Chinese nationals turn to street vending

HARARE - It has the globe’s fastest growing economy, yet it’s a tale of two worlds demarcated by poverty and riches.

From Europe to Africa, China is spreading its wings, while its nationals are now a permanent feature in most of countries as its population continue to balloon.

The country considers itself as developing, but compared to most African countries, it is way ahead in terms of industrial and infrastructural development.

Most of China’s work in Africa involves investment and developmental projects.

The Chinese nationals have also flooded Zimbabwe, where they are mostly involved in mining and infrastructural development, but a new wave seems to be rising as some are now resorting to street vending — raising questions of their social standing and status in the country.

Walking in the streets of Harare some Chinese nationals are seen selling cheap handsets that are mostly an imitation of original smart phones.

These Chinese vendors are mostly found along Fourth Street at the Road Port Bus Terminus and Africa Unity Centre in the Central Business District.

This street-vending business has become a new trend witnessed over the last few weeks, a rare phenomenon, in a country where most of these Chinese were seen as employers more than vendors.

Most Chinese nationals in the country are miners, infrastructure developers or have small shops where they sell clothes, electrical gadgets and kitchen wares, while street vending has always been a preserve for the local people.

China is the world’s wonder story, moving from a slow paced economy 30 years ago to a global giant that has leaped German and Japan, landing the world’s second biggest economy.

Most governments across the world cannot do without the Chinese and with the United States struggling, some analysts say it is a matter of time before the world’s biggest machinery and transport equipment exporter takes over as the world’s biggest economy.

Skyscrapers and massive construction efforts in China show a high powered economy that’s gearing itself towards greater expansion.

However, the phenomenon of these Chinese nationals spending the day toiling the streets of Harare, depicts the other side of the country, showing that poverty might also be wreaking havoc in this colourful nation.

According to officials, one in 10 Chinese live in poverty, signalling how the giant nation also has a battle bridging the gap between its world star status and realities at home.

Huang You Yi, deputy director-general of China International Publishing Group — an organisation founded in 1949 with a mission to introduce China to foreign countries through books, magazines and websites told Zimbabwean journalists, who were on a tour in that country last year that over 100 million Chinese nationals were living in poverty.

China which constitutes 20 percent of the world’s population with 1,3 billion people, has recently been developing fast economically.

Huang You Yi said there was a great disparity between the poor and the rich in China, which he attributed to different resources available in different provinces, which might enhance the development of certain places.

He said the western side of China was poor in terms of resources, leading to most people moving to the east.

These economic disparities might have pushed out some of the country’s nationals to seek greener pastures in other parts of the world, including Zimbabwe, where they end up selling handsets on the streets.

In 2011, China and Africa’s trade volume reached 166,3 billion US dollars, three times the figure in 2006.

Cumulative Chinese direct investment in Africa has exceeded 15 billion US dollars, with investment
projects covering 50 countries including Zimbabwe.

China has also been to the aid of previously affluent blocs such as Europe, which is deep in economic turmoil.

China, with $3,2 trillion in foreign exchange reserves, has assisted in bailing out other European countries.

The face of China is a sign of a blissful life, ranging from beautiful cars, shopping malls and boasting of the world’s greatest infrastructure but still over 100 million of the country’s population live on less than a-dollar-a-day.

Comments (1)

May the new minister of indigenisation and empowerment protest to our chinese friends that vending is for Zimbabweans.Chinese people should be restricted to building dams,roads,construction

Colonel - 18 August 2013

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