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Just Approaches? Africa's Migrants in China

Recent global attention has turned towards China’s growing presence throughout Africa given the country’s growing economic and political interest in the continent. As Chinese money and citizens’ move abroad, the country is also experiencing an inflow of immigrants from Africa.

Unfortunately, China’s outdated legal structures have exacerbated tensions between ethnic Chinese and the growing African immigrant population. As China continues its push into Africa for natural resources and strategic diplomatic relationships, many Africans are coming to China in search of job opportunities. The growing presence of Africans in China has spawned a myriad of African businesses and enterprises to support the community.

However, African migrants documented and otherwise, have expressed concerns about the Chinese visa and immigration process as well as socio-cultural challenges.
As a country that has historically sent migrants abroad as opposed to receiving them, China faces substantial difficulties in its legal process when it comes to accepting new immigrants.

A major problem is that the Chinese government does not have a central immigration authority, so it often relies on its security organization to enforce immigration policies.

China also keeps its process for residency extremely stringent.
According to some experts, it might even be a “misnomer” to consider African enterprises in China as formal businesses. While several African governments have welcomed Chinese investment and business, the Chinese government has yet to fully reciprocate.

It is important for China to update its policies to reflect the reality where immigration seems not only inevitable, but also largely beneficial.


© LEHMAN, LEE & XU 2014.
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