Thursday, March 4, 2010

China and interesting times. Part II

In China, besides Beijing, African communities have become a reality in cities such as Shanghai and Hong Kong (Bertoncello and Bredeloup 2007, Bodomo 2007a). There are now more Africans and people of African descent in southern Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Macau and particularly Guangzhou (Bertoncello and Bredeloup 2007, Bodomo 2007b, Li et al 2008) than in any other part of China.

… One common theme cutting across most of the earlier studies on modern African communities in China mentioned above is an emphasis on the novelty of the situation. While it is true that Africans have existed in China, including students and diplomats, among others, for a long time, we have never had, until now, a massive presence of Africans of all walks of life actually migrating to China to start up businesses serving Africans and Chinese alike. A key word that cuts across most of these studies is “emergence”, signifying the novelty and freshness of the phenomenon of African migration into China and the formation of communities there (Bodomo, 2009).

In recent years, China has emerged as a major world power and predictions are being made that it will soon become the world’s leading economy. This trend is a source of much pride for the Chinese themselves, who feel their nation is finally coming into its own after years of stagnation and foreign domination. But the pride may be short-lived. With the world’s lowest fertility rates, a booming economy, and economic dependence on a continent that has the world’s highest fertility rates, everything is in place for rapid population replacement. The past decade has already seen the establishment of a large African immigrant community, which numbers over 100,000 in Guangzhou alone (Bodomo, 2009). If current trends continue, China will eventually become a mere administrative unit—a managerial state—like so many other countries. It will no longer be a vehicle for a specific people, culture, and civilization.

This prediction should come as no surprise. Although world fertility rates have declined over the past half-century, this decline has been spread very unequally, with most of it being in Europe, East Asia, and their respective overseas populations. In particular, Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced very little fertility decline, with the result that its population growth greatly exceeds the growth of its economic base. Many sub-Saharan Africans thus have no choice but to move elsewhere. Whereas this current of emigration used to flow mainly toward the ex-colonial powers, particularly France and Great Britain, it is now spreading to other destinations. North Africa has ceased to be a zone of transit for these emigrants and is becoming a de facto zone of settlement, particularly Libya but also Morocco and Algeria. The same is true for much of southern Europe: Spain, southern Italy, Malta, and Greece. Large communities are also appearing in Israel, the Gulf States, Mumbai and elsewhere in south and southwest Asia. In short, what will happen to China should be no cause for surprise, except for those who think the future is like the past but only better.

And it is unlikely that there will be much resistance in China, at least not initially. The Chinese state and its increasingly globalist business class are committed to the goal of making their country number one both economically and politically. This goal cannot be reached without access to new sources of raw resources, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. Consequently, any moves to staunch immigration from that continent will necessarily be postponed, watered down, or done as surreptitiously as possible. Surreptitious measures, however, cease to be effective once an immigrant community reaches a certain size, since illegal immigrants will simply hide among the large numbers of legally established residents.

Does this mean that population replacement will proceed unopposed in China? No, it doesn’t. But such opposition will not come from the Chinese state. Nor will it be framed in terms of traditional Chinese nationalism. It will probably come from anti-globalist groups or individuals and be framed in terms of a neoracialist ideology whose origins, ironically, will be non-Chinese and probably American.


Bodomo, A. (2009) The African Trading Community in Guangzhou (广州): An Emerging Bridge for Africa-China Relations, accepted (October 2009) for publication in China Quarterly.

Li Zhi-gang, Xu De-sheng, Du Feng, Zhu Ying (2009). The local response of transnational social space under globalization in urban China: A case study of African enclave in Guangzhou, Geographical Research, 2009-04,


Tod said...

THE Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 came 4 months after the anti-African protests in Nanjing and some elements of the Nanjing protests were still evident, such as banners proclaiming "Stop Taking Advantage of Chinese Women".'

