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August 15, 2016

China-Africa News: Guangzhou, racism, ivory, South Sudan

What does the Chinese media say about Africans leaving Guangzhou? In early July, CNN published an article on the recent trend of Africans leaving Guangzhou. The story was also picked up by several Western outlets. The feature inspired responses from the Chinese media, and in the last few weeks several reporters were sent to Guangzhou. From the various interviews they conducted with Chinese officials, traders, estate agents and academics in Guangzhou, Chinese reporters concluded that there are several reasons why the city’s small African town has fallen on hard times, and it’s too early to say with certainty if there is a definite trend of Africans departing China en masse.  Read the rest of the review here.

Chinese people are not racist against Africans, writes Roberto Castillo in the Conversation. He argues that China's racialism - the belief that humans are naturally divided into biological categories called “races” - cannot be equated with the West's racism when dealing with Africa. The argument is a reaction to the infamous Chinese detergent advert. Castillo seems to say that the West's history of racism against Africa informs and defines China's racial attitudes towards Africa. It is an interesting reading of the incident - and probably excusatory?

China’s destructive fishing fleet. China's fishermen are depleting fisheries in foreign waters and as a result creating conflicts, according to a Greenpeace report. The report says the Chinese government has indirectly helped fan the growth of China's long-distance fishing industry, which now more than 10 times bigger than America's.

Canada selling arms to South Sudan. China has come under criticism for selling arms to one of South Sudan's warring factions, even as it materially and vocally supports peace talks involving the same faction. Essentially, it is accused of fanning war in the East African country. It is not alone, however; a Canadian company has also been fingered for ignoring sanctions to deliver weapons to South Sudan's interior ministry.

China is also inadvertently supporting the rebels in South Sudan, by selling arms to Sudan. These arms, according to Conflict Armament Research, end up in the hands of the rebels, who receive support from Khartoum.

South Sudan wants China loan. South Sudan is seeking a $1.9 billion loan from China to build new infrastructure. It has taken loans from Chinese interests before, usually repaying them with future oil proceeds.

Africa’s ivory trade divide. Three Southern Africa countries are calling for the ban in international ivory trade to be relaxed, going against most African leaders who believe that the trade has decimated elephant populations in their countries. South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Namibia argue that proceeds from the ivory trade provide incentives to conserve elephants. Their argument, essentially, is that the proceeds from tourism alone do not justify conserving elephants.

West Africa’s rosewood under Chinese threat. The rosewood tree in Ivory Coast did not attract much commercial attention until a few years ago, when China came knocking. The tree's wood is very popular in China, whose large appetite is endangering the tree in not only Ivory Coast, but West Africa. West African governments believe a ban on the wood's imports by China will do more to protect their trees than their own ineffective embargoes.

Kenya railway workers strike. Workers on a railway project financed and implemented by China went on strike over low wages. The workers want their daily wages raised to $5 from the current $2.5. In another town along the railway's route, residents protested the lack of job opportunities from the project, despite earlier promises: those protesters attacked and Chinese workers working on the project.

China’s ivory trade shifts to Vietnam. A new report has identified Vietnam as one of the leading markets for illegal ivory. Ivory sales in the Southeast Asian country - which neighbours China - have grown 600% in the last eight years, according to the report. This, in part, is because of China's crackdown on the illegal ivory trade, forcing traders to use Vietnam as a smuggling base; buyers "bags are rarely checked when crossing between Vietnam and China."

Kenya deports more Taiwan nationals to China. Taiwan was scorned once again by Kenya, which deported five of its nationals to China after acquitting them of wire fraud charges. A similar incident in April provoked a diplomatic spat between the three countries. The decision must have been easy for Kenya to make: it would be costly to cross the Chinese, while the economic impact of frustrating Taiwan is minimal.

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