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Debunking Myths About Chinese Labor in Africa

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comments this week that suggested China imports labor to work on infrastructure projects highlights the incredible durability of one of the oldest myths about Chinese engagement. The reality is there’s been a steady decline in the number of Chinese workers over the years and that the overwhelming majority of laborers on Chinese-run construction projects are locally hired.

Ding Fei, a postdoctoral research associate at the Arizona State University, is among a growing number of scholars who have published research that challenges many of the misperceptions about Chinese employment and labor practices in Africa. She joins Eric & Cobus to discuss her recent column in the Washington Post that focuses on Chinese management practices in Africa and why she thinks people like Secretary Blinken and so many others hold on to outdated perceptions on this issue.

Show Notes:

About Ding Fei:

Ding Fei is a development and economic geographer. Her research focuses on the relationship among state, capital and human agency in the uneven process of China’s globalization, and its implications for industrial transformation and local capacity building in the “Global South.” Fei’s empirical research examines the variegated construction of local work regimes by the globalized Chinese state and private capitals in Ethiopia, with comparative case studies of Chinese companies operating in multiple sectors of overseas investment. Fei earned both of her doctoral and master’s degrees from the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society at the University of Minnesota.

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