What. A. Year.
Over the past four months, Black Livity China has consulted members of the community across the country and beyond on how we can further our mission to elevate African and Afro-diasporic voices in China (and on matters relating to China).
Today, we’re extremely proud to announce the launch of our brand new platform – plus some exciting additions.
*Read on to find out why we’ve decided to take our mission one step further*
In a world where the west once exclusively dominated positions of global power and leadership, from media to international bodies, a rising China is posing a challenge to what had, for some time, been the status-quo.
As China expands its influence and establishes itself as a major player in world affairs, the country has doubled down on its commitment to partnering with African and Caribbean nations, amongst others. “China and Africa are destined to be good friends, good brothers, and good partners”, President Xi Jinping declared in 2018 at the BRICS Business Forum, Johannesburg. ‘Win-Win cooperation’ is the motto across the board.
If words alone weren’t enough evidence of these deepening ties, the data on educational exchange and infrastructure speaks for itself.
In 2018, the number of African students pursuing higher education in China reached an all-time high of 81,562. For context, this is compared to less than 2,000 in the year 2003.
According to the Global Education Monitoring Group, China has earmarked 12,000 scholarships for African students alone in 2020. This is substantial in comparison to the 1,100 the UK offers through its Chevening program and the 600 Germany and France respectively award each year.
Outside of education and perhaps more controversially, we’ve seen the growth in Chinese loans and financing of African and Caribbean infrastructure projects too.
In 2009, China became Africa’s largest trading partner with a staggering 10,000 Chinese-owned firms operating across the continent. Chinese Foreign direct investment skyrocketed, surging from $75 million in 2003 to $5.4 bn in 2018. This is withstanding the $1 bn Belt and Road African infrastructure development fund and the $60 bn African aid package, aimed at infrastructure development.
News of these developments have been met with mixed reactions by commentators and politicians from across the world. What does China hope to gain, these commentators ask.
(The Baha Mar resort in The Bahamas – financed by China Export-Import Bank)
Similar concerns have arisen in the Caribbean over infrastructure. The state-owned China Export-Import Bank provided some $2.5 billion to build the Baha Mar resort and casino in The Bahamas — the largest complex of its kind in the Caribbean. Other islands such as Jamaica boast similarly substantial Chinese investments.
But whether we discuss infrastructure or education, diplomacy, or security, missing from the dialogue around China’s ever-deepening relations with these nations are the narratives and perspectives of those who experience the fruits of them first-hand. The people behind the headlines and statistics.
What happens to the tens of thousands of African students who’ve studied in China? How does Chinese education serve Caribbean students once they return home? Do these former students, when returning home, play a role in their nations’ relations with China? Could some of these thousands of students Africans go on to become future diplomats or advocates for African nations, helping to formulate policies that will benefit the continent and its people?
Black Livity China was founded in 2018 by African and Afro-Caribbean students, graduates, and workers living across China seeking ways to explore these questions and more whilst amplifying the voices, insights, and stories of those within our community.
If our experiences have taught us anything, its that China is not simply something happening to African people and people of African descent (in the Caribbean, the Americas or elsewhere) – rather, our communities on the ground are shaping this relationship by actively engaging China and Chinese actors. They are contributing to defining the terms of this relationship in subtle ways that often serve to benefit our nations.
This is ultimately an expression of agency and goes far, far beyond the headlines we read in the typical newspaper or journal.
Being African in China, being Black in China comes with unique challenges. This year, in particular, has highlighted that fact. But we owe it to ourselves to define our narratives. Not just when we see ourselves depicted negatively, or in response to the latest discriminatory online comment.
As a platform, we believe that amplifying the perspectives of Africans and the wider Black diaspora in China (and on matters relating to China) has never been more important than it is now.
In amplifying these voices, Black Livity China seeks to be the missing link, bridging the gap in this discourse. We hope this will help increase awareness and understanding of this relationship, and ensure that we maximise its benefit.
We are thrilled to be relaunching this month to contribute to this mission.
Black Livity China is documenting African and Afro-diasporic experiences in China (and in relation to China) for the benefit of our global community.
We do this by elevating the voices of those within our diverse community
We’re challenging everyone within our community to join us on this mission – here’s how you can get involved :Share your story
We cover community news, perspectives on all things Africa-China, Caribbean-China, or being Black in China, and long-form Academic pieces on these same topics. From technology to entrepreneurship there are so many things to explore.
If you have something to say or add, or if you’d like to be featured why not submit a piece?
Don’t fancy your hand at writing? We know its not for everyone. Another way to have your voice heard is to help us fill out one of our research surveys, designed to help us better document the experiences of our communities across China.
Tell a friend to tell a friend
Finally, tell a friend to tell a friend and spread the word – and that goes for all the exciting organisations striving to build bridges and give a voice to those within our community. From the phenomenal Kente & Silk to Build & B·E/ Black Expo, to Roots Association in Nanjing and the newly founded ADiC Net (African Diaspora in China Network).
If you’re yet to get involved with organisations that serve to further these aims, now is the time!