The lowered fertility that goes with urbanized economic development will lead to even lower fertility than the one child policy. And, as you say, the urbanized population and the elite dissidents will look towards the US for political ideas.

However there are huge areas which will remain rural, and foreign influences in China have often brought about movements that bore little resemblance to the original inspiration.

According to Heinsohn there is quite an outflow, from the urban areas presumably.

CHINA is the fastest ageing nation in the world after Germany, Japan and South Korea. We usually view China as a sleeping giant. I on the other hand see China as a source from where the Western nations will skim the best. And they will get them. Currently, rich Chinese are preoccupied with moving their riches to Switzerland because with the few children being born in China, people in their 40s have no chance of ever getting a pension. China is down to a fertility rate of 1.6 children per woman. The country is already losing 500 000 of its best every year. The young see no hope of ever being able to build a pension plan in their home country. Therefore they settle in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Canada.'

Those attracted to western ideas are probably disproportionately leaving China and going to the West.

That said, things will probably go the way you're predicting.

The Asian of Reason said...

You've identified the paradox of population as it pertains to China.

It is a great strength, yet also a great weakness.

I would propose a cap and trade on children, along with other market orientated mechanisms to spur population growth and balance. The wild fluctuations in policies of the Mao and Deng regimes have left China with a giant population, but an unbalanced one, in terms of age. Sterilization, incentives for breeding, and other mechanisms could also be considered as a solution.

China's resources are already strained by population. Adding high fertility Africans to the mix isn't going to make it any better. Diversity causes problems, as Americans know all too well.

Eventually, with China's high average IQ, China will transition into a high-tech economy. It will not remain the worlds factory, dumber people can sit around and make clothes and toys. I would suggest Africa, but it would take a tremendous cultural shift to get Africans to work like Chinese.

The picture posted of Africans in Guangdong is funny to me. Why? While the policeman is smiling now, I bet he won't be smiling much when the African mans kids are running around creating chaos.

I suppose you are referring to people like me when you refer to "neoracialist ideology".

Erik said...

I suppose the opposite to this view would be the one offered by Richard Lynn, who suggests that the Chinese will pursue eugenics in the future:

All these predictions about China seem to be all over the place. I don't see how the layman could make a judgment based on these diverging viewpoints.

Glossy said...

"This goal cannot be reached without access to new sources of raw resources, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa."

Most? I'm sure that a very small percentage of the world's mineral wealth is located in sub-Saharan Africa. There's some oil in Nigeria and not much of importance elsewhere.

As to your larger point, the current Chinese leadership seems to put patriotism above short-term profit. I don't see them selling their own people in the way you have suggested just yet. Maybe that will happen in the future, or maybe not.

I suspect that the Chinese are less likely than whites to rebel against their parents and against authority when young. This difference could be rooted in biology.

The West's fall was partly facilitated by this tendency to rebel against one's parents. Maybe without this tendency modern ideological rot will never get a chance to spread in China. Then China will always remain a nation, not an administrative unit. Even though I'm not Chinese or Asian, I'm rooting for this second scenario.

Eugene said...

Damn, Asian of Reason, that was harsh. Are you racist? LOL.

By the way, for those interested in some more info on the plight of Africans in China (I was intrigued by this post and did some more research on the Africa/China connection), I found this article, accompanied by some pictures:

Discrimination Against Africans in China

"China's Little Africa Under Pressure"

Also, for some more background info, this article can also be of interest:

More on the Chinese-African Immigration Patterns

In particular, this second article has some surprising facts. The China/Africa connection appears to have quite a history (I was totally unaware of that). Back in the 1400s, during the Ming Dynasty, a group of Chinese were apparently sent to Africa. Their ship broke and they couldn't sail back, so they married the local African women and settled in Africa. And right now, there are some Africans in Kenya who trace their origins to China, as confirmed by a DNA analysis carried out by the Chinese government at the request of several Kenyans. Unbelievable!

Eugene said...

