May 23, 2015
15 minutes in to almost any conversation about the Chinese in Africa and the question about Chinese labor invariably comes up. "The Chinese are exporting convicts to work on construction sites," according to one of the pervasive myths, or, "Chinese companies don't hire as many locals as Western firms do and the Chinese don't want to assimilate into the local culture." These are powerful narratives that are extremely appealing to politicians and China's critics despite the awkward reality that none of these myths are actually true. Two of the leading scholars on this issues, Professor Barry Sautman of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Dr. Yan Hairong of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, have just completed an extensive new research project that aims to debunk these widely held misconceptions about the levels of Chinese enterprise localization in Africa.