In China, mixed marriages can be a labor of love

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science on 2013-09-22 20:36Z by Steven

In China, mixed marriages can be a labor of love

The Christian Science Monitor

Yepoka Yeebo, Contributor

In one major Chinese city, marriages between Chinese and Africans are on the rise. In a country known for monoculture, it isn’t easy.


The restaurant that Joey and Ugo Okonkwo own was packed on a recent Saturday night, with meal-time banter alternating between English, Cantonese Chinese, and Nigerian dialects among the mainly Nigerian patrons and the occasional Chinese girlfriend. In this bustling southern port city, it’s not an uncommon sight.

Nor is the sight of marriages like Joey and Ugo’s. In Guangzhou, just next door to Hong Kong, a growing number of African traders and immigrants are marrying Chinese women, and mixed families like Joey and Ugo are grappling with questions about race and nationality, in a country that is often proud to be monocultural and is known for sometimes harsh xenophobia.

Joey, who is native to Guangzhou, speaks English with a West African lilt, which she picked up from Ugo, who is from Anambra State in southeastern Nigeria. Joey, whose Chinese name is Li Jieyi, says people regularly look at her 2-year-old daughter Amanda and wonder about her origins.

“Foreigners say she looks like me, Chinese say she looks like her father. I don’t know why,” Joey says as she bustles around the restaurant…

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