BTW, sorry to change the subject a little, but this is somewhat related.

In the past, Peter has written about the plight of African-American women in the US who are unable to find AA husbands. In the African-American case the sex ratio is reversed.

I just stumbled upon this YouTube video which explores the subject in detail. This was on ABC, on 20/20 a few weeks ago.


Pretty interesting. Maybe a topic for future posts.

VG said...

When you say African immigrant communities, do you mean they have become Chinese citizens or are they temporarily there on visa? I was under the impression that it is extremely difficult for an outsider to become a naturalised Chinese citizen.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, Confucianism prioritizes loyalty over competence.

Peter Frost said...


The rural/urban split is a key point. The rural and semi-rural areas will remain overwhelmingly Chinese. In contrast, the large urban areas, especially in southern China, will be characterized by very low fertility among native Chinese (less than 0.5 to 0.8 children per woman) and heavy immigration, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa and parts of south and southeast Asia. Much of southern China will become multiracial with many areas being minority Chinese.

Asian of Reason,

Population decline in itself is no problem. Europe lost one third of its population during the Black Death, but it eventually recovered from that loss. In China’s case, however, population decline will be combined with high economic growth. There will inevitably be labor shortages in some sectors, especially in construction and, more generally, in services. It will be difficult to stop immigration without using heavy-handed methods, and such methods would inevitably antagonize China’s suppliers of crude oil and other raw materials.

The best solution would be to aim for a lower rate of economic growth, but this isn’t what China’s business class has in mind.

‘Neoracialism’ is still a developing concept and it may be several years before people agree on what it means. I don’t know how or when it will be introduced into China, but I suspect the main vectors will be people like you who are fluent in both English and Chinese.


Many Westerners fantasize about China and see it as a country where people think fundamentally different. My impression is that China has become very similar to the West in terms of ideology and policy making. This could change of course if the West is no longer seen as a model worth imitating.


China gets a third of its crude oil from Africa. For the U.S., the figure is 22%. In both cases, the percentage is steadily increasing.

The problem in China is not so much the political leadership as the business class, which is becoming an increasingly powerful force in policy making.


“The plight of Africans in China”. I’m not sure I agree with the word ‘plight’. Adams Bodomo (himself of African origin) conducted a survey of the Guangzhou African community and he found that most of them were happy living in China (otherwise why would so many overstay their visas?). In his interviews, he found that the local Chinese tended to excuse behavior in Africans that they wouldn’t tolerate in other Chinese.


Most are ‘undocumented’, i.e., their visas have long since expired.

Anonymous said...

"There will inevitably be labor shortages in some sectors, especially in construction and, more generally, in services. It will be difficult to stop immigration without using heavy-handed methods,"

There are going to be millions and millions of Chinese peasants available for migrant labor for a long time.

Mr_Zlu said...

@Peter Frost

It seems to me that every African seems to be happy in foreign countries.

In France, there are plenty of them bragging about their African origins while expressing no desire to return to their homeland.

If Chinese excuse Africans' behavior, that is, well, Africans are not Chinese, so the latters won't have the same expectations from them.

Seriously, I am really pessimistic about those African migrants and their typical behavior.

Multiculturalism/multiracialism has put the West down the shitter, I don't see why China (and other Asian countries accepting immigrants) will escape that faith.

Instead of focusing on things that matter, they will be debating endlessly on issues that won't advance the country one bit and wouldn't exist if they just kept them out.

Ben10 said...

Why do they have to go as far as Africa to get workers?
Why about India, what about other asians countries, what about Russia, what about....America, where unemployment is so high ?

Anonymous said...

‘Neoracialism’ is still a developing concept and it may be several years before people agree on what it means. I don’t know how or when it will be introduced into China, but I suspect the main vectors will be people like you who are fluent in both English and Chinese.

