While China’s presence in Africa attracts ever more attention, Kit Gillet explores the other side of the coin in Guangzhou’s “Little Africa”:
“When it comes to Africa, the US and Europe think about aid, whereas the Chinese think about trade. They have a very organised vision of what they want,” says Deborah Brautigam, author of The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, from Washington, DC.
“Over the last five or six years there has been a huge increase in engagement between China and Africa across all fronts: trade, loans, finance, migration.”
Nowhere is this more evident than in Little Africa where, in among the city’s wholesale textile markets and electronics stores, black faces are almost as numerous as Asian. English is the common language of trade, though you can also hear French, Igbo (an ethnic language of Nigeria) and Cantonese.
There are at least 20,000 Africans, mostly from West African nations such as Nigeria, Ghana and Mali, living legally in Guangzhou, a city of about 12 million. The number could be as high as 150,000 if you include the many illegals and those temporarily in the city chasing business opportunities.