2019 Volume 20 Issue 1 Pages 297-323
Starting at the beginning of the twenty-first century, informal transnational trading developed rapidly between China and African countries. Tanzanians in Hong Kong and southern China formed a union with the intention of providing mutual assistance and solving the various problems they face in Hong Kong. This union includes a multitude of "commercial travellers" who move frequently between China/Hong Kong and African countries, while the core members of the union are brokers who stay in China/Hong Kong for a relatively long period of time. Thus, the union cannot request that its members contribute to the group based on an expectation of reciprocity. Further, the union includes many criminals, and there is a lack of mutual trust at the individual level among members. This paper discusses the logic of "gambling on open reciprocity" in such unions in China/Hong Kong to examine the nature of civil society organizations formed by people who have been excluded from the narrow classification of "good citizens." Further, we propose that this civil society organization of Tanzanian immigrants is more similar to the sharing economy platforms provided by commercial business via the Internet than to the type of civil society proposed by conventional civil society theories.