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China's Second Continent

How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa

By Howard French
15-minute read
Audio available
China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard French

China's Second Continent (2014) is about the mass wave of Chinese migrants who have relocated to Africa in the last few decades. These blinks trace the origins of this migration and outline the profound impact it has on both regions, Chinese-African relations and the world at large.

  • Students of Chinese or African politics
  • Anyone interested in international relations
  • Anyone curious about the long-term influence of mass migration

Howard W. French is a professor of journalism and photography at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He served as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times for 23 years and has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

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China's Second Continent

How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa

By Howard French
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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China's Second Continent: How a Million Migrants are Building a New Empire in Africa by Howard French
Synopsis

China's Second Continent (2014) is about the mass wave of Chinese migrants who have relocated to Africa in the last few decades. These blinks trace the origins of this migration and outline the profound impact it has on both regions, Chinese-African relations and the world at large.

Key idea 1 of 9

China has benefited greatly from globalization, but still faces many social problems.

Everyone has seen the phrase “Made in China” stamped on a product at some point. China might seem to be the world's factory, but it hasn't always been that way. Chinese products actually began spreading in the 1970s, when China started reaping the benefits of the first wave of globalization.

Today, China is the fastest-growing economy in the world, thanks largely to the Western companies that have relocated their production there after the ‘70s. It was more profitable for such companies to produce goods in China because of the country’s large pool of human resources and its different political climate.

In fact, 40 percent of the world's economic growth over the last two decades has come from China alone. Over the same period, the Chinese economy has maintained an average annual growth rate of 10.2 percent – and it's no longer satisfied with just being the world's factory. China is now stepping up as a major player in international politics and is ready to shape the global market.

Economic progress hasn't improved the lives of all Chinese people, however, and many still want to leave the country. Several of the Chinese people interviewed by the author described the intense social pressure they're under at home. Overpopulation, the one-child policy (which limits couples to having only one child) and harsh competition in the workplace have left many Chinese people frustrated with their society.

Hao, a Chinese man who started his own farm in Mozambique, was very clear about his dislike for the social system he left behind. He and many others have emigrated from China, where they can't get ahead because of widespread corruption and the extreme gap between rich and poor. These migrants relocate so they can have more opportunities for advancement, but also to find new homes for their families.

With its rapid growth, China needs a new place to expand to, and it's found the perfect spot: Africa.

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