“But this is not about actually existing realities.” He continued:“It isn’t so much that they dislike black residents as they dislike what they imagine about black residents.
Yet most respondents Quartz interviewed remain optimistic.
Vladimir Emilien, a 26-year-old African-American actor and former varsity athlete, said that for him, learning Chinese was crucial to better interactions with locals.
More recently, violence broke out after the Chinese government started providing scholarships allowing African students to study in the country in the 1960s.
Many Chinese students resented the stipends Africans received, with tensions culminating in riots in Nanjing in the late 1980s.
However, many have pointed out that relationships appear unbalanced, with China taking Africa’s limited natural resources in exchange for infrastructure investment.
“Racism is racism, period, and although some people would say that in different places it is more explicit, nuanced, or implicit, as long as there are victims we have to call it racism and deal with it,” said Adams Bodomo, a professor of African studies focused on cross-cultural communication at the University of Vienna.
Many of them partner with Chinese firms to run factories, warehouses, and export operations.
Others are leaving China and telling their compatriots not to go due to financial challenges and racism.“Guangdong has come to be imagined to embody this racial crisis of some kind of ‘black invasion,'” said Kevin Carrico, a lecturer at Macquarie University in Australia who studies race and nationalism in China.
Of course, while a growing number of Africans work and study in China—the African continent’s largest trading partner—the notion that black people are “taking over” the world’s most populous nation is nonsense.
Estimates for the number of sub-Saharan Africans in Guangzhou (nicknamed “Chocolate City” in Chinese) range from 150,000 long-term residents, according to 2014 government statistics, to as high as 300,000—figures complicated by the number of Africans coming in and out of the country as well as those who overstay their visas.
In interviews with Quartz, black residents referred to online comments and racist ads as more extreme examples, but said they are symptomatic of broader underlying attitudes.