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Teacher review of Laisuotuo

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Ingrid Herskind
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Teacher review of Laisuotuo

The short film Laisuotuo ( looks into the growing relationship between China and Africa. The film, shot in China and Lesotho, looks into the misperceptions and prejudices that exist in both cultures. China has been creating huge infrastructure projects and attracting thousands of PRC workers and expatriates in many nations in Africa, but in Lesotho the Chinese are economic migrants in search of a foothold to open small businesses where many work long days in order to make enough money to send back to their families in China. The new ‘China shops’ offered lower prices and were conveniently open seven days a week, but they also put enormous strain on local competitors who were often unaccustomed to facing this new competitive pressure. The film also investigates what it means to be African in China. The young African doctor living in China encounters racism when he knocks on the door of an elderly Chinese man and his sick wife and then the husband slams the door on him. A passerby later assumes the doctor is a drug dealer. Many new immigrants struggle to adapt to their adopted country, but this film uses wonderful storytelling to humanize the struggles of both men.

I had my 12th grade students in my International Relations class watch this film before the first day of school. Knowing that we would be discussing the foreign policies of countries like China and analyzing their development agenda, I wanted my students to think about the human dimensions of these relationships. Many immigrants struggle for acceptance and assimilation, especially in the current political climate. After watching this film, my students were asked to think about the messages the filmmaker was asking about immigration, development, prejudice, and racial stereotypes. They were then asked to bring context to the discussion by researching the roles of both Chinese and Lesotho laborers in reciprocal nations. Watching this film was a great way to begin the school year.  I would also recommend this film for other humanities classes because it asks students to look at assumptions and to humanizes the African/Chinese relationship through storytelling.'s 21 minutes! Perfect for a block schedule or a 45 minute regular period.

clay dube
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another film about china in africa

Another short film about China in Africa was made by a husband and wife American/Chinese team. It was shown on Aljazeera. The film and the filmmaker's explanation for it are at:

Note that it dates from 2010.

Two great web resources for China in Afria are:
China in Africa project (
China-Africa Research Project (Johns Hopkins SAIS:

Finally - a couple related video lectures:
Deborah Brautigam, Will Africa Feed China?
Deborah Brautigam, The Dragon's Gift