China and the African continent are currently celebrating the renewal of their partnership. For China Africa is a source of coal and oil, and for the African states China is an ideal commercial partner that imposes no special political conditions upon its suppliers, and even gives them diplomatic backing. But Sino-African relations come into conflict with the interests of the United States, itself concerned about diversifying the sources of its oil imports. A key issue here is that Africa’s enthusiasm for China may rapidly fade, because, in time, rises in agricultural prices will have a negative impact on African economies.
Over the past two decades, Chinese students in large numbers have settled in Japan: a rate of immigration recalling that of the early twentieth century. The inflow has brought about the creation of a Chinese community whose members are highly qualified and economically well integrated into society. Japan’s new Chinese residents are intellectuals by profession. Their lifestyle and the way they present themselves set them apart from traditional immigrants. Here the concepts of transnational entrepreneurs and expatriates are called on to account for the connections they maintain with China and Japan.
A large number of Chinese engineers work in the information technology (IT) sector in Japan, mostly in software programming. Having been recruited in China or Japan, these IT workers do not form a homogeneous group and are subject to very different working conditions. Parallel to this recruitment of Chinese IT workers, Japanese industry imports Chinese labour through on-line working. An increasing number of IT workers are employed by Japanese firms without leaving their own country, thanks to systems for on-line transmission of highly compressed data.
Over the past few years, as conflicts involving migrant workers have become more and more frequent, the Chinese state has called for the protection of their rights, but with the effect of abetting the rise of social movements. New statements made by the state legitimated migrants’ claims. More aware of their rights, migrants, as never before gradually became attuned to their relationship to the political system. While the state is now increasing their access to public institutions and party organisations, migrants deem these measures inefficient, and the result is demonstrations or new forms of mediation and representation. Yet this development does not represent a significant change in state-society relations.