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NO! China is NOT Exporting Convict Labor to Africa!!!!

A China in Africa Podcast

Fifteen minutes into almost any conversation about the Chinese in Africa, 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.

Chen Shun—Xinhua/Zuma Press
A Chinese builder and Senegalese builders work together at a construction site in Dakar, 2009.

Two of the leading scholars on this issue, Barry Sautman of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and 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.

Sautman and Yan’s report, “Localizing Chinese Enterprises in Africa: from Myths to Policies,” should be required reading for anyone interested in Sino-African relations, as it clearly, concisely debunks a number of widely-held misconceptions.

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