Num­ber of Chi­nese im­mi­grants in Africa rapidly in­creas­ing

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By SU ZHOU suzhou@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The num­ber of Chi­nese im­mi­grants in Africa has risen sev­en­fold over less than two decades, although most still plan to re­turn home for re­tire­ment, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey.

The An­nual Re­port on Over­seas Chi­nese Study said the African con­ti­nent was home to more than 1.1 mil­lion Chi­nese im­mi­grants in 2012, com­pared with less than 160,000 in 1996, adding that 90 per­cent of the cur­rent to­tal ar­rived af­ter 1970.

The study was con­ducted by re­searchers at Huaqiao, Pek­ing and Xi­a­men uni­ver­si­ties, and re­leased by the So­cial Sciences Aca­demic Press, a pub­lisher af­fil­i­ated with the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

“The first Chi­nese im­mi­grants in Africa were la­bor­ers work­ing in re­tail or cater­ing. But in re­cent years, more Chi­nese in­tel­lec­tu­als and skilled pro­fes­sion­als have moved to Africa,” said Li An­shan, a pro­fes­sor at Pek­ing Univer­sity’s School of International Stud­ies.

The an­nual re­port quoted a 2015 sur­vey that said 71.8 per­cent of Chi­nese com­mu­nity lead­ers in Africa plan to re­turn to China af­ter re­tire- ment, while only 5.1 per­cent said they would stay in Africa.

Lyu Ting, an as­sis­tant re­searcher at Huaqiao Univer­sity’s Over­seas Chi­nese In­sti­tute, said most Chi­nese im­mi­grants in Africa view the con­ti­nent as a place full of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties where they can save sig­nif­i­cant sums of money in a short time.

“Af­ter re­tir­ing, most plan to re­turn to China or move to other de­vel­oped coun­tries,” he said.

The re­port quoted Xue Xiaom­ing — who has been work­ing and liv­ing in Africa for 20 years and is now ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the Nige­ri­anChi­nese Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try — as say­ing: “We are out­siders. We are not like Chi­nese immi- grants in South­east Asian coun­tries. They have al­ready set­tled down and be­come part of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.”

Zhao Jian­ling, who has been liv­ing in South Africa for 17 years, was quoted as say­ing, “When we first came to South Africa, we thought it was heaven.”

But she added that af­ter a decade, China de­vel­oped rapidly while South Africa fell be­hind.

“If the sit­u­a­tion keeps de­te­ri­o­rat­ing, we would con­sider mov­ing back to China.”

In re­cent years, more Chi­nese in­tel­lec­tu­als and skilled pro­fes­sion­als have moved to Africa.” Li An­shan, pro­fes­sor at Pek­ing Univer­sity’s School of International Stud­ies

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