Angus-Reid: Canadians strongly support COVID-19 test requirement for travellers from China, but also question its efficacy

Of note. 13 percent call the policy racist, perhaps an indicator of the more activist and woke portion of the population (my understanding of the testing requirement is that it is partly due to the unavailability of credible Chinese government data):

China abandoning its COVID zero strategy has caused a ripple of concern around the globe as the world’s second-most populous country faces an unprecedented wave of infections affecting as many as four-in-five people.

In response to rising cases in China, Canada, alongside other countries, set a new requirement this month that travellers form China must produce a negative COVID-19 test prior to takeoff.

Data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds a majority of Canadians supportive of this policy, but unsure if it will be effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19 in their country. Indeed, Canadians who support the policy (77%) outnumber those who are opposed (16%) by nearly five-to-one.

However, those who believe the policy will be effective at reducing COVID-19 infections in Canada (34%) are in the minority. More Canadians believe it will be ineffective (38%) or are unsure (28%). And even among Canadians who support the policy, fewer than half (44%) say they believe it will be effective at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

There are other concerns with this policy. Some, including the Chinese government, have called it “discriminatory”. Others have gone further and called it “racist”. The pandemic has produced plenty of negative side effects, including discrimination and racism experienced by Canadians of Chinese descent. Some worry this new policy of testing travellers from China will rekindle those ugly sentiments. 

One-in-eight (13%) Canadians call the policy racist. However, more (73%) believe it’s not. Canadians who identify as visible minorities are twice as likely to label the policy racist (23%) than those who don’t identify as such (10%). Still, majorities of those who identify as visible minority (62%) and those who don’t (76%) say the policy is not racist.

More Key Findings:

  • Nearly all (94%) of those who oppose the COVID-19 testing policy for travellers from China believe it won’t be effective at reducing the spread of the virus in Canada.
  • One-in-five (19%) Canadians say they are not travelling at all because they are worried about COVID-19. A further 33 per cent say they have approached their recent travel with caution. Two-in-five (41%) are less worried about the risk of COVID-19 when it comes to travel.
  • Two-in-five (37%) of those who have not travelled at all outside of their province since March 2022 say they aren’t travelling because they worry about catching COVID-19.

Source: Canadians strongly support COVID-19 test requirement for travellers from China, but also question its efficacy

Douglas Todd: China’s thrashing of ‘racist’ West disguises its own sins

Of note:

A UBC professor recently told me that when his family members flew back to work in China after the Christmas holidays they had to get a PCR test to prove to border officials that they did not have COVID.

He was taken aback, because he follows multiple Canadian and international media sources. The reports he had seen had tended to sympathize with Chinese officials who claimed Western nations that instituted test requirements for incoming Chinese citizens were “discriminating”.

The professor hadn’t realized Communist Party officials were simply displaying chutzpah, if not hypocrisy. It was not adequately reported that China, which has experienced an outbreak of COVID after lifting restrictions recently, demands anyone entering the country of 1.4 billion people provide a negative COVID test taken 48 hours before arrival.

Much media coverage had either totally failed to report China’s test requirement, or hardly noted it. Instead, many journalists behaved as if China had an important moral complaint: Western politicians were displaying anti-Chinese prejudice.

It’s a small example of a phenomenon common in the West. Many Canadian politicians, media outlets and activists often fall for China’s strategy of putting the West on the defensive with accusations of anti-Chinese racism. Among other things, it covers up China’s own disturbing reality.

While polls suggest about three in 10 Chinese-Canadians experienced insults during the first year of the pandemic (largely because of reports that the coronavirus began in Wuhan), there are countless examples of Canadians going along with China’s political tactic of amplifying and exaggerating incidents in the West, to avoid criticism of themselves.

One example is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Repeating a theme, Trudeau tried to shut down Opposition complaints about how he covered up Ottawa’s engagement with China’s military at an infectious-disease laboratory in Winnipeg, where two scientists were arrested. Trudeau claimed Conservatives feared Asians, accusing party supporters of “intolerance toward Canadians of diverse origins.”

Liberal cabinet minister Patty Hajdu and Sen. Yuen Pau Woo also stand out as Beijing sycophants — for the way they have repeatedly charged Canadians who want to know more about the origins of COVID, and China’s infiltration into Canadian politics, of resorting to nasty “witchhunts” and “conspiracy theories” against people of Chinese background.

In B.C., the list of examples is long. It includes former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu (Richmond-Steveston East), who lost re-election after a torrent of abusive claims of being anti-Chinese after calling for a foreign-influence registry; Richmond lawyer Hong Guo, who has advised China’s state bodies, charging the B.C. Law Society with being anti-Chinese for disciplining her; B.C. scholars enduring the racist label for researching foreign investment in Vancouver housing; Chinese-language media branding former Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart a divisive ideologue for saying Canada’s spy agency is monitoring foreign political intrusion; and scores of Chinese-Canadian advocates for democracy in Hong Kong and Tibet routinely being cited for hating people from China.

