Afro- Chinese marriages boom in Guangzhou: but will it be 'til death do us part'? The groom's palms aren't sweaty, there are no pre- wedding jitters and certainly no second thoughts. Today he is realising a dream imagined by countless African merchants in Guangzhou: he is marrying a Chinese bride. Seven days earlier, Jennifer Tsang's family was oblivious to their daughter's romance. Like many local women dating African men, the curvaceous trader from Foshan, who is in her late 2. Non- state- sanctioned religious events like this are illegal on the mainland. Okonkwo, 4. 2, doesn't have a single relative at the rambunctious Pentecostal ceremony, but is nevertheless delighted.
And that makes me half- African, half- Chinese. There are no official figures on Afro- Chinese marriages but visit any trading warehouse in the city and you will see scores of mixed- race couples running wholesale shops, their coffee- coloured, hair- braided children racing through the corridors. Watch: When Africa meets China in Guangzhou. While Okonkwo's dream of becoming Chinese through matrimony is futile - the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau (PSB) denies African husbands any more rights than a tourist - his children, should he have any and they be registered under Tsang's name, will possess a hukou residency permit and full Chinese citizenship.
The relationship with Africa that China has so aggressively courted for economic gain - 2. US$1. 98 billion of trade between the pair - is producing an unexpected return: the mainland's first mixed- race generation with blood from a distant continent and the right to be Chinese. By exporting cheap Chinese goods back home, traders made a killing, and word spread fast. Guangzhou became a promised land. It is easy to believe that every African nation is represented here, with the Nigerian, Malian and Guinean communities the most populous. But Little Africa is a misnomer; in the bustling 7km stretch from Sanyuanli to Baiyun, in northern Guangzhou, myriad ethnicities co- exist.
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Learn about dating Chinese girls, dating etiquette and relationships in China for foreign men. Chia seeds are supposed to help control hunger while they enhance your diet with super-nutrients. But what's the real story? The History of Guangzhou Street Food. Located in Guangdong Province, the city of Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is the birthplace of Cantonese cuisine, 1 of the.
Uygurs serve freshly baked Xinjiang bread to Angolan women balancing shopping on their heads while Somalis in flowing Muslim robes haggle over mobile phones before exchanging currency with Malians in leather jackets, who buy lunch from Turks sizzling tilapia on street grills, and then order beer from the Korean waitress in the Africa Bar. Tucked away above a shop- lined trading corridor, the bar serves food that reminds Africans of home - egusi soup, jollof rice, fried chicken.
Whereas Chungking Mansions conceals Hong Kong's low- end trading community, in dilapidated Dengfeng village - Little Africa's central thoroughfare - the merchants, supplied by Chinese wholesalers, are highly visible. And it's in this melee of trade where most Afro- Chinese romances blossom.“Today is so special . And that makes me half- African, half- Chinese” Amadou Issa came to China in 2. We meet in Lounge Coffee, a hangout popular with African men who like a cigarette with their croissant, while a Celine Dion CD plays in the background. Through the nicotine haze, the 3. Niger - rated by the United Nations as one of the world's least developed nations - tells me he arrived at Baiyun International Airport with US$3. Issa ships 5. 0 to 2.
They excitably describe stuffing suitcases with . African banks can't be trusted, they explain, and it's impossible for a migrant to open a current account in the mainland. Like most of Guangzhou's successful traders, Issa has a Chinese wife. Her name was Xie Miemie but I renamed her Zena.
The retired footballer moved from Senegal to Sichuan province in 2. Chengdu Tiancheng FC. In 2. 00. 7, after an injury had ended his playing career, Ousagna moved to Guangzhou, where he met his Hangzhou- born wife - she worked at the pharmacy from which he picked up medicine for ongoing football injuries.“Initially, they were unsure about me, but now, when I'm not there, they ask my wife, 'Where is your import husband?'” Her parents are both doctors, her sister is a surgeon and her brother a policeman in Guangzhou. This middle- class family have welcomed their Muslim son- in- law.
When a child is born, the parents must register its ethnicity with the authorities: of the 5. Furthermore, Lin has heard tales of husbands returning to Nigeria on a business trip, leaving a mobile- phone number that doesn't connect and disappearing. Like Ousagna and Issa, they often own a car, have a stable income and speak Putonghua. Forty per cent of African migrants surveyed in Guangzhou for the book Africans in China (2.
