By Laiyin Yuan
Author: Song Fangcan
Translator: Laiyin Yuan
Published on: 03/05/2015
Source: Chinese News Service (CNS)
Original text (in Chinese): http://www.chinanews.com/m/gj/2015/03-05/7101911.shtml
The new generation of Chinese immigrants in South Africa is quite different from their predecessors. With better education, more ambition, and international vision, they are breaking the old stereotypes of overseas Chinese as ill-mannered or cheap laborers. This new generation is laying a solid foundation for their future as well as the future of other overseas Chinese.
---- Laiyin Yuan (Translator)
Having no knowledge of English; preferring to carry cash; loving abalone, ivory, and rhinoceros horn; and only spending time with their own small social circles… these are all stereotypes that some South Africans have for the local Chinese population. However, with the arrival of many new immigrants from mainland China and the rise of local Chinese South Africans, more and more Chinese are integrating into South African society and entering major industries in the.
“Today will be the beginning of your brand new life as an attorney,” said to He Hai (Jacky), a Shanghai-born Chinese, by Judge Ismael [transliteration from Chinese – Laiyin] of the South Africa Supreme Court on March 3. On this very day, He Hai successfully passed the South African attorney bar examination and took an oath to become an attorney. He is also believed to be the first mainland-born Chinese to pass the bar in South Africa.
He Hai became a “rising star” in some media outlet’s eyes five years ago when he was still studying at the University of Pretoria. During the South Africa World Cup, he communicated with journalists from all over the world and left a deep impression on the visiting Chinese reporters as the only Chinese volunteer. However, this experience was only a prelude for him to provide service for overseas Chinese in South Africa as a locally-based Chinese national.
He Hai moved from Shanghai to South Africa with his parents when he was 10, and quickly adapted to local living, speaking fluent English and many other local languages. Before entering college, he chose to major in law due to his outstanding English and communication skills, which are considered a major barrier for most of the Chinese students. After four years of undergraduate study and two years of a required internship, he successfully passed the bar. “It was an extremely difficult process. When I was enrolled, there were more than 700 people applying for the law major in our school. Half of them failed in the first year and, of that, only nearly 100 remained and persisted until graduation. After graduation, only those who have interned in excellent law firms could get job offers from large law firms. The last obstacle to overcome is the bar exam,” He Hai explained.
He Hai is not alone in entering South Africa's major industries. China has been the largest trade partner of South Africa in recent years, and South Africa is also China’s largest trade partner on the African continent. With South Africa loosening it visa policy towards BRIC countries’ corporate executives, there are more and more Chinese in the country. The political, economic, and cultural exchanges between both countries will also be more frequent. Many South African companies with international vision are paying special attention to China’s trends and voices, and providing great platforms for Chinese in South Africa. As a result, many Chinese graduates choose to be accountants and doctors there.
Now He Hai has already signed a contract with Adams & Adams, the largest intellectual property law firm in the Southern Hemisphere. He is optimistic about the cooperation between China and South Africa: “many Chinese companies are entering South Africa and using it as a springboard to enter the African market.” Believing he will play an important role in this cooperation, he articulated: “many Chinese enterprises will encounter various difficulties when entering South Africa, such as intellectual property right issues, and I can provide high-quality services for them.”
For the Chinese youth similar to He Hai, becoming an attorney or accountant is not the end of the story. There is still a long way for them to go. “After I passed the bar, I will keep striving for the best in my career. As for being a politician, it requires years of experience. Currently I am still trying to find financial security, so I have no intention towards politics.” However, He Hai still has some expectations. “In South Africa, many politicians are law major graduates.”
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