ASSIMILATION, PERCEPTION AND RELATION:A QUALITATIVE STUY OF THE CHINESE IN ACCRA, GHANA Jinghao Lu April 28, 2010 Photo from http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/images/Hu%20in%20Liberia%20cropped.jpg
Introduction Importance of studying Chinese Migrants in Africa Increasing Chinese involvement in Africa A new trend: lack of research, especially about the life and assimilation of the immigrants Partial media depictions from both sides Source: Park, Y. (2009).Chinese migration in Africa. South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA) Occasional Paper Number 24.
Chinese Temporary Labor Migrants From 1949-1979: China’s ideological aid to Africa Since 1979, increasing economic relationships between China and Africa 2000, 2006 Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) In Ghana: a series of projects, including a hydroelectric dam, two stadia, buildings, roads and fiber-optic cable A large influx of the temporary labor migrants Employees of State-owned enterprises (SOEs) Government sent workers Increasing contract workers for the Chinese private companies
Chinese Entrepreneurial Migrants China’s Open Door Policy (1979) and Go Out Policy (1999) Entrepreneurial Migrants Traders: wholesalers and retailers of Chinese goods Other types of businesses: Chinese clinics, restaurants, manufacturing, etc. Family networks and chain migration
General Characteristics of the Chinese immigrants in Africa A lack of reliable data Money as a major incentive for the decision of migration or stay Do not form Chinese community; keep themselves Do not seek integration with the local society
Theoretical Framework Assimilation Theories Alba and Nee (1997). Waters and Jiménez (2005). The assimilation of overseas Chinese in different countries My Research Questions: Do assimilation patterns vary among different groups of Chinese immigrants in Accra? How assimilation of Chinese explains their positive versus negative perceptions and attitudes towards Ghanaian locals? How does assimilation affect the relationship between Chinese and Ghanaians? Research Model
Research Methods Site Selection: Accra, Ghana Sampling Methods: Convenience Sampling Data Collection: In-depth interviews Observation Number of Interviewees: 29 Chinese 12 Ghanaians Length of Interviews: 0.5 to 2 hours
Demographic Characteristics Estimated Number: 30,000 From various Origin Two major occupations: SOE employees Private Company owner/workers Restaurant Wholesalers/ Individual traders Others Money as a main reason of migration Many migrants age from 20-30 Interaction with Ghanaians depends on occupations.
Results Overall degree of assimilation of the Chinese immigrants in Ghana are very low. Language, living and work context, recreational and health options and social organizationsare good indicators of assimilation Assimilation patterns are different among different occupational groups. Living and work contexts appear to influence the willingness of assimilation Positive Indicators: longer length of stay, ambition to improve English and company policies on encouraging intergroup interactions Negative Indicators: tough workload, short-term labor contract, good health care provision, minimum opportunities to go out and frequency in use of internet for entertainment With obvious indication: younger age, language ability and frequent contact with Ghanaians; English (?)
Results (continue) Overall attitudes and perceptions to Ghanaians are negative more than positive. Generally speaking, Chinese immigrants tend to think Ghanaians are not diligent, not honesty, greedy and simple-minded. whether assimilation may relate to the perceptions and attitudes towards Ghanaians is uncertain. The relationship between Chinese immigrants and Ghanaians Only a small number of Ghanaians have interactions with Chinese. Friendship and brotherhood do exist. Tension also exists: Bad labor practices of Chinese Unfair competition in markets Conflicts with the government workers Discrimination from Chinese towards Blacks in general Conflict escalation due to recent Chinese immigrants Efforts to improve the situation are sporadic.
Conclusions This research is only explorative. More research should be encouraged in the future. The Chinese immigration to Ghana will continue. At least among the immigrant generation, Chinese tend not to assimilate in Ghana, but some occupations have relatively higher degree of assimilation. The perception from Chinese to Ghanaians are generally negative. There are both good and bad relationships between Chinese and Ghanaians. Generally, it tends to deteriorate. Both Chinese and Ghanaian government should be responsible to change the situation.
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