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China in Africa: The Real Story

New Low for South African Reporting on Chinese Immigrants

Deborah Brautigam

Here come the Chinese...
Kevin Bloom and Richard Poplak writing in the Daily Maverick, "Chinese shopkeeper cover story a new low for South African Journalism," deftly deconstruct the cover story in Noseweek, yet another piece of "yellow journalism" about Chinese immigration into southern Africa. Here's the lead for the Daily Maverick story, describing the Noseweek piece: "a humid conspiracy theory wrapped in the guise of journalism, and when it isn't racist and xenophobic, it's plain wrong."

One of the main themes of the Noseweek story is that the mom & pop Chinese shops one can easily find in many parts of South Africa are part of a giant plan, rendering them pieces of one huge "chain store". Anyone who has actually interviewed Chinese traders (as I and many others have, including Bloom and Poplak) would realize that this is so silly that it would be laughable if it wasn't deliberately intended to arouse xenophobic fears.

I'm really glad to see an uptick in the fact-checking coming from the continent. Wonder when we'll start seeing something similar coming out of China?

A hat tip to Sven Grimm at the Centre for Chinese Studies, Stellenbosch University.