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African Leaders Declare Crisis in Guangzhou is “Sorted Out.” What Did We Learn?

Less than one week after alarming videos, photos and accounts of African migrants being forced out of their homes and hotels in the southern China city of Guangzhou, the story has been “sorted out” in the eyes of many African leaders.

Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, declared as much this week in a Twitter post after meeting with Chinese Ambassador Zhou Pingjian. Similarly, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama convened a press conference earlier this week, also with Ambassador Zhou, to explain that he was satisfied with the Chinese government’s explanation over what happened.

The African Union and a number of African politicians across the continent echoed similar sentiments: as far as they are concerned, the issue over the purported maltreatment of African migrants in Guangzhou is now settled. 

So what did we learn from this unprecedented crisis that touched on so many raw nerves in the China-Africa relationship? There were conflicting narratives based in part on the fact that the Chinese do not consume the same social media diet as does the rest of the world. And the Chinese declared repeatedly that contrary to what people saw on Facebook or heard in the media, there is no discrimination in Guangzhou or anywhere in China for that matter.

Hannah Ryder was watching all of this unfold from Beijing where she’s the CEO of the consultancy Development Reimagined and a longtime commentator on China-Africa issues. Hannah joins Eric & Cobus to reflect on the events of the past week and what lessons, if any, were learned from this whole affair.

Show Notes:

About Hannah Ryder:

Hannah Ryder is the CEO of Development Reimagined, a pioneering international development consultancy, and the first Kenyan wholly foreign-owned enterprise based in Beijing. She also sits on the Executive Board of the British Chamber of Commerce in China, is China Representative of ChinaAfrica Advisory and International Development Director for the Made in Africa Initiative. Hannah is a former diplomat from both Kenya and Britain, and an economist by training with close to 20 years of experience. In all her current roles she provides strategic advice and practical support to Chinese and international organizations and stakeholders on issues from the Belt and Road Initiative, to Africa’s growth markets, development effectiveness, green growth and China’s foreign aid.

Prior to this, she led the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s work with China to help it scale up and improve its cooperation with other developing countries, including in Africa. Hannah is the recipient of numerous awards for her leadership in China and Africa and her contributions to gender/race diversity, has played various advisory roles for the UN, and is regularly cited in and invited to write/talk on global media outlets such as Bloomberg, Project Syndicate, Quartz Africa, the Diplomat, the Guardian, CGTN, TRT, and more.

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