China’s increasing trade and investment in Africa, while controversial, is likely behind the rise in interracial marriages between Chinese and Africans, a new Al Jazeera report suggests.
Though mixed-race marriages are still a novelty in China, the densely populated nation is seeing more of them and folks are starting to take notice. The report noted that over one million Chinese migrants now live and work in the Motherland while the number of Africans living in China is about half that.
“Forty years ago, it was all but impossible for a foreign man or woman to live in China, let alone marry a Chinese,” said Al Jazeera reporter Adrian Brown. “But today, marriages like this are no longer exceptional … marrying a foreigner is no longer regarded as marrying down in the way it perhaps once was here.”
So went the story of Sandra Made, a native of Cameroon, and Zou Qianshun, who wed in 2017. Qianshun had just returned to his village in northeast China after working for many months in Africa, according to the news site.
The couple is now capitalizing off their “unconventional” marriage by streaming video of their day-to-day lives on social media for the whole world to see. On a good month, they rake in $1,000 in advertising revenue.
“Nowadays there are more and more international marriages in China, even some of [my] friends also married foreigners,” Qianshun said. “Chinese have become more accepting to intermarriage.”
That wasn’t always the case, however. Government figures show that in the 1970’s, there were no interracial marriages recorded in mainland China. Thanks to the nation’s economic courtship with Africa, the country has seen a change in respect to mixed marriages. A 2013 BBC report showed the number of Chinese marrying foreigners has slowly increased, “with 53,000 such couples tying the knot in 2012.”
Still, Qianshun says not everyone was thrilled about him marrying an African woman.
“How can Chinese marry a Black woman? She can leave at any time,” Zhao Fu Qing, Qianshun’s mother, told Al Jazeera. “That’s why at the beginning, both my husband and I said NO to this marriage.”
The couple’s story stands in stark contrast to some African women who’ve found themselves abandoned by Chinese men. According to BBC, Ghanaian women are shamed and left to care for their mixed children alone as Chinese miners who impregnate them return home to China.
China also has a long way to go in reducing racism against Africans. Despite its numerous investments throughout the continent, African people traveling to China face discriminatory behavior included being banned from certain hotels because of their race.
Watch more in the video below.