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  • Author: Karsten Giese, Erdem Dikici
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: When we talk about “China in Africa”, we should always remember to differentiate between the various actors and scales that are too often conflated and hidden behind such large and all-encompassing labels like “China” or “Africa”. Common containers and the homogenizing of diversity seldom help to broaden our knowledge or deepen our understanding of the various phenomena which can be observed at the various scales of the multiple relationships that have evolved between this East Asian country and the African continent. Moreover, it is necessary to specify the point in time or particular period we are covering in our scholarly work and that from which we draw our conclusions. Quite a few of the publications addressing China–Africa relations have succumbed to broad generalizations, neglected diversity and specificity and overlooked the temporal dimension. The last couple of years, however, have seen the emergence of a growing body of well-informed case studies on the Chinese presence across the African continent that stress the particularity and the situatedness of Chinese–African encounters and interactions in Africa. We now can rely on thick descriptions of various Chinese actors' realities on the ground in Africa that more often than not defy and counter longstanding and still very common stereotypes, such as that of China's grand strategy in the scramble for Africa or of the generally exploitative and belligerent character of Chinese economic endeavours across the African continent.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China
  • Author: Katy N. Lam
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese migrant entrepreneurs in Ghana perceive themselves as vulnerable, as regularly they encounter problems and their businesses fail. The adaption experiences of Chinese entrepreneurs in Africa, especially non-traders, remain largely unstudied. By looking at the interactions of newly arrived and established Chinese migrants with institutional actors, partners, local employees and other Chinese in Ghana, this paper shows the multiple dimensions of how Chinese entrepreneurs' migration adaptation evolves, and how they create social capital to develop their businesses in Ghana. From the Chinese perspective, established entrepreneurs condemn the recent numerous “new” Chinese in Ghana as part of the root cause of problems, on account of their “poor quality and bad behaviour”; by comparison, the newly arrived Chinese attribute their challenges to deficiencies in the local people and institutions of the host country. The negative experiences of Chinese entrepreneurs in Ghana provide further evidence for, not only African, but also local Chinese agency from below, and suggest that the rising Chinese presence does not necessarily improve the social status of Chinese entrepreneurs or create a stronger, more unified Chinese community on the continent.
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ghana
  • Author: Romain Dittgen
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Chinese economic activities in Africa have gained increased visibility in parallel to the recent acceleration of Sino-African relations. This paper, which is framed from a geographical perspective that is often absent or neglected in studies covering China–Africa, focuses on the spatial forms and dynamics. It depicts the way in which two contrasting Chinese economic entities – a state-owned company in Chad and privately owned commercial malls in Johannesburg, South Africa – engage with their respective host environments. While drawing on concepts of “liminality” as well as “heterotopias”, I argue that the modalities of the Chinese footprint are characterised both by closure and interaction, creating a dynamic tension that produces its own set of unique practices. This ambivalence between enclave and active linkages with host societies is not only perceivable from a spatial point of view, but also emerges with regard to economic strategies. In the midst of a transitional period, along with a launching and a consolidating phase, the Chinese economic entities in both case studies show signs of change in terms of behaviour and territorial foothold.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China
  • Author: Richard Aidoo, Steve Hess
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China's non-interference policy has come under scrutiny in regards to its growing and deepening relations in Africa. The policy has come to represent an about-face from conditional assistance and investment associated with the Washington Consensus. Although often well received in much of the global South, this policy has drawn a lot of criticism from the West and others. These commentators have perceived non-interference as an opportunistic and often inconsistent instrument for enabling China's increasing access to African resources and markets. This article suggests that despite some consistent support for the rhetoric of non-interference, China's implementation of the policy has become increasingly varied and contextualized in reaction to Africa's ever-more diversified political and economic landscape since the early 2000s.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Washington
  • Author: Timothy Steven Rich, Vasabjit Banerjee
  • Publication Date: 05-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article highlights the precarious nature of Taiwan's diplomatic relations in Africa. Whereas Cold War rationales initially benefitted Taiwan, economic interests now appear to incentivize African countries to establish relations with China. Through qualitative and quantitative data covering much of the post-World War II era, this analysis argues that economic factors have trumped political rationales for Taiwanese–African relations. In addition, this article problematizes both conceptions of diplomatic recognition and Taiwan's enduring relations with Africa.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Taiwan
  • Author: Karsten Giese
