A bad time to be Chinese in Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya — A few days ago 29 Chinese road builders were seized by rebels in Sudan.

Beijing says they are still being held despite a premature announcement by the Khartoum government of their release/rescue.

More from GlobalPost: Sudan and South Sudan are on the brink, again

Now it is being reported that another 25 "mostly Chinese" workers have been kidnapped from a cement factory in Egypt by armed Bedouin tribesmen.

What's behind the abductions?

Opportunity rather than xenophobia. As China makes ever greater inroads into Africa, its workers have proven themselves willing to operate in conditions and places that Western employees shun, either because of the tough environment or the toxic regime.

More from GlobalPost: South Sudan violence spirals out of control

The Chinese workers are willing to work from the fringe rebel territory in Sudan, the deserts of Sinai or the disputed Ogaden in Ethiopia where nine Chinese workers were killed by insurgents in 2007.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.