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The socio-economic participation of Chinese migrant traders in the city of Durban.

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With South Africa attaining democratic status in 1994 and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People‟s Republic of China a “new wave” of Chinese migration into the country began (Park, 2009). Although the Chinese migrants and their business enterprises are visible on the streets of Durban's city centre and surrounding towns, their lives seem shrouded with secrecy. This study was therefore conducted with the aim of understanding the social and economic lives of the Chinese traders living and working in the city of Durban. Interviews and participant observation methods were utilised in order to obtain qualitative data. The analysis of the data indicates that the main priority of traders is to grow their business in order to prosper; therefore their social and economic activities revolve round the activity of trading. Although crime and language barriers deter Chinese migrants from being more active within South African society, their "Chinese shops‟ serve as spaces where they negotiate relationships with diverse people, including their workers and customers. Social, distribution and supply networks are also found to be imperative in order for migrants to effectively conduct their business. It was also noted that social networks, knowledge of the English language, positive experiences in the host country and length of time spent in the country contributes to traders adapting to South Africa. This study also indicates that the future of Chinese migrants in South Africa hinges on the micro and macro conditions of the host country, traders overcoming language barriers as well as maintenance of social networks that provide support to the migrant trader.


Thesis (M.Soc.Sc.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2012.


Foreign workers--South Africa., Foreign workers, Chinese--South Africa., South Africa--Emigration and immigration--Economic aspects., China--Emigration and immigration--Economic aspects., Theses--Sociology.