Africans in Guangzhou
- This article is about the community in Guangzhou, China. For other uses, please see Africatown (disambiguation).
Africans in Guangzhou are a sizeable community of black Africans primarily concentrated in Yuexiu District and Baiyun District in Guangzhou, China. Since the country's late 1990s economic boom, thousands of African traders and businesspeople predominantly from West Africa migrated to the city of Guangzhou, creating an "Africatown" in the middle of the southern Chinese metropolis of approximately 10 km2. The primarily male population often set up local businesses and also engage in international trade. As a relatively new phenomenon in China, the influx of Africans to Guangzhou has been met with mixed reactions from the local population, and opened new discussions on racism, xenophobia, and immigration, previously unseen in modern China
According to official statistics of the PRC government, the number of Africans in Guangzhou has increased by 30-40% each year, and now form the largest black community in Asia. However, as many have overstayed their visas, official figures may be understated. Estimates vary on the number of Africans living in Guangzhou: from 20,000 to over 200,000. Huang Shiding of the Guangzhou Institute of Social Sciences (Chinese: 广州社科院) estimates the number of permanent residents of foreign nationality (six months and above) to be around 50,000, of which some 20,000 are of African origin.
Since China's economic boom in the 1990s, thousands of Africans arrived in China predominantly from Nigeria, Mali, Guinea, Cameroon, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Most have chosen to go to Guangzhou due to its close proximity to factories and other manufacturing facilities. Some have applied for permanent residency or work permits, but they are of the minority. A large number are in China on tourist visas. Many are traders who deal Chinese goods produced locally for resale both in China and back in Africa.
A large number of Africans living in the area have reportedly overstayed their visas, or use false passports, leading to increased suspicion from local police and higher frequency of arbitrary visa inspections on the streets. Some Africans say that staying in China illegally is inevitable because it is impossible to finish off the business they'd came for within a 30-day time frame and they cannot afford a plane ticket home. The Chinese government generally requires proof of onward travel to visitors from most countries. The perceived stringent regulations from the Chinese government has led to significant resentment in some segments of the African, particularly amongst the Nigerian community. In July 2009, an African man fell several floors from a building in an attempt to flee Chinese immigration authorities. On July 15, hundreds of African men demonstrated at the local Public Security Bureau station, and shut down eight lanes of traffic on a major thoroughfare for several hours.
The local Chinese population, the Africans themselves, local police, and the internet community are divided on views of the increased African presence in Guangzhou. Opinions of Africans vary widely amongst Chinese - from a sense of equality and camaraderie towards Africans due to their similar historical oppression by the West, to deep-seated racial resentment which briefly surfaced over the appearance of black TV talent-show contestant Lou Jing. In a survey conducted by Dr. Li Zhigang, results showed dramatic differences in the acceptance and antagonism of Africans in Guangzhou. Of those surveyed, 86% of white-collar workers reported antagonism towards black people, compared to 80% of freelancers and 65% of students. Yet the groups which came into daily contact with the black population reported more favourable results. Those who worked in the service industry, for example, reported a 65% acceptance rating, while businesspeople overwhelmingly accepted black people at 88%.
The growing size of the African community and its general seclusion from the wider Chinese community, in addition to negative portrayals on media, has given rise to xenophobia amongst locals. Some Nigerians who have become permanent residents of the area links the African presence to be akin to the Chinatowns in large African cities like Lagos. Many Africans claim racial discrimination from the Chinese population, saying that white people would not be treated the same way. A large number of Chinese businesspeople welcomed the presence of Africans, citing that Africans are more honest and are more trustworthy business partners compared to other groups.
An editorial by Nanfengchuang magazine notes: "To the Chinese, black people are just black people. They don't know the difference between a black person from Congo or from Nigeria. They can't tell apart a black Muslim from a black Christian. To them, they are all the same. Due to this ignorance and increasing segregation, problems involving individual black people becomes magnified into problems involving the entire black community." Professor Ma Qiang noted that black people congregated around one area of town not only out of a sense of community, but primarily because large number of Muslims, which are said to make up around half of Guangzhou's black population, settled around areas where halal food is served. Thus areas such as Xiaobei, which were originally inhabited by Chinese Muslims from places such as Ningxia and Xinjiang, became the natural setting for African Muslims to settle.
- Chinese South Africans
- Hao Ge
- Nanjing anti-African protests
- List of topics related to the African diaspora
- Racism in the People's Republic of China
- Europe Street
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