Direct airline flights between Africa and China have jumped over 600% in the past decade. More and more short-term Chinese tourists and students are visiting Africa. One favoured sport – golf. There is therefore a major shift from China’s “Go Out” policy, implemented in 1999, which sent employees of Chinese state-run companies to Africa. China’s official record shows there were around a quarter of a million Chinese construction workers, engineers, translators, company executives, etc, in Africa in 2017. Chinese tourism is now calculated to be around 2 million. At the same time Africans are also going to China on business. The largest African immigrant community in China is in Guangzhou, the manufacturing hub and trading port in southern China. The Chinese authorities counted 200,000 entries to the city by African visitors in 2016.
Shenzhen Transsion Holdings Co., whose mobile handsets outsell iPhone and Galaxy smartphones in Africa, is planning an initial public offering on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style Star Board to raise about $423m. Transsion, is believed to have overtaken Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. as the largest mobile phone brand in Africa, tapping into the huge and fast-growing market. Since founding the Tecno Mobile brand in 2006, founder Zhu Zhaojiang has overseen an expansion that now claims a 48.7% market share in Africa. Transsion shipped 94.44 million mobile phones to Africa in 2018, out of a total of 124 million phones shipped to the Continent.
According to the Financial Times, the government of the Chinese tech hub of Hangzhou has assigned officials to 100 local companies including Alibaba. The move, described as a local initiative, highlights one of the many flashpoints in China’s tense trade relationship with the US. Washington is unhappy with the blurred lines between the Chinese state and its tech companies – thus its row with Huawei. The top executives of companies such as Alibaba already spend much of their time dealing with government officials on policy and other issues. Meanwhile, Jack Ma has stepped down from his role as CEO of Alibaba. He announced that he would be returning to teaching this time last year.