Report - China and the Global South: The Central Role of Gender and Sexuality

Poster, text reads: Questions: In recent years scholars, journalists, pundits, and political activists have noted China’s increasing presence around the world – particularly, its growing investments in the Global South. But rarely visible in these writings is the central importance of gender and sexuality in China’s new entanglements. How do Chinese workers, professional experts, government officials and company executives engage in social relationships in the Global South? How are these social encounters shaped by perceived cultural differences in matters of gender and sexuality? Are those whose societies they enter concerned about particular gendered or sexual social effects of an increasingly visible Chinese presence? In turn, how do these Chinese grapple with perceived difference or accusations of inequality that have a gendered or sexual dimension?; Conference: Between May 10-14, 2016, the Center for Emerging Worlds convened a workshop at the University of California, Santa Cruz to discuss the gendered and sexual dimensions of encounters between China and the Global South. Fourteen international participants – including academics and activists from China, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the U.S.A. - examined various points of contact between China and the Global South, including government international relations; China’s growing foreign aid; the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the new BRICS development bank; Chinese overseas investment; Chinese NGOs; and migration of Chinese to other regions and foreigners to China. Participants drew on their own research and collaborative conversations to map the documented and potential impacts of gender and sexuality on these interactions.

Poster, text reads: Findings: Chinese involvement in the Global South has gendered impacts – employment opportunities, aid, and the environmental effects of development projects often fall along gendered lines. However, women and gender minorities are rarely considered in these relationships. New partnerships may also offer opportunities to center gender and sexuality in new ways: could considerations of gender equity become a condition for investment? Might this become a focus for Chinese advocates and NGOs? Chinese investments are best considered in the context of the BRICS countries’ collaborations and differences. These countries are divided in terms of their support for gender equity and sexual rights. China has remained relatively neutral, but shifts in power relations among the BRICS countries may change considerations of gender and sexuality. Rather than focus only on policy impacts, it is crucial to place gender and sexuality at the center of our understanding of how alliances, investments and policies get developed in the first place. For example, China’s concerns about security in a particular region might lead the government to develop policies governing gender and sexual norms. In turn, China’s perceptions of a region might be shaped by configurations of gender and sexuality there; Follow-up: Many research questions remain. For example: how do Chinese women and men interact socially with local communities? How might these interactions inform the consideration of gender and sexuality in investment decisions and government policy? How are other gender and sexual norms influencing those within China? The Center for Emerging Worlds will continue this conversation through research, publications, and future research. Follow our work: Website: Facebook: