When you exit the subway station Xiaobei in the heart of China's third largest city they think they are in Lagos, YaoundÃ© or Accra. Colorfully dressed African women rummage through the goods of street vendors, the air smells of baked sweet potatoes and the exhaust gases of mopeds, jostling through the narrow streets. Reveal only the characters on the billboards and the strikingly prominent Chinese police, that is, more precisely located in Guangzhou in China: the workshop of the world.
Only one stop from the main train station is here since the late 1990s, the largest African community in Asia emerged. Depending on how you count between 20 000 and 250 000 Africans live in the district Xiaobei. Most of them came to be: With textiles and electronics, kitchen appliances and furniture. In Guangzhou, everything will be made only imaginable and exported around the world – in the wholesale warehouses on site products cost only a fraction of the price you would pay in Europe or Africa.
However, they all suffer from the widespread prejudice against blacks in China. "It's such a clear social hierarchies based on racial superiority," writes sociologist M. Dujon Johnson. The Cologne-based scientists is the first African-American who has made at a Taiwanese university his doctor.
Barry Sautman, sociology professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, has been researching the topic of Chinese racism. "Racism has a long tradition in China, and racial typologies are deeply rooted in traditional Chinese thinking," he says. The main reason for this he looks in the ethnic unity of thought, which had a major influence on Chinese society.
Everyday racism is correspondingly widespread: "Getting a taxi is much harder than for Chinese for Africans you think I was dangerous or would not pay." Says James Obinna, a Kenyan exchange student at the film school in Beijing. Like watching the African student Zahra Baitie. "A taxi driver in Beijing asked me why Africans eat each other," she says.
"Even in Guangzhou Chinese do not want to live with Africans – neither in space nor emotionally," says Elle Wang, a PhD student at Columbia University, who researches on the subject. "There is a lot of mistrust." Xiaobei, the neighborhood where the majority of Africans live, is commonly referred to in the population pejoratively as "Chocolate City".
In addition to Africans the narrow streets and dilapidated tenements in Xiaobei also accommodate people from outlying provinces of the country, mostly ethnic minorities, often Muslims. In no other place in China there is such ethnic diversity as on the few square kilometers in the center of Guangzhou.
In most days there in Xiaobei from late afternoon bustle. In the underpass between the main street and the Huanshi manageable place, which is at night to a huge market, almost all with the phone to the ear. Fragments of words in French, Arabic, Portuguese, English and Yoruba mingle in the echo of the tunnel walls.
But the police have set up in the square posts, barriers built – often there are raids and searches. The only sign in English is on the edge of the square. Then threatening adorn the rules by which the foreigners have to be addressed here, including very special, "Take and sell no drugs and not prostitute yourself, or you will be arrested or have to pay a fine." There are rules that make it clear what keep the Chinese from the Africans.
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