes you into a critical and interdisciplinary journey in which crucial aspects of these relations are analysed through various texts and documentaries. Through discussion and analysis, this course will challenge extant narratives about Africa-China relations and delve into the possibilities (i.e. opportunities and challenges) that this ‘renewed’ engagement entails.

Course Objectives

  • Consider the ways in which Sino-African relations have evolved throughout history and to explore the possibilities for the future.
  • Explain the complex and contested dynamics of Africa-China relations.
  • Critically analyse and challenge extant representations about Chinese presence in Africa and African presence in China.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • an understanding of historical encounters, contemporary exchanges, and issues of representation around Africa-China relations;
  • general knowledge around the major debates, themes and concepts in Africa-China relations;
  • an ability to critically engage in discussions about the topic, and reflexively apply the knowledge generated in the course to future research.


Week 2: A new scramble for Africa?

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Large, D. ‘Beyond the Dragon in the Bush’.

Screening: The Battle for Africa


Week 3: Early encounters and pre-modern imaginations: did the Chinese discover Africa?

(If you are unable to navigate the Prezi through this screen you can also view this Prezi on the website)

Primary reading

Snow, P. ‘Chinese Columbus’

Wyatt, D. ‘Blacks of premodern China’ Chapter 1

Other sources

Smidt, W. ‘A Chinese in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms (8th Century)’

Wilensky. ‘The Magical Kunlun and ‘Devil Slaves’: Chinese perceptions of dark skinned people and Africa before 1500’

Keywords: #Kunlun #ZhengHe #ChengHo #Trade #DuHuan #Malindi #IbnBattuta #MingDinasty #VascoDaGama #NewSilkRoad #Coolies