“Mathews argues that Chungking Mansions provides a fascinating insight into “low-end” globalization:…”

“Mathews argues that Chungking Mansions provides a fascinating insight into “low-end” globalization: not the slick operations of multi-national corporations, but traders schlepping goods around the world in suitcases. Most come from sub-Saharan Africa, tempted here by the cheap products made in mainland China and the fact that Hong Kong has a largely open border, admitting asylum seekers and merchants alike without too much fuss. Mobile phones are what traders are mostly looking for. Mathews estimates that at least 20% of the mobile phones now in use in sub-Saharan Africa have passed through Chungking Mansions. Some 19 million phones are sold here each year, including China-made branded and unbranded phones, Chinese knock-offs (with names such as “Sory-Ericssen” or “Nokla”), illegal copy phones and used ones returned from Europe. One trader from Tanzania regularly carries home 700 phones in his luggage, making US$500 profit per trip. These African traders are “the Marco Polos of developing-world globalisation”.”

P.D. Smith – Ghetto at the Center of the World