China’s authoritarian leaders especially pull out the race card to crush people who point to the incarceration, mass surveillance and draconian clampdown on China’s 10 million Muslim Uyghurs.

The Chinese state-controlled Global Times has tried to stop Canadian criticism of the treatment of Uyghurs by pointing fingers at this country’s residential school system for Indigenous children.

This is not to overlook how accusations of anti-China prejudice are among the milder things thrown at Chinese-Canadians and others who fight for the rights of Uyghurs, Tibetans or Falun Gong members. China also intimidates through threats to health and livelihoods, including of family members in the motherland.

If anyone should doubt that race-baiting is a concerted strategy of China’s (as it is in Russia), check out last year’s statement from China’s embassy in the U.S. in response to the Democrat’s outlining their position on China. In a lengthy diatribe, the embassy accused Americans of white supremacy, flagrant hatred toward Asian-Americans, modern-day slavery, torturing immigrants, bullying and despising Muslims, forced labour, and slaughtering Indigenous people.

Bill Chu, a Vancouver anti-racism advocate, worries many in the West are being fooled by the propaganda spread in Chinese-language media and through pro-Beijing organizations that anti-Chinese hatred is widespread.

“A favourite PRC tactic is to use the terms ‘China,’ ‘Chinese’ and ‘Chinese Communist Party’ interchangeably. The PRC has mixed them all up so often and for so long that criticism of the CCP is now interpreted by China as a criticism of the people, and thus a racist act. The purpose of labelling such criticism as racism is to silence Western critics and politicians,” said Chu, who has been honoured for his work in Indigenous reconciliation.

“Canadians are so used to political pluralism that many assume Chinese citizens in the People’s Republic of China are enjoying the same,” Chu said. But while critics of the West have freedom of expression, the one-party dictatorship practices draconian censorship, lacks the West’s ethnic diversity, and allows almost no permanent immigration.

China’s record is shocking on racism, even while the Communist Party’s goal is to portray it as largely a Western phenomenon. In addition to brutal treatment of Muslims and Tibetan Buddhists, many reports have monitored abuse of Black people. In largely homogeneous China, where citizens are 90 per cent of Han ethnicity, Filipinos also complain of brazen discrimination.

While repressive China denies its own racist reality, Chu reminds North Americans to go in the opposite direction: “To be fair and acknowledge mistakes by the West.”

How are Chinese-Canadians responding? It’s tricky to capture the views of the 1.7 million people of Chinese origin in Canada, of which 831,000 were born in China, 487,000 in Canada, 228,000 in Hong Kong, and 72,000 in Taiwan.

An Angus Reid Institute poll of Canadians during the pandemic suggested about one-third of residents born in China “feel like an outsider in Canada,” a higher rate than for other ethnic Chinese.

However, a hefty 88 per cent of all Chinese-Canadians also said “I love Canada and what it stands for.” That was virtually the same proportion who agreed, “I feel a strong sense of belonging to Canada.” StatsCan reports many are doing well in education and careers.

Combining such polling results with recent reports about how Chinese nationals’ interest in emigrating to Canada had spiked 28-fold during the country’s lockdown, it would seem not many are truly buying Communist leaders’ accusations this country is a vipers’ pit of hate.

Source: Douglas Todd: China’s thrashing of ‘racist’ West disguises its own sins

ICYMI: The number of study permits issued to Chinese students has significantly declined since 2018

Of note, the contrast between students from China and those from India and Philippines, the former in Canada for education purposes and the latter two pursuing shorter term programs as a pathway to permanent residence:

The number of Canadian study permits issued to students from China has dropped significantly since 2018, a period marked by a deteriorating diplomatic relationship and COVID complications, but China’s place as the top source of foreign university undergraduates has been only moderately diminished.

International tuition fees are crucial to the operation of Canada’s universities, which rely on the more than $6-billion that foreign students contribute annually in such payments.

Much of the decline in permits has been among students below the postsecondary level, where numbers have been down by about half over the past four years.

A little more than 52,000 study permits were issued to Chinese students through the end of October this year, according to new figures provided by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. That’s down from more than 90,000 in 2018. With two months of visa processing still to be tallied, it remains to be seen whether this year’s total will surpass the 62,000 visas issued in 2021 or mark a fourth straight year of decline.

In December, 2018, Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested while passing through Vancouver airport, and Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were jailed in China in apparent retaliation, sparking a diplomatic crisis.

