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ISSN: 0016 741X
04 | July 2013
Going against the flow
A few years ago, we reported on the ‘reverse El Dorado’ that was taking place in Spain, as illegal immigrants looded in from South America, in search of modern-day ‘cities of gold’. In this issue, Kit Gillet explores another example of migrants moving against the historical lows in his piece on the so-called Little Africa in Guangzhou in southern China (page 30).
Over the past few decades, Chinese migration to Africa has increased signi icantly in response to China’s growing trade, aid and investment linkages with the continent. But, as Kit reports, those trade linkages have also seen increasing numbers of Africans moving to China. Indeed, from just a few hundred traders during the late 1990s, drawn by the chance to make their fortune exporting goods from the nearby factory cities, there are now at least 20,000 Africans live legally in Guangzhou, although the number could be as high as 150,000 if the many illegals and those temporarily in the city chasing business opportunities are included.
The Chinese aren’t exactly known for welcoming foreigners with open arms, and such is the case in Little Africa; many of the Africans to whom Kit spoke told stories of racism from locals and harassment from the police. But still, many are beginning to put down roots, marrying local women and establishing thriving busineses, although renewing visas is reportedly becoming increasingly di icult.
China’s rise to global economic dominance is, without doubt, one of the most fascinating and complex human geography stories of modern times – and this tale of a new trade-related low of people from one continent to another is just one of many that I’m sure will grace the pages of Geographical in the months and years to come.
C O N T R I B U T O R S
British photographer Joseph Fox took the photos of Ijberg in Amsterdam, the world’s first floating township (page 44). ‘It sounded like a great place to live,’ says Joseph. ‘The houses are portable and can be towed to other locations – even abroad.’ He says he would be tempted to live afloat if he possessed sturdier sea legs. ‘Once inside the houses, you can feel them swaying. Walking inside was diﬃcult in some instances if you weren’t used to the slight inclines or declines
Regular contributor Kit Gillet has been living in China for the past six years. On page 30, he writes about the growing immigrant community of Little Africa in Guangzhou, in the country’s south. Despite some racial tensions, ‘for the most part, the atmosphere was relaxed’, says Kit, with people happy to talk casually but less keen on giving their full names or having their photos taken. ‘It was also challenging to find accurate data on the community as it operates with few records.’
‘It was a beautiful time of year to travel, with everything in blossom,’ says Hazel Southam, speaking about her trip to visit the Panda Breeding Centre in Chengdu (page 50). And she was able to spend some time with the two-tone bears, which hadn’t happened for quite a while. ‘I remember being taken to the zoo to see a panda as a child, which, sadly, this is the only way that future generations are likely to see them, as their habitat is being destroyed by building, farming and climate change’
On the cover: A baby panda rests in a tree at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan Province in southern China. Photograph by Clare Kendall
July 2013 | UK£4.50
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