University of Hong Kong professor Adams Bodomo, had received tertiary education - some even held a Ph. D. As one Congolese merchant tells Post Magazine, . In the early days, the air ticket alone cost US$2,0. In business terms, it is the ideal merger, says Lin, who believes most Afro- Chinese marriages are a cynical play for better business. A Chinese wife can speak to suppliers.
It's useful to have a Chinese partner. Marrying a foreigner is a way to upgrade their social status, because the Africans have money.
But, he says, if African men could legally work in China, many might not take a local wife. My mother- in- law helps look after the children, and she is poisoning them against Africa. She's an old woman, she knows the game she's playing. There is crisis everywhere - terrorists were in Guangzhou last week - it is a sin to make my children scared of Nigeria. For those who have overstayed, a Chinese wife is more than a business partner; she is key to survival. Last August, a major police bust on an African- led drug ring turned life into a daily fight against deportation for overstayers.
From dusk till dawn, police checked passports in Guangyuan Xi Lu, the Nigerian annex of Little Africa, where most of the city's overstayers can be found. Those with Chinese wives went underground while their spouses manned their businesses. One Sunday I ask him, .
He met Winnie, a native of Guangdong province, at church and the pair are united in their evangelic mission (. Winnie, 3. 4, is a pastor at the church's 1. Chinese arm while he leads the larger African congregation. Their tactile body language speaks volumes about their union. Michelle Zhang Nan, 3.
When we meet at Mc. Donald's, she is dressed in an expensive A- line dress and kitten heels. Her three- year- old son, Calvin, trails behind as she carries a tray of Big Macs and milkshakes. A university graduate whose parents are government officials, Zhang lives in Guangzhou but has a prized Beijing hukou and owns a phone- battery retail business. My husband is 1. 1 years older and he teaches me. As one bootylicious Liberian hairdresser, who works on the third floor of a tower block, says, .
Happy families can be swiftly torn apart if the PSB denies a continuation on an African husband's temporary documents. The central government pointedly lacks an immigration department, meaning there is no framework for the assimilation of newlyweds such as Okonkwo. Policy differs from province to province and, compared with those in other Chinese cities, the Guangdong authorities are notorious for their hostile and inconsistent attitude to African migrants. Throughout the two months I conducted interviews, African husbands reported getting a variety of visas. Nigerian businessman Tony Ekkai - who has two Afro- Chinese children - has a . His Nigerian friend Tony Michael, also married to a Chinese woman, with a two- month- old son, is despondently stuck on three- month visas. Six- month, single- entry visas are all Zhang's husband has seen.
Many, like Ousagna, return to their wives' provinces to renew their visas, to evade the capricious Guangzhou authorities. Others - such as Guinean trader Cellou, who has a one- year residence pass - say their country's good political relationship with Beijing helps their visa applications. Guinea was the first sub- Saharan country to forge diplomatic ties with China, and Cellou, who studied business at the International Islamic University Malaysia, spots the glaring double standard: .
After a 2. 01. 2 crackdown in Beijing on African migrants, Nigerian immigration authorities immediately retaliated, arresting 4. Chinese traders in the northern city of Kano. With so much at stake for Sino- African relations, Beijing is playing a cautious game. Lan Shanshan, a research assistant professor at Baptist University, claims there is a media edict on the mainland to report favourably on Africans in China, hence the state- owned newspaper Guangming Daily's three- part special titled .
The American diplomat who wrote the cable to Washington was not privy to the findings. In 2. 01. 1, the government dropped its poker face with the ground- breaking Guangdong Act, which offered rewards to Chinese who snitched on overstayers; made it illegal for employers, hoteliers or educational institutes to serve illegal migrants, and insisted they report all cases to the PSB or face a 1. Even those with valid visas were rattled. When police stop you, if you do not look like a pleasant person to them, they may draw the line on your visa and cancel it. They say, 'China gives, China takes.'.
A political heavyweight in Guangzhou, he is the elected head of the Nigerian community (each African nation has an informal community representative) and also goes by the ostentatious title of President of Africa in China. Emmanuel came to Guangzhou in 1. He has a Chinese wife, a four- year- old son and, in 2. Nigerian- Chinese Family Forum, comprised of 2. His team put together a dossier outlining the contributions to society made by Nigerians and presented it to the PSB, demanding longer and more lenient visas for those with families.
In 2. 00. 9, 2. 00 Africans rioted after a Nigerian jumped to his death from a building to escape a passport check. That was the first time in many decades that foreigners had protested en masse in the mainland. Marc- Anthony now has a three- year resident visa.
Last year, the central government passed the draconian Exit- Entry Administration Law.