Using a case study of recently arrived Cantonese-speaking migrants, this article examines the role of guanxi in shaping Chinese newcomers’ economic activities and opportunities in South Africa. In Johannesburg, Cantonese-speaking migrants tend to be employed in restaurant and fahfee (gambling) sectors, which are partially inherited from the early generations of South African Chinese. Through narratives and stories, this article reveals that Cantonese newcomers often strengthen personal and employment relationships through the practice of guanxi, but that doing so can also constrain their employment decisions. Moreover, the ambiguous boundary between the act of bribery and the practice of guanxi may facilitate Chinese participation but can also result in the victimization of the newcomers.
Harris, Karen L.2007. “Scattered and Silent Sources: Researching the Chinese in South Africa” In Chinese Overseas: Migration, Research and Documentation, eds TanChee-Beng, ColinStorey and JuliaZimmerman, pp. 139-165. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press.
Park, Yoon Jung. 2009. “Recent Chinese Migrations to South Africa: New Intersections of Race, Class and Ethnicity” In Representation, Expression and Identity: Interdisciplinary Insights on Multiculturalism, Conflict and Belonging, ed., TinaRahimy, pp. 153-168. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press.
Smart, Alan and CarolynL. Hsu. 2007, “Corruption or Social Capital? Tact and the Performance of Guanxi in Market Socialist China” In Corruption and the Secret of Law: A Legal Anthropological Perspective, eds GerhandAnders and MoniqueNuijten, pp. 167-189. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.
StruwigJare, BenjaminRoberts, MercyNgungu and StevenGordon. 2014. A Survey of Corruption Issues: 2013 (Tabulation Report). Report prepared for Department of Democracy, Governance and Service Delivery (dgsd) and Education and Skills Development (esd). <http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/research-data/view/6888>.
Zhai, Xuewei翟学伟. 1993. Zhongguo renji guanxi de tezhi — bentu de gainian jiqi moshi 中国人际关系的特质 — 本土的概念及其模式 (The Characteristics of Chinese Interpersonal Relationship — The Local Concept and Model). China Academic Journal of Sociological Studies4: 74-83.