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Africans face challenges of integrating into local life in Guangzhou


02-15-2017 14:41 BJT

The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is home to tens of thousands of African entrepreneurs. Many Africans work hard to fit in, but still face many challenges amid cultural differences that lead to clashes with locals.

Julie is from Liberia. She came to Guangzhou to source clothes and other goods. But she found there are some challenges in getting along with local Chinese.

"Any time you get a feel that they make you feel you smell bad, you want to talk to them, sometime you don't know the place, you say hello, they say no no no, just walk away from you. so I think that is the challenge we are having," Julie said.

Since the late 1990s, tens of thousands of African businesspeople have migrated to Guangzhou to find opportunities. Due to their different traditions, cultural clashes with local Chinese happen on a daily basis.

"The smell of their body and perfume mixed together. The smell was very strong and not good," A Guangzhou taxi driver said.

"I met a small group of Africans who always fell behind with the rent. But most of them are good people," A Guangzhou resident said.

Felly Mwamba has been living in Guangzhou for over 10 years. He said living in a foreign country is not easy, and he always offers tips for his fellow African friends to adjust to the new environment.

"I always tell my people, this is my word, they know it. I talk to them, please let us try to respect the China law, knowing the mentality of the Chinese people, their culture and what they think, what they do. we will find that China is a good place to live. if you don't respect the law, that means you will be a problem. and then yourself will say that this place is not good. no. you change yourself before other people," Mwamba said.

And Professor Liang Yucheng found that a number of Chinese have negative opinions about Africans, because there are few chances to have deep communication with them. And most Chinese know Africans only through limited videos and pictures.

"Those who haven't spoken with Africans always have negative opinions based on their limited knowledge and impressions. So I hope authorities encourage the media to introduce more balanced reports on Africans," Professor Liang said.

Professor Liang believes with the help of media and improved education, locals, especially the younger generation, will have more understanding about the growing African presence in the city.

As China and Africa do more business together, the number of Africans in Guangzhou is likely to rise. All sides want integration to work, because when it doesn’t, everyone suffers. and experts say mutual respect and understanding of their cultures are critical for effective communications between the sides.

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