Mhambi has been redeployed.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The bitterswet taste of Chinese chocolates

Mhambi read two interesting articles this week, both relating to the Chinese and blackness. The first is a Chinese reporters account on a blog of 'Chocolate City'. Chocolate City is the name Chinese taxi drivers have given to a 10 square kilometer area centered around Hongqiao, the area in Guangzhou China where Africans have settled.

Touch Africans in China
Originally uploaded by triciawang 王 圣 㨗.

'Many taxi drivers aren’t willing to take on “chocolate” customers. They don’t like the nose-irritating perfume, nor the constant bargaining on every trip. Some drivers will use excuses that “you’re too big, the car won’t fit you”, or “I don’t understand your foreign language”; but some don’t care, “driving anybody is just business.”

Based on official statistics, since 2003, the number of Africans in Guangzhou has been growing at 30-40% annually. Based on a report in the Guangzhou Daily, there might already be 100,000 in the community. They come from Nigeria, Guinea, Cameroon, Liberia, and Mali. Amongst these, Africa’s most populous country Nigeria claims first place.'

The other is news that South African Chinese will at last be considered 'black' under Black Empowerment legislation.

'The Pretoria High Court on Wednesday granted a landmark ruling that Chinese South Africans are to be included in the definition of "black people" in legislation designed to benefit previously disadvantaged groups.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius granted an order in terms of which Chinese South Africans are included in the definition of "black people" in the Broad-Based Economic Empowerment Act and the Employment Equity Act. Both laws cover Africans, coloureds and Indians.'


SA labour minister Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has been accused of racism for his remarks about the classification of South African Chinese as black.

He said he believed the Chinese who brought the application were targeting the benefits of black economic empowerment.

"That's why other people are having fears, because the fear is that they are business entrepreneurs. I hear people for instance saying, 'We are going to be flooded by everything from China.' We don't know whether that's one of their objectives, that they flood us and then we don't challenge them because they are coloureds. So I suspect that on the BEE front, there could be some serious challenges there."

"On the labour market, I don't think they have given it careful thought, because there they are going to have some serious difficulties in relation to the way they are treating the workers in the workplaces."

"Because in some workplaces, that we have visited together with some of the inspectors, they even refuse to speak English. They say, 'We can't speak English.' Chinese pretend to be dumb when they are not. We know they are not. Chinese are very clever people."

Mdladlana said 90% of Chinese factories inspected by his department had been found "wanting".

"I suppose if I stand up now and say I want to be classified as pink, so maybe a court will agree that you are pink, even if you are not pink."

The Star on Wednesday quoted Patrick Chong, chairperson of the Chinese Association of South Africa, as saying that he was disappointed by the minister's comments.

"I don't think he has missed the point; I think he has missed the entire community. The community that went to court are as South African as the next person and speak English and Afrikaans fluently. We had to learn these languages. Also, the South African Chinese don't own many factories. I can think of only four, and they are in the Western Cape," Chong told the newspaper.

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