A WEBSITE named whisnews21 run by Wildhorse Entertainment of South Africa and purporting to be a music review site, claims the South African government “allowed at least 400 000 Chinese “to swamp the country” during the past six years. ” In a largely xenophobic article which paints Chinese immigrants to South Africa in negative terms — as a new scourge to be feared and replete with a plot by Jacob Zuma’s government — the website claims: “Chinese migrants, mainly from the overpopulated Fujian province in China, have been shipped off to South Africa at an alarming rate. Spreading all over the country, even in the remotest parts, between 6 000 and 12 000 “Chinese shops” sprang up – indicating that the phenomenon is well-orchestrated by both China and South Africa.
This conspiracy reminds one a lot of similar xenophobic news articles written in the 1900s, in particular anti-Semitic items from The Owl which regarded Eastern European Jewish immigration in equally unfavorable terms, and similar articles condemning Greek and Portuguese immigrants.
Quoting “Prof Colin McCarthy”, apparently a retired professor from the University of Stellenbosch, speaking on “Chinese colonization”, the discredited theory that Chinese people have less rights to the planet than Europeans, Prof McCarthy adds fuel to the anti-immigrant fire: “All the evidence indicates that the project to set up such an extensive network of Chinese shops, all following the same pattern and targeting the same market, was well researched, well planned, well organized and well financed”.
Could the professor really be onto something, like well-organised Chinese mercantilism?
“The young, unemployed couples from Fujian province settled into the network – pushing up cheap Chinese plastic, products and clothing into a lucrative retail chain far bigger than Pick ‘n Pay, Pep Stores or Edgars. To make matters worse: most of the Chinese shops are not registered and do not pay any taxes in South Africa’ not even import or export duties – in fact, China puts its clothing exports to South Africa to R11,3 billion in 2010; whilst South Africa’s failing statistics put the Chinese clothing imports at only R6,7 billion! It means that in one single year R4,6 billion worth of Chinese clothing entered South Africa illegally.”
Oh the horror of globalisation and “cheap Chinese imports” and the problem of taxation. The accusation of illegal Chinese immigrants smuggling goods past Customs and Internal Revenue where imported goods automatically gain a VAT surcharge, which is passed on to consumers if the business is registered for VAT, would appear to be groundless and mixed with half-facts. Surely the solution is to offer the naturalised Chinese community registration of their businesses, or to request they invest by setting-up factories and entering manufacturing?
The site then goes on to provide some juicy skinner about the “illegal money” seized by SARS. Surely a simple case of a single business and its failure to register with the appropriate Business Bureau or Forum? Not only is the salacious claim anti-business, but this is like accusing all Greeks of being fraudsters because one of them dodged tax?
“A South African Revenue Services employee spilled the beans on a small Chinese shop in a rural area where, when raided by SARS, R1,2 million was found under the counter.”
Then the HSRC get in on the action:
“Janet Wilhelm of the HSRC observes: “It is amazing how so many people can enter a country seemingly unnoticed!” She quotes the SAPS Aliens Investigation Unit as saying “Many Chinese travel to South Africa via Mbabane, Maputo and Maseru from where they enter South Africa with false identity documents by road”.”
That people still engage in this kind of bizarre right-wing anti-immigrant propaganda and Sinophobic hysteria is simply amazing, that we now have comment from mainstream academics just goes to show how much work needs to be done to combat xenophobia in South Africa. Migration is a global phenomenon caused by economic, social and political concerns. South Africans should be welcoming those wishing to contribute to building our economy, we have plenty of room for development and many immigrants like George Bizos have contributed immensely to the country.
Read more on whisnews21.com