After China and Burkina Faso announced the resumption of their diplomatic ties on Saturday, the first thing on the agenda for Ming Lei, a Chinese living in Burkina Faso, is to apply for Chinese citizenship for his three-year-old daughter.
Ming is the only Chinese married a local woman among the 300 Chinese long-term residents in Burkina. Marrying in Burkina takes time and formalities.
Ming was asked to provide a birth certificate, a certificate stating his single status, and a letter introducing his family members stamped by Chinese embassy in Coate d'Ivoire, which was then in charge of Burkina affairs.
In line with the Chinese custom, Ming wanted to take Christine, now his wife, back to China to visit his parents before their marriage in 2015. However, Christine could enter China on family visa only if she had a marriage certificate.
Later, Ming wanted to apply for a Chinese passport for his newborn daughter, but since there was no Chinese embassy in the country he could not get the paperwork done.
The resumption of the bilateral diplomatic ties provides ample opportunities, according to Ming. Burkina needs development of service industry and infrastructure. If more Chinese can develop these fields in Burkina, life there will be more convenient.
At present, there are about 300 Chinese long-term living in Burkina, accounting for 15 percent of all foreigners in Burkina, and other 200 having businesses in capital Ouagadougou but not living there. They are mainly in agriculture, small commodities, motorcycles, daily necessities, hardware, mining machinery, household appliances, clothing and solar power industries. In the future, more people also mean more competition, said Ming.
In 2012, Ming was invited by his former classmate Guo Lin, an entrepreneur to Burkina. Though the living and working conditions are comparatively better than other African countries, Ming felt differences.
When Ming's company first opened, they didn’t have air conditioner. In the dry season in Burkina, the temperature is over 40 degrees centigrade. But even if they had one, they probably couldn’t use it much because of power cuts. Even in capital Ouagadougou, the power cuts are common.
This also determines the type of products sold by Ming's company. Because there is no electricity in the countryside, they sell farm machinery with diesel engines which are seldom used in China now.