There already is a proto or paleo-racialism in China. It's the traditionalism, conservatism that has existed in Chinese society for quite some time. People there tend to be implicitly "racialist," as more traditional societies tend to be. It seems that rather it is the "aracialism" and multiculturalism that is a developing concept in China and an import from the West via the vectors of Chinese educated abroad.

The Asian of Reason said...

As to whether China's immigration policies would antagonize suppliers of natural resources, I think it is important to examine the bargaining positions of each country. In the big picture, immigration policy isn't a big deal. I highly doubt African countries would be angered if China stopped Africans from coming.

China's has trade relationships with African countries. Africa provides resources for China, China provides development aid and finished products for Africa. Who has the upper hand in Sino-Afro trade? I'm inclined to say it is China.

And if China ever succeeds in developing a modern military, they can just do the same thing the Americans do, which is, invade!

Mr_Zlu said...

I know a Chinese friend who has done his studies in France.

He is very brilliant and will undoubtedly succeed in his professional life back in his homeland.

His views on races and immigration tend to be aligned to those of the West. Frankly, I can't help but think that the Chinese studying abroad will also bring a part of those silly ideas to their homeland and influence it.

As Africans are concentrated in urban areas, and as they are known for their breeding prowess, we may very well see the birth of a whole new underclass (chinggers ?) that will cause China (or other Asian countries) to apply the same measures as in the West.

Hong Kong has passed laws about racial equality : I see it as the beginning of the end. Chinese authorities may very well not take significant measures against those migrants, as business and trading interests have oftenly nothing to do with the interests of the native people and elites won't experience the daily problems foreigners may cause.

I have been in Hong Kong in the past and was amazed by the efficiency in every level : public transportation, services, cleanliness of the streets, an overall sense of security when walking in the streets at night...

Back in Paris, the reason why it has become so bad was so obvious. Just an example, service in McDonald's in Paris and Hong Kong has absolutely nothing in common. A simple glance at the workers gives me the answer.

Europe has colonized Africa and now, Africa is colonizing Europe. This is something that has nothing to do with logic or whatever... I tend to see it as a revenge, a new form of invasion without guns...

Tod said...

Killed, aborted or neglected, at least 100m girls have disappeared—and the number is rising

ogunsiron said...

mr_zlu said :

His views on races and immigration tend to be aligned to those of the West. Frankly, I can't help but think that the Chinese studying abroad will also bring a part of those silly ideas to their homeland and influence it.

And here I was hoping that with China on the rise, african travellers and/or elites studying abroad would inevitably come in contact with more realistic ideas about race, ideas which would force them to realize what they can't bring themselves to realize : the need for the genetic regeneration of the black african race. I was hoping the chinese would be the ones to forcibly pry open african eyes about this...

Tnen again, who knows how long racial egalitarianism will last in the west ? As whites turn into minorities in one western country after another, they might very well change their mind about all this racial equality business. When that happens things won't be nice for blacks/africans. If by then africans elites have done nothing on the genetic problem, a window of opportunity will have closed for a very long time.

God I'm soo Looking forward to a coming century of struggles against "discrimination" . I predict the advent of Mah Tin Lu Ta Xing. I soo look forward to another century of black people becoming the underclass in yet another continent. Great.

T. Fitzgerald said...


Ths is a good post and I would like to make a couple of points.
1) The idea that foreign labour is required in many developed countries is no longer valid. Automation is accelerating and is probably near the point where job destruction rate exceeds the job creation rate. Indeed many jobs have been lost in the Guangzhou manufacturing region.
2) China might allow immigration now to maintain a good relationship with african nations to guarantee their mineral and oil supplies. The US and Europe are cornerstones of the UN. Once they implode (let's face it, this is already happening) this body will collapse or be powerless to stop China from conquering huge swathes of Africa. The collapse of Europe will also teach the chinese an important lesson about demography.
3) We all know about the skewed sex ratio in China. I know from speaking to chinese that I know that they resent the white male-chinese female marriages further exacerbating this situation. The increased presence of black males (govern their higher level of masculinity) would strain the relationship between natives and immigrants.

