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The China Shop Phenomenon: Trade Supply within the Chinese Diaspora in South Africa

Rachel Laribee

Africa Spectrum, 2008, vol. 43, issue 3, 353-370

Abstract: The recent wave, dating from the mid 1990s, of newcomers within the Chinese Diaspora in South Africa has managed to establish and dominate a line of trade supply all the way from the ports of China to the homes of millions of South Africans. This paper examines the economic environment within which small ‘China shops’ are active, exploring competition within the group of Chinese traders in particular and how the latest wave of Chinese immigrants has affected supply chains and demand within South Africa. A case study in one small South African town demonstrates how the Chinese community utilizes its competitive advantages to maximize the value of its trade. This paper also strives to shatter the notion of a ‘China Inc’, arguing that although Chinese traders in consumer goods may have altered consumer demands within South Africa, above all they compete in an individualistic scramble to gain competitive advantage over other ‘China shops’.

Date: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:43:y:2008:i:3:p:353-370