The Chinese Community in South Africa

China Monitor - Issue 21 - Aug 2007August 2007 – Issue 21

The take-off of China’s economy and its rapid development since the early 1980’s would not have been possible without the Chinese diaspora. Significant repatriation of Chinese capital to the mainland economy from Hong Kong and Taiwan financed China’s economic take-off. The capital brought with it technology, employment, management expertise and also served to legitimise the Chinese Government’s reform program for the global investor community. The confidence of ethnic Chinese capital in investing in the mainland thus provided the foundation of the China’s growth success phenomenon.

The Chinese diaspora is most pronounced in Southeast Asia where the Chinese business community exerts enormous influence over the Singaporean, Malaysian, Indonesian and Thai economies. Whereas the European Community legislated integration, a type of informal Chinese ethnically based integration is fully operable in Southeast Asia. Chinese supply and distribution chain pervade the region.

South Africa has a small overseas Chinese community that has its origins from the traders and settlers who came to the country three or even four generations ago. With immigration from Taiwan and China, it is rapidly expansion in size – perhaps by tenfold in recent years. The economic result from this migration trend will be more pronounced trading links between China and South Africa. Indeed, Africa’s growing consumer product trade ties with China is being driven by Chinese migration to the continent. This emerging trend will re-direct Africa’s traditional trade networks away from Europe and toward China.

Download PDF – China Monitor – Issue 21 – Aug 2007