Just ten days after becoming President in March 2013, Xi Jinping, for the first leg of his first official visit abroad, visited Tanzania, South Africa, and the Democratic Republic of Congo — an acknowledgement of the importance of Sino-African relations to China. In December 2015, during the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation in South Africa, Xi announced that China aims to provide US$60 billion finance, to African nations over a three-year period to finance construction, mining, agriculture, and industrialisation projects across the continent. In September 2016, in his opening speech to the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Xi reiterated China’s commitment to promoting industrialisation in Africa, and to boosting trade and investment between China and its African partners. Chinese trade and investment in Africa, alongside cultural exchange with the region, has already increased dramatically over the past three decades: China is now Africa’s largest trading partner (US$385 billion in two-way trade in 2015). It is also the fourth largest foreign direct investor in the region.1
Forum: Diasporic Dilemmas
Between 2005 and 2012, thanks to an immigrant investor program, 36,892 millionaires emmigrated to British Columbia (BC). With sixty-six percent hailing from mainland China, and another fifteen percent from Hong Kong and Taiwan, greater Vancouver’s ethnic Chinese population grew from 17.5 percent of the population in 2001 to 18.7 percent of the population in 2011.17 This demographic shift coincided with the city’s benchmark house price in 2016 rising to CA$1.4 million — double what it was in 2005 and out of range for many other citizens in a city where the median family income is CA$76,040.18 While housing prices were doubling, inflation-adjusted income growth in BC was far and away the worst in Canada — falling by as much as 2.4 percent according to some estimates.19 This strange state of affairs led some analysts to argue that an influx of wealthy Chinese immigrants generating most of their wealth overseas had allowed the housing and labour markets to decouple — a troubling conclusion in a city with a long history of anti-Chinese racism.
On 28 October, a plane flew over Seattle towing an aerial banner with an American flag and the words ‘WA CHINESE AMERICANS FOR TRUMP’. (WA stands for Washington State.) Chinese Americans for Trump, which by November claimed upwards of 6,000 members across thirty states, was the brainchild of David Tian Wang, himself only a Green-Cardholder. He told Seattle radio station KUOW that Chinese Americans supported Trump on immigration and national security. He also cited resentment against affirmative action programs supporting access to education for students from underprivileged backgrounds, which, he said, ‘Chinese Americans see as disadvantaging their own children’s chances of getting into good universities’.20