There were concerns subsequently that China might encourage its students to study elsewhere, and thereby threaten a key source of Canadian university funding. A similar situation arose when Canada clashed with Saudi Arabia over human-rights issues and it pulled many of its students from Canadian schools.

Then, the pandemic further threatened to derail the educational link between the two countries, as severe lockdowns in China and uncertainty about the viability of in-person lectures in Canada hampered student movement.

Despite the upheaval of the past several years, China had more than 22,000 university undergraduate students approved for study permits in the first 10 months of this year. That’s down from more than 28,000 in 2018, but still the largest number for any single country. It also had 1,876 PhD student visas approved, up slightly compared with 2018.

There has also been a leap in study permits issued to students from Hong Kong, which are counted separately from those from mainland China. In 2022, more than 9,600 permits were issued to Hong Kong applicants, compared with just 2,600 in 2018.

The most significant growth in international students in recent years has been among students whose primary goal is a path to Canadian permanent residency. Those students, with the largest cohorts from India and the Philippines, tend to take shorter programs at the college level, rather than four-year university degrees.

India, which had 197,000 student visas approved, had just 12,700 permits (about 6.5 per cent of its total) at the university bachelor’s degree level. Still, the 80-per-cent growth in Indian student visas since 2018 is significant, and the numbers might have been even higher were it not for significant visa-processing delays over the summer.

The vast majority of Indian students are pursuing shorter schedules, which are less costly and include a pathway to a postgraduate work permit and permanent residency. More than 65 per cent of Indian students approved this year enrolled in college diploma or certificate programs, which are one- to two-year courses, with a further 7 per cent in university master’s programs of similar duration.

The Philippines also had a large share of students (about 60 per cent of 21,000) enroll at the college diploma or certificate level, compared with about 3 per cent at the university bachelor’s level.

Andre Jardin, associate registrar of admissions at the University of Waterloo, said the impact of the pandemic makes it difficult to judge the significance of any declines in Chinese university students. At the University of Waterloo, the number of students coming directly from China is down noticeably in recent years, in the range of a little more than 10 per cent, he said, but up a little this year compared with last year. There has also been an increase in the number of Chinese students entering after a year or two at a Canadian high school.

“For quite a few universities, China is still an overwhelming force, just based on population and a long history of sending students abroad,” Mr. Jardin said.

But it’s been three years since Waterloo and many other schools were in China recruiting in person, he said. Add the Chinese government’s message of caution around COVID-19 and uncertainty about whether classes would be delivered in person in Canada and it’s understandable to see some decline in the numbers, Mr. Jardin said.

“I would argue that this is still not the barometer year. We’re still in the midst of COVID response. I think next year will be a bit more the test. Will we see the trend line go back up or have the last few years changed things permanently?”

Source: The number of study permits issued to Chinese students has significantly declined since 2018

Douglas Todd: Why some Canadians born in Iran and China watch their backs

Of note:

Many of the thousands of demonstrators who lined Lions Gate Bridge last month to oppose Iran’s brutal regime expressed anxiety in the presence of photographers and videographers.

Some Iranian Canadians in Vancouver’s Human Life Chain, who were joining worldwide protests against the death of teenager Mahsa Amini after she was detained by Iran’s morality police, pointed fingers at strangers recording their public defiance.

“People were very brave to come out and show their unity,” said Farid Rohani, a leader in the Iranian Canadian community. “But many were fearful of people taking photos. They were pointing and saying, ‘You’re an agent of the regime.’ Some fights broke out.”

Rohani, a member of the B.C. government’s committee on diversity and policing, has himself been subjected to slander by people aligned with Iran’s regime. And an acquaintance was detained last year at Tehran airport, shown a photo of him sitting beside “Iran-hating, Israel-loving” Rohani, and warned to stay away from him.

Rohani feels relatively safe speaking out because he came to Canada in the 1970s and no longer has family in his theocratic homeland. But there is always a risk for Canadian opponents, including Soushiant Zanganehpour, organizer of the Vancouver protest. He called on Ottawa to do more to prevent Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and affiliates from threatening Iranians who protest.

“There are a lot of regime officials and their families who systematically come here, some are even citizens,” said Zanganehpour. “We are facing threats against our families, our lives, with people that drive by our houses at nighttime. I’m calling for stricter immigration policies, not just sanctions, but more investigations into who is here and why.”

Similar concerns arise from Persian podcaster Ramin Seyed-Emami of Vancouver, who was recently informed by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service that Iran maintains a list of Iranians abroad who it deems a threat. The officer suggested Seyed-Emami take safety precautions, including being wary of “honey traps” — attractive female spies.

And these are just stories of pressure applied to