Displacement and socio-economic (in)mobility of Chinese expatriates in Africa

Streaming Media


The Chinese in Africa / Africans in China Research Network Conference Organising Committee in collaboration with the Centre for Cultural Research and Development at Lingnan University, Hong Kong

Event Title

CAAC2021 2nd Online Mini-symposium : Contemporary Chinese Mobilities in East/Southern Africa

Document Type





10:30 p.m.


Online Session via Zoom


This article investigates the transnational experiences of Chinese expatriates in Africa, drawing upon survey, semi-structured interviews, and sketch mapping with Chinese expatriates working in different sectors in Ethiopia. I argue their transnational movement are shaped by inter-state diplomatic ties, overseas ventures of Chinese companies, and the individual aspirations for better livelihoods in China. Specifically, expatriation is marketed by official rhetoric of South-South skills transfer at the state level and sustained by management activities and discursive constructions of certain employee characteristics (e.g. suzhi) as strategies for differentiation at the firm level. The emergence of a transnational social order of stratification among expatriates indicates that Chinese in Africa are neither a homogenous group nor free-floating cosmopolitan elites with power and resources at their disposal. Instead, most expatriates are simultaneously domestic and international migrants moving between places within and beyond China. They are subject to varying degrees of empowerment, displacement, estrangement, and socio-economic (in)mobility at migratory nodes, which informs their future migration decisions.



Additional Information


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 on industrial transformation and local capacity building in the “Global South”. Fei's empirical research examines the variegated construction of local work regimes by globalized Chinese state and private capitals in Ethiopia, with case studies of Chinese companies operating in multiple sectors of overseas investment. Fei earned her doctoral degree from the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota, and is currently a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Arizona State University, and an early career fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies.

Recommended Citation

Fei, D. (2021, February 26). Displacement and socio-economic (in)mobility of Chinese expatriates in Africa [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/858/