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Over the last few years, Sino-African relations have become a hot topic both in the general media and for scholars worldwide. Large parts of the global mass media are still engaged in painting the big picture of the relationship between China and Africa by conflating the multiple stakeholders and actors on both sides and generalizing about China's "neocolonialist" strategies vis-à-vis weak African states: its exploitation of African raw materials and populations, its support for non-democratic regimes and its undermining of all Western efforts for reforms across the continent. Where media reports transcend this stereotyping and homogenizing on the macro-level and portray Chinese–African encounters on the ground, it is power differentials, competition, tension and conflict between disempowered African locals and (at least economically) powerful Chinese – the latter as exoticized as alien "others" – that are often the focus of attention.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China
  • Author: Ben Lampert, Giles Mohan
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: China's renewed engagement with Africa is often framed as a form of imperialism, with the growing number of Chinese migrants on the continent seen as an exploitative presence. Such claims have generally been based on little evidence, and where more detailed empirical studies have emerged, they tend to emphasise the tensions and conflicts that have arisen. Our research on Chinese migrants in Ghana and Nigeria suggests that while there are concerns about Chinese competition in the informal retail sector and the treatment of local labour in Chinese enterprises, narratives of apparent tension and conflict are often much more nuanced than is generally recognised. Furthermore, more convivial and cooperative relations have also emerged and these have facilitated important opportunities for Africans to benefit from the Chinese presence. However, while the presence of Chinese migrants in African socio-economic life can be more integrated and mutually beneficial than is often assumed, the ability of African actors to benefit from this presence is highly uneven, placing the politics of class at the centre of any understanding of Sino-African encounters.
  • Topic: Development, Migration
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Nigeria
  • Author: Guive Khan Mohammad
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: Burkina Faso currently has no diplomatic relationship whatsoever with the People's Republic of China. Engaged in cooperation with Taiwan since 1994, it is one of only three African countries not a part of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation. This unusual situation has produced a unique manifestation of the Chinese presence in Burkina Faso, where the estimated 600 Chinese migrants are primarily private entrepreneurs. This phenomenon of "globalization from below" – or, this migration of entrepreneurs that transcends the absence of diplomatic relations – creates new intimate social relations between the Burkinabe and Chinese people who come into contact with each other. Far from simply turning Chinese and Burkinabe into economic competitors, these relations have also led to the emergence of many forms of interpersonal and business cooperation. In this paper, I therefore demonstrate how Sino-African cooperation from below has developed in Burkina Faso, which stands in radical contrast to the latter's cooperation with Taiwan, which takes place almost exclusively on a broader state-to-state level. The empirical evidence of this study is drawn from field survey interviews and observations of both Chinese and Burkinabe entrepreneurs in Burkina Faso between 2010 and 2011.
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Tanzania
  • Author: Codrin Arsene
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This paper analyses the context in which a group of African workers interact with their Chinese employers within a specific ethno- graphic space: Chinese-owned shops in Kampala, Uganda. By exploring enjawulo, the locally embedded cultural, social and economic notion of work and labour, I reveal how relations between Chinese employers and Ugandan employees are shaped by the former's knowledge and acceptance of this practice. This analytical lens contextualises the two groups' divergent goals, opinions and aspirations, examines the interpersonal dimensions of their social relations, and also analyses employers' and employees' opinions on labour conflicts, cooperation and understanding. The goal of the paper is to explore and deconstruct the context in which Chinese store owners and their local employees interact, cohabit, and sometimes even find common ground, despite markedly different economic, social, cultural, racial and linguistic backgrounds.
  • Topic: Migration
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, China, Kampala
  • Author: Gordon Mathews, Yang Yang
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Journal of Current Chinese Affairs
  • Institution: German Institute of Global and Area Studies
  • Abstract: This article looks at the livelihoods and lives of African traders coming to Hong Kong and Guangzhou. These traders are practising “low-end globalization”, involving small amounts of capital, and semi-legal or illegal transactions under the radar of the law. The article first considers who these traders are, portraying them as, typically, members of the upper crust of their home societies. It then considers these traders in Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong, a building that is an entrepôt between China and the developing world. Finally, it looks at traders' livelihoods and lives in Guangzhou, South China, and traders' efforts to succeed in mainland China. The article argues that one essential economic role China plays today is in manufacturing the cheap, sometimes counterfeit goods that enable Africa and other developing-world regions to experience globalization; the African traders who come to China help make this possible.
  • Topic: Globalization
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Hong Kong, South China, Guangzhou