Friday, March 27, 2009

Sino-African "Relations" - The Chafrica Epic Continues

The string of stories about Chinese investments in Africa that began to perculote out three years ago into the mainstream media continues. Yesterday's story in the NYT, "As Chinese Investment in Africa Drops, Hope Sinks,"describes the usual hawkish investment tactics of Chinese companies waning in the crisis (Breakoff from a major hydroelectric dam project in Guinea was the center of the story.) Photos (which revolve around Jinya Group employees, it looks), here.

Stefan R. Landsberger at Leiden University, The Netherlands, has quite a collection of propaganda available online (most published in a book Chinese Propaganda Posters—From Revolution to Modernization). One page of his site deals particularly with representation of Africans in early PRC materials (posters Landsbergers' scans)- from Landsberger:

"The appearance of colored peoples, and blacks in particular, in Chinese propaganda posters always has been problematic. Before the CCP grasped power, the only attention devoted to colored peoples in Chinese art was of a negative tone. Once the PRC was established, however, this attitude changed. Now that racial problems were seen as class problems, China increasingly discovered similarities between its own traumatic experiences with ‘white imperialism’ and those of other victimized ‘colored’ people in the world. It was time to downplay the traditional and deeply ingrained feelings of superiority. One of the first official steps to gain credibility as a supporter of the oppressed was taken in September 1950, when the Chinese lodged an official protest against the policy of apartheid in South Africa. Africans soon became regular guests in Beijing, where they were entertained at parties and met with the highest state leaders. By the late 1950s, many delegations had passed through Beijing and Zhongnanhai. But the Chinese did not actively spread the gospel of revolution and national liberation yet. They merely positioned themselves as a model that needed to be followed to gain independence."

So thus from the international struggle for rights to the neoliberal imperial clamour.

Evan Osnos in the New Yorker on Guangzhou's Canaan Market and African merchants -"Nigeriatown" (Audio Slideshow) and "The Promised Land"

And a from "the ground" article translated from the Southern Metropolis Daily: "“Chocolate City” - Africans seek their dreams in China"

And lastly, a story that (I think? Perhaps I was off the beat) was not on the radar of mainstream media during the Olympics as much but was a buzz on the blogosphere - police allegedly told bars to not serve "black people or Mongolians." (Original Shanghaiist piece.)

Later reports contended that "black" may have meant triad members (literally the "black society") - "Mongolians" had few homonyms to fall back on.

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