Chinese Invasion

Some researchers and academics bemoan Chinese colonisation of Africa. However, Wole Soyinka has a different take; during his conversation at Cape Town’s Book Lounge in August 2010 (during Cape Town’s Book Fair), he said that China offers an alternative possibility that African nations can negotiate with, as long as we do not find ourselves in/position ourselves in the beggar’s pose:

“I know nothing about business, by the way. But as long as we are in a cut-throat, capitalistic nation,” the Chinese simply provide another opportunity and option – “as long as we are not substituting one form of indenture for another.”

Now comes a feature story by Xan Rice of The Guardian, on “the Chinese invasion”.

RIce asks some of the approximately one million Chinese, “from engineers to chefs,” who moved to work in Africa, to find out “why.” Presumably the same reason that so many immigrants move to places they regard as wild, furious, and sometimes barbaric. Here we go again.–Neelika Jayawardane.



Neelika Jayawardane

Sharp-tongued literature professor. Senior editor at Africa is a Country.

  1. I would think the fact that living standards in China have not improved for seven or eight years may have something to do with it. Even in Beijing, basic medical care can be difficult to get, and at least one person quoted in the Guardian article is from an area were malnutrition is widespread.

  2. The Chinese in Africa is the flavoursome topic of the moment. But there is little insight amidst the hypocritical carping about the absence of political standards in the Chinese economic engagement onslaught. I saw a documentary last night on one of the BBC channels which, for once it seemed to me, dained to ask Africans what they thought about the Chinese influx. This is progress; the actual voice and opinion of ordinary Africans usually scarely figure in what is, essentially, a geopolitical strategic debate.

    As you would expect there was much enthusiasm and some alarm amongst Africans about the Chinese. The documentary covered Angola, Zambia, Congo and a brief mention of Zimbabwe.

    I know the Guardian piece you have flagged is largely about Chinese experiences and motivations for being in Africa but last week another article in the same journal looked at the lopsideness and secrecy of legal contracts signed between the Chinese and Africans, especially in regards to land leasing and sale. That piece was, arguably, more interesting….

    1. Ooh, ebele, give us the link to the article – and we'll post a link to it. I missed that one.

  3. I know this is a large topic and very complex. But for me what a lot of African leaders have to do is to stop for a second and think about the bigger picture. EVERY right minded nation looks after it's own interests 1st. That's the job of the government etc. Foreign policy, economic policy, energy policy you name it. The U.S. U.K. France, Brazil, India and of course China.

    To be frank I don't blame them. Now my problem with many African leaders is that they seem to be looking out only for themselves, not their countries. The Chinese influx is just the same as when the previous colonial powers came both from outside and sometimes within Africa. We just have to play the same global game and realise that Africa has alot more bargaining power than it is currently exercising. We have the resources the world wants. We just sell ourselves short many times.

  4. For some reason, I strongly agree with you, BinoandFino. China is only interested in the resource and new places to increase their inaccurate number of population. The African nations may want to look at many journals of hidden aspects of both legal and illegal Chinese immigration to other continents, Canada and U.S, Europe, All area in Asia including Tibet, Japan and Australia. All Chinese new residents want to take over place from the original old residents to create new China-town. The Africans should be more skeptical to deal with everything of China because the Africans are definitely loyaler than the ultimate greedy nation.

  5. It’s of course not true the Chinese nation is helping the ex-colonies selflessly, they build dam for resources. Will your country help another without paying back? Surely you can, when you are talking about just millions, but how about billions?

    But for the Chinese people, they are really eager to make progress for this land, bring fortune for this continent, help and teach the people here, instead of talking and criticizing after endless enslaving.

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