Chinese Migrants and Africa's Development

New Imperialists or Agents of Change?

Ben Lampert, May Tan-Mullins, Daphne Chang, and Giles Mohan


A thorough and fascinating study of motivations, relationships and impact of Chinese migrants in Africa.
China's recent stepping up of relations with Africa is one of the most significant developments on the African continent for decades. For some it promises an end to Africa's dependent aid relationships, as the Chinese bring expertise, technology and a stronger business focus. But for others it is no more than a new form of imperialism.

This book is the first to systematically study the motivations, relationships and impact of this migration. It focuses not just on the Chinese migrants but also on the perceptions of, and linkages to, their African 'hosts'. By studying this everyday interaction we get a much richer picture of whether this is South-South cooperation, as political leaders would have us believe, or a more complex relationship that can both compromise and encourage African development.

Author Bio

Giles Mohan is professor of international development at the Open University. He has published extensively in geographical, development studies and African studies journals and has acted as a consultant for a range of BBC documentaries on issues of international development.

Ben Lampert is a lecturer in the Development Policy and Practice Group at the Open University.

May Tan-Mullins is a human geographer at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China, having previously worked at the National University of Singapore and Durham University.

Daphne Chang is a staff tutor and a faculty associate of the Development Policy and Practice Group at the Open University.

Table of Contents

  • 1. The Chinese in Africa: migration and development beyond the west
  • 2. China's opening up: internationalization, liberalization and emigration
  • 3. Africa as opportunity: Chinese interests, motives and aspirations
  • 4. Chinese socio-economic life in Africa: networks and realities
  • 5. Constructing the other: narratives of tension and conflict in Sino-African encounters
  • 6. Building bridges: towards conviviality, cooperation and mutual benefit in Sino-African encounters
  • 7. Conclusion: everyday Sino-African encounters and the potential for African development


'This timely scholarly contribution to the evolving discourse on China-Africa relations puts centre stage the urgent need to "build bridges" between Chinese and African citizens through cross-cultural understanding.'
Professor Fantu Cheru, senior researcher of the African Studies Centre, Leiden

'Chinese Migrants and African Development provides a thoughtful, richly informed and theoretically drawn assessment of a complex relationship in flux. The authors do a remarkable job of unpacking the array of actors and differing contexts that shape the engagement between Chinese migrants and African communities. An important contribution to the burgeoning field.'
Chris Alden, associate professor of international relations, London School of Economics and Political Science

'Much is made, very carelessly and generally, of the "Chinese" in Africa. However, Africa is fifty-four separate states, each of great complexity; the "Chinese" presence is equally complex and can be staggeringly different from place to place and historical epoch to epoch. The authors have performed a huge service with this book, distinguishing groups, rationales and debates, to overcome previous, appallingly reductionist narratives.'
Stephen Chan, School of Oriental and African Studies

'The discussion on China in Africa has for too long been dominated by stereotypes and misleading dichotomies. This book is one of the rare studies exploring real Chinese-African interactions, on the ground; it adds a welcome dimension, bringing aspects of this interaction to life.'
Henning Melber, director emeritus, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation

'With a multi-scalar approach, connecting the global, the national and the local; the application of theories of intersectionality and cosmopolitanism; and examples from their in-depth research, the authors help us to understand the complexities and nuances of Chinese migrant engagements with Africans and their impact on Africa's development. This is an invaluable contribution; I wish I'd written it first!'
Yoon Jung Park, associate professor, African Studies Program, Georgetown University


Publication Date: 12 June 2014
192 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781780329161
Hardback: 9781780329178
eBook ePub: 9781780329192
eBook PDF: 9781780329185
eBook Kindle: 9781780329208

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