Mr_Zlu said...

@ ogunsiron

Africans - elites or not - don't seem to be race conscious in foreign countries, as I am seeing more and more mixed couples - "strangely", the males being Africans in the majority of the couples. Besides, most of them won't be returning to their countries of their own will.

(A friend of mine who has lived in Gabon during his childhood told me that mixed-race children are called "Sans-états" by the native people, which literally tranlates to "without-country-ones".)

@ T. Fitzgerald

2) One can never know the duration of the minute of the executionner (Marie-Antoinette's "Un moment encore, rien qu'un moment, monsieur le bourreau !" before her execution) for the countries you cited. This grotesque egalitarian and multiracial farce may carry on for a long time.

Besides, let's not forget the inertia of the Chinese authorities in applying changes. And also its endemic corruption and the hypothetical lack of political will to get rid of the immigrants, as the elites won't be the ones experiencing the daily problems and may very earn a substancial profits from all this. And maybe Chinese elites will be seduced by the Western ideas and want to apply them.

Yeah, Chinese people can be angered to the poing of taking the matters at hand. But China is an authoritarian regime and won't hesitate to take radical measures against its people to protect those migrants.

(oh yeah, I like being pessimistic, so that I can only be pleased if things go right :D )

ogunsiron said...

Mr_Zlu said...

@ ogunsiron

Africans - elites or not - don't seem to be race conscious in foreign countries, as I am seeing more and more mixed couples ... Besides, most of them won't be returning to their countries of their own will.
I understand what you mean and I might very well soon be an example of that myself. Returning to the country of my ancestors ? I would have liked it to be a possibility but I'm a rightwing darwinist atheist and even before the earthquake, there was just no place for someone like me in the land of my ancestors (haiti). When you think like me you get the feeling that there are maybe like 5 black women on the whole continent who think like you do.
(A friend of mine who has lived in Gabon during his childhood told me that mixed-race children are called "Sans-états" by the native people, which literally tranlates to "without-country-ones".)

I see. I grew up in Gabon but I never heard that term. They were just called Métis. I was a kid though so i may have missed on some of the way adults viewed mixed-race kids. Also, the étis whose parents were themselves métis did see themselves as Gabonese, but of a special kind. One thing I read about recently and that I never caught on while living there is that some of the ethnic groups from the interior of the country ( as opposed to the coastal folks) were actually racist against the mixed race ones and did not like them at all.

To finish up, speaking of Gabon and China, one of the most powerful people in Gabon is Jean Ping :

He was a real oddity back then but people like him will become more and more common all over black africa.

Unknown said...

I’d been taught that left-aligned labels are preferred, to support the prototypical F-shaped eye-tracking heat map of web browsing. The idea is that it supports easy vertical scanning.

But this study revealed this to be incorrect!

study overseas

Mr_Zlu said...

@ ogunsiron

My friend went to school (collège) in Libreville, in the nineties I guess.

Funny yet not surprising that a mixed-race person reaches such an important position. It reminds me of Haïti and its presidents, many of whom were also "métis".

Personaly, if you have never mentioned his origins, I would have taken him for another African, just like Tiger Woods.

One good thing about the internet is that everyone is anonymous and nobody knows nothing about each other. You have declared your origins and details of your personal life.

Nothing personal but, as I have written in another thread, I just don't care about your miseries or your feelings. That won't prevent me from writing that Africans only brings problems wherever they go.

ogunsiron said...

Mr_Zlu :

You have a point about the personal information. But I'm just some ordinary guy after all and i doubt anyone will care enough to track me down or something like that.

About my feelings and existential angst: Some readers and people that i know have found it interesting and novel to them. You don't have to of course and that's Ok. I was just pointing out one reason some blacks feel they can't go back. Just shining a light on the question, not justifying or absolving of blame or whatever.