Dr. YAN Hairong
Department of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
"A New Metaphor of China? Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries"
2 Nov 2012
Dr. YAN Hairong of the Dept. of Applied Social Sciences, Hong Kong Politechnic University, presented a talk entitled “A New Metaphor of China? Rumors about Chinese Convict Laborers in Developing Countries.” She examined a rumor that has become especially virulent since 2010, one that says Chinese workers in the large construction and infrastructure projects in Africa are prison laborers. She showed that these rumors are false, and are in part the result of misperceptions of Chinese workers’ uniforms, discipline, long work hours, rapid work pace, and the fact that they often go out in groups. The talk showed that many of those spreading the rumors have political motives and use the rumor to criticize China. She concluded by suggesting that the rumor was a metaphor for China’s authoritarianism, abundance of prisoners (although the US has a higher percentage of its population incarcerated), “slave labor”, hazardous exports (with criminals as a new kind of export), and colonialism.
Interested readers can read her China Quarterly article, written jointly with Barry Sautman. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0305741012000422