Prof. Dr. Adams Bodomo is Professor of African Studies (holding the Chair of Languages and Literatures) at the University of Vienna, Austria. He also directs the University’s research platform on Global African diaspora Studies. He is the author 12 books and numerous articles in Linguistics, African studies, and international studies involving Africa’s relations with Asia and Europe.
“Guangzhou, along with many other Chinese cities like Hong Kong and Yiwu where Africans visit, live, and engage in trading activities, is known for its ubiquitous pedestrian bridges. In the case of Guangzhou it is not uncommon to see many hawkers illegally displaying temporary stalls on these pedestrian bridges where they sell goods to mainly Africans and other foreign traders. From around 2012, the city security personnel, which has previously mostly turned a blind eye to these structures and activities, suddenly started clamping down on Africans on a regular basis as they became a prominent group of customers on these bridges in downtown Guangzhou – resulting in the sudden disappearance of Africans on these city center bridges and other prominent open door markets. This has led to some journalistic reports claiming that Africans are leaving China in mass quantities. But if these Africans have all but disappeared from the pedestrian footbridges where are they now? Are they leaving China or they are regrouping elsewhere in Guangzhou and other parts of China? How many Africans are in China and from which African countries do they come to China? What do they do in China? How are Africans responding to this and other unfavourable policy transformations such as an increasingly heavy-handed clamp down on illegal immigration? How resilient are African communities in Guangzhou and other parts of China? This paper is built around, first, addressing these and other empirical questions towards an understanding of various categories of actors within China’s African diaspora communities before turning to examine the theoretical implications of seeing these African diaspora communities as bridge communities for strengthening Africa – China linguistic, cultural, and trade relations.”