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Reuters: Insight: In Africa's Warm Heart, a Cold Welcome for Chinese

Authors: Ed Cropley, and Michael Martina
September 18, 2012

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Beijing's increasing diplomatic and commercial presence in Africa has led to a grassroots backlash across the country from its native residents.

Malawians bill their country as the "Warm Heart of Africa" and pride themselves on a reputation for friendliness. But Jaffa Shaibu, a burly 32-year-old merchant in a clothes market in Salima, a dusty town near the shores of Lake Malawi, feels less than welcoming to the Chinese traders who have moved in over the past four years.

"The way it looks, one day there will be a big fight with them," Shaibu said. "One day there will be blood."

Echoing a grievance heard across Africa, Shaibu and his colleagues in this town of 40,000 complain of Chinese businessmen with better access to cheap imports of clothes, shoes and electronics, and deeper pockets that allow them to reduce their margins.

That sentiment is part of a grass-roots backlash against Beijing's increasing diplomatic and commercial clout in Africa.

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