Flash of anti-Chinese xenophobia in the DR Congo

  • Johanna Malm (previously Jansson)



Anti-government protestors filled the streets of the DRC capital Kinshasa on January 19 and 20 to protest against a new election law making its way through the National Assembly. The new law calls for a national census before another presidential election is held which could lead to an unconstitutional extension in office by incumbent president Joseph Kabila. Rioters turned their anger against Chinese merchants in the capital, razing stores and attacking migrants. At least three Chinese migrants were injured and 180 were ushered to safety by the PRC embassy. It is not clear exactly why the protestors focused their anger on the Chinese community in particular.

Many of the Chinese who were most affected by this recent upheaval are small business owners who live among the Kinois throughout Kinshasa’s sprawling neighborhoods. In 2010, when Eric lived in the Congolese capital, he spent quite a bit of time with these Chinese merchants to learn more about their personal stories and what prompted them to settle so far home. In one blog entry from that period, Eric profile “Mr. Chen” who owned a small shop far away from the city center and may still today reflect the profile of the shop owners who were forced to abandon their business as they retreated to the protection of the Chinese embassy.

Leading Sino-Congolese scholar Johanna Malm joins Eric and Cobus to discuss what may have prompted this xenophobic outburst.
Periode30 jan. 2015