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African Immigrants In China

Animosity towards African students has been a recurring event since the early 1960s, when scholarships provided by the Chinese government allowed many students from ‘China-friendly’ African countries to study in Beijing. This policy was originally based on the idea of ‘third world solidarity’ and Mao Zedong’s linking of the fight against ‘western imperialism’ with Marxist class war. Many of these African students were given larger educational grants than native Chinese students, and hostility towards the Africans was a regular occurrence. Most of these students returned to their home countries before reaching the end of their courses due to poor living conditions and the political uncertainties of the Mao era. From the mid-1970s, China allowed African students to study outside of Beijing.

As well as resentment about the larger stipends given to African students, hostility from Chinese students towards Africans also flared up when there was contact between African men and Chinese women. In an incident in Shanghai in 1979, African students were attacked after playing loud music and making sexual remarks to Chinese women. These clashes became more common during the 1980s and sometimes led to arrests and deportations of African students. Cultural differences in dating habits added to the tensions.

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