“What People, What Cultural Exchange? A Reflection on China-Africa

  • Tu T. Huynh


At this point (and to the audience of this publication), that China has a presence in the African continent is well known. In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, due to my research on new Chinese migrants, those arriving in the 1990s and 2000s, in the province, someone is likely to tell me that there are Chinese people even in the remotest villages in the (former) Transkei area. Although the impression is that they are everywhere, when I would ask where exactly are the Chinese people located, except for those who come from the surrounding areas of Dimbaza where Taiwanese-owned factories were once located, very few people can provide a clear answer. If the truth were told, except for those who work for Chinese employers, the few returning customers who make the effort to talk with the Chinese entrepreneurs, and students and lecturers at schools where there are international students from China, the majority of the local people in South Africa and the Eastern Cape, in particular, have not seen a Chinese person and fewer know of or has close ties with a Chinese person.