Does Chinese Employment Benefit Africans? Investigating Chinese Enterprises and their Operations in Africa

by Tang Xiaoyang

Abstract

The growing presence of Chinese enterprises in Africa has attracted public attention to their employment practices. Critics blame Chinese for not hiring local workers, paying low wages, having precarious working conditions, and providing little training. Addressing these issues, this article first examines the reality of Chinese companies’ employment practices in Africa. Doing so reveals the diversity of Chinese enterprises’ employment patterns and the reasons behind these patterns. The paper argues that the criteria for evaluating the benefits of employment are diverse and related to comprehensive social background.  Efforts for improvement need to take various socio-cultural contexts into account. It is through mutual learning and the convergence of various cultural traditions that hiring practices can benefit both Chinese and Africans.

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Tang Xiaoyang is Associate Professor, Department of International Relations, Tsinghua University and a resident scholar at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. His research interests include political philosophy, China’s engagement in Africa, and the modernization processes of developing countries. He previously worked at the International Food Policy Research Institute.

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