Egypt: Chinese Goods

You sure know about the economy of the People's Republic of China, which is one of the largest economies in the world. With an average annual GDP growth rate of 10 per cent, it has become normal to see Chinese goods in Egyptian stores. What is interesting to note is that the Chinese also depend on themselves to sell their goods away from the stores. Every now and then people are visited by Chinese salesmen … erm … saleswomen, who try to sell them products right in their homes.

Tayara Waraa – Kite – wrote a post here about her experience with one of those Chinese saleswomen.

طرقات على الباب
تقول لى بلغة عربية مكسرة : تشترى هاجة صينى؟
أقول لها فى العادة شكراً وأغلق الباب فوراً..لكننى فى هذه المرة كان بيتى عامراً بالبشر فقلت لها : تفضلى
ووضعت البؤجة التى تحملها على الأرض وبدأت تعرض ما معها.. مفارش..ملابس..أدوات زينة
كنت أنظر لها وفى داخلى أسئلة
ليست عما تبيعه فهو معروف منذ بدأ الصينيون فى غزو البلد بأنفسهم وليس فقط عن طريق التصدير لنا..ولكن عما دفعها لهذا العمل الشاق..وتحمل الغربة فى سبيله..وهذه الحقيبة التى تحملها على ظهرها كوزر أو سنام جمل..وعن غايتها وهدفها وحلمها وفتى أحلامها القصير

Knocks on the door
She told me in broken Arabic: “Wanna buy something Chinese?”
I would normally say: “No, thanks” to them and close the door … But this time my house was full of people so I asked her to come in.
She put the bag she was carrying with her on the floor and started to show me the goods she had. Tablecloths, cloths and cosmetics.
I was looking at her, with a lot of questions inside me.
Not about what she sold as it's known since they started to invade the country by themselves rather than exporting their goods to us only. But what forced her to do such hard job, and travel away from her homeland with a backpack like a camel hump. I was thinking about her aim and dreams and her short prince charming :)

She then continues …

يعجبنى هؤلاء القوم رغم اختلافى مع نهجهم القاضى بإنتاج درجات جودة مختلفة لكل السلع بدءاً من الصفر وتلك الدرجة ..درجة الصفر ..هى التى يقومون بالتصدير لنا من خلالها..وينتابنى دوماً عندما
أرى تلك العيون الضيقة المسحوبة أننى أواجه جيشاً من النمل..المنظم..الذى يمكنه أن ينخر فى عظام أى شىء ويحيله فى لحظة إلى هشي

I am impressed by those people although I do not agree with their strategy of having products with various quality levels starting from zero … and it is such low quality products that they export to us. I always have the feeling when I see those narrow eyes that I am facing an organized army of ants who can do almost anything.


  • The Chinese presence in Africa is such a new development and the world is watching closely. Economists, development experts, and political junkies have been trying to figure out in which ways China is good for African development and stability, and in which ways they are detrimental. It’s very interesting for me to get the perspective of an Egyptian. I appreciate the humanism given to the Chinese woman by Waraa. It seems that so many people in Waraa’s position would feel aggrieved by the Chinese presence and act accordingly, instead of empathizing with the desire to rise from poverty.

  • @Bethany: Humanism? She compared the Chinese to “an organized army of ants” and referred to her “short” Prince Charming.

    Her heart might be in the right place but there’s an underlying racial tension here.

  • @Dave, ehmmm, I can see what you are talking about, but on the other hand you can consider it as a metaphor just to emphasise her idea.

  • Kristina

    You are quarreling about unimportant things…. Of course there is racisme….this is normal, it would be the same every where. But much more important is, that these chinese are doing things (and Waraa is aware of it) that other poor nations would not do: go from door to door, coming to a poor coutry to sell poor goods – just to survive or just to become a little bit better. That is the chinese phenomena. Nobody else does it. We fear it, we admire it, we are astonished – but we say something else. In my eyes, for the enormours courage chinese have, they deserve their obvious success. I say this as a european and while I should be afraid of China. Kristina

  • […] Gadzala A good friend of mine recently forwarded me a most interesting post appearing on Global Voices on the Chinese presence in […]

  • James

    Firstly some of you know nothing of economics, if you have been reading the economy in Egypt, their GDP (gross domestic product) is at 8%! Chinas is 10% and Indias is at 9%.
    Egypts economy has surpassed Sweedens and Austrias, so before you say ‘Poor country’ or whatever bullshit in that empty skull of yours, do some proper research in the economics of a country and look at the new developments and exports coming out of Egypt. Egyptians arent racist, they are a lot more open minded better educated, the 60th richest person in the world according to forbes magazine worth US $12 is Naguib Sawiris who has mobile companies in Asia, Egypt, Middle East and Europe. Egypt has always been multicultural, cleopatra was greek.. so get your facts right..

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