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GSSC Seminar Series
13 December 2022


Stepping Stones or Stumbling Blocks: Chinese Counterfeits in Botswana

Yanyin Zi (Rikkyo University, Japan)



Chinese counterfeiting has dominated the global counterfeit market, earning a negative reputation even in African countries, such as Botswana and South Africa. Often perceived as low quality (even when they are not) and cheap, while underpinned by a rise in consumption, Chinese merchandise has actively made and shaped Botswana’s economy. This study examines how this merchandise shaped Botswana’s economy in a globalising society of limited resources and uneven development. In a context that is torn between aggressive Chinese merchants and starved local consumers, the unfolding of the fong kong phenomenon in Botswana points towards broader questions about the nature and direction of local economies, in particular the dynamic interplay between local consumers and Chinese merchandise and between local trading policy and Chinese investors. Therefore, studying specific Chinese cases—from selling low-quality goods, to counterfeit goods, to China brand goods, and then to manufacturing ‘made in Botswana products’—offers alternative ways to reflect on the importance of local trading policy. Evidence has shown that a local strategic policy can play a role in guiding seemingly untameable foreign investment to contribute to the local economy and eventually achieve a win-win situation.


Short Bio:

Yanyin Zi is an assistant professor at College of Intercultural Communication, Rikkyo University, Japan. She holds a Ph.D. in Africa Area Studies from Kyoto University and has been researching China-Africa relations since 2011 in Southern Africa. Yanyin is the author of “Iron Sharpens Iron: Social Interactions at China Shops in Botswana”, a book about the everyday interaction between Chinese merchant and Africa people, published by Langaa RPCIG.