The following article was published on Congo Daily (今日刚果), a WeChat channel for the Chinese expatriate community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The name or identity of the author is not known. What makes this article so interesting is how it reflects the views and attitudes of a certain segment of the overseas Chinese population in Africa that is often from economically disadvantaged rural backgrounds where they received only minimal education. It’s very important to remember that the views expressed in this article represent only those of the author and not those of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese nationals who reside across the continent. Please click here to view the original article in Chinese (中国男人在非洲务工，为啥有些人不愿意回国？原因很现实).
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in interactions between China and Africa, with many Chinese businessmen choosing to invest in Africa. Africa has long been associated with poverty, but in recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of Chinese men working in Africa. After going to Africa, most of them choose to stay in Africa, get married, and start families there.
Chinese Working in Africa
Due to poor infrastructure, Africa’s economy has struggled to develop. Security is also a worrying issue, with frequent outbreaks of violence, and high mortality rates from various epidemics.
Despite these challenges, Africa possesses rich natural resources and cheap labor, which has caught the attention of many Chinese. China has also been aiding Africa in building infrastructure projects, including power plants, textile parks, and urban railways. This cooperation benefits both sides: China gains access to Africa’s resources, while Africa relies on China’s support for its development.
According to statistics, there are over 100,000 Chinese adult men working in Africa. Life in Africa can be quite harsh, yet in recent years, there has been a growing phenomenon where more and more people choose to settle down in Africa.
Reluctance to Return to China After Living in Africa
In fact, there are three main reasons why (many) Chinese in Africa are reluctant to return to China:
- Firstly, they receive respect from the African people. With China’s economic development, incomes have steadily increased, leading to a significant rise in labor costs for businesses. In order to reduce these expenses, some companies choose to set up factories in Africa. This not only increases the company’s revenue but also provides many job opportunities for the local people in Africa. The wages offered to the local Africans are much higher than the local average, making many Africans welcome Chinese people and take pride in marrying them. This kind of treatment is something they cannot enjoy in their homeland, which makes many Chinese willing to stay abroad.
- Secondly, the cost of living in Africa is low. Nowadays, many people, either for business or personal reasons, choose to work in Africa. In Africa, they earn more money than they were in China but their living expenses are relatively low. This significantly improves their quality of life. In China, buying a house would require a lifetime of savings, but in Africa, it is much easier. This also keeps many to stay.
- Lastly, the cost of getting married in Africa is not high. Africans have great admiration for Chinese people, and many locals feel proud to marry Chinese. This makes it easy for Chinese settled in Africa to find spouses. They don’t need to spend a large sum of money on bride-price, which is crazily high in China. And in some cases, they don’t need to spend a single penny if they have understanding in-laws.
Overall, living in Africa, apart from feeling hotter and being far away from home, provides a strong sense of happiness and contentment. This makes many people choose to settle here.
China Brought Benefits to Africa
Ethiopia is a densely populated country in Africa, but its unemployment rate is very high, with nearly half of its citizens lacking jobs and income sources. The main reason is the backwardness of Ethiopia’s industries.
In 2008, taking the opportunity of the Beijing Olympics, Ethiopia‘s visited China, hoping for assistance in its development. The cooperation was finally established in 2015, leading to the construction of Ethiopia’s first industrial park.
This park currently houses over 30 companies in industries such as cement, footwear, automobile assembly, steel, and textiles, providing nearly 10,000 job opportunities for Ethiopians. The average salary in Ethiopia is only around 300 RMB (around $50), but the companies within the industrial park set the minimum wage at 600 RMB (about $100), and they also provide employees with company shuttle services and three meals a day.
This not only helps Ethiopians to earn a living but also boosts the overall Ethiopian economy. This is just one country in Africa; China has invested and built factories in many other countries, deepening bilateral relations and fostering rapid economic development in these countries.
Overall, the main reasons why these people are reluctant to return to China are due to the low cost of living and low labor costs in Africa, which significantly reduces their life pressures. After adapting to this lifestyle, they naturally do not want to return to living in China.
No matter where you settle down, making yourself happy and joyful is the top goal. As our quality of living improves, no matter what country you are in, if you are hardworking and willing to work, you will surely reap the rewards accordingly.
This article was originally published on the Congo Daily WeChat channel (in Chinese): 中国男人在非洲务工，为啥有些人不愿意回国？原因很现实