Little Africa: The Elusive Chinese Dream For Migrants In Guangzhou

Little Africa: The Elusive Chinese Dream For Migrants In Guangzhou

In 2012, there were about 100,000 African migrants living in a tiny neighborhood of Guangzhou, in South China, known as ‘Little Africa’ or ‘Chocolate City’ to some.

But by the end of 2014 there were only 16,000 African living there, which according to a CNN report was due to a crackdown by the Chinese government to clean up the town by introducing tougher immigration regulations and increasing the number of police patrolling the area.

There were also cases of racism as the Chinese economy started slowing down, meaning African immigrants trying to eke out a living from all manner of businesses in the Asian giant were now serious competitors to locals.

A dollar drought in oil-dependent West African nations also contributed to the exit of many immigrants from the region.

Despite the lingering haze of stifling grey smog, many Africans were attracted to Guangzhou in the mid-1990s by the high number of industries in the city of about 18 million people.

By then China was waking up to its relationship with Africa and hosted its first Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in 2000.

Since then China influence and presence in sub-Saharan Africa has grown tremendously, making the Asia’s fast growing economy the largest trade partner for the continent, with over $120 billion worth of trade taking place by 2014.

An estimated 1 million Chinese immigrants have found their home across Africa from Nigeria to Guinea to Malawi.

Unlike the African trying to get into Europe, the ones going to China were more entrepreneurial and focused more on doing business in the cities they settled in rather than start a new life there.

“Those people [going to Europe] are usually disenfranchised, with no opportunities, looking to settle,” Roberto Castillo, a lecturer in African Studies at Hong Kong University, told CNN.

“Africans in China are much more entrepreneurial. Many of them have the financial capability to move around and explore new places.”

A survey done on “Africans in China” showed that at least 40 percent of the African migrants to china had at least tertiary education, with a few having PhDs.