China-US Focus Publication

The Black Orient: The Emerging Black Presence in China

                                                               Nicole Bonnah

Encapsulating the stories and lives in the diverse landscape of African and other black diasporic communities in the wide and ever-changing China has become a complex, yet educational endeavour. Having lived and worked in China for almost four years, being black has brought a new dimension to negotiating my way through life and relationships.

China’s continued growth and expansion has catapulted the country to center stage of the global economic arena. The opening up of its economy has created a wealth of opportunities not just for nationals but also expats taking leaps across land and oceans for a slice of the pie.

The growing population of Black migrants and expats can be in part explained by the increasing appeal of the so-called “China Dream.” Everyone from street vendors to English educators are leaving their native countries in search of the economic opportunity, travel, and work experience that China’s 21st century is offering. There is also much to be said about present day Africa-China relations, which has resulted in 1 million Chinese migrating to the African continent and an underestimated African migration to the new economic land of opportunity.

With no official government statistics available to account for the growing population of Black migrants in China, I would estimate the number of black migrants and expats living, working, or hustling in China to be several hundred thousand people. My estimate is based on an in-depth study of government records and a number of visits to several of China’s smaller cities such as Guangzhou, one of China’s biggest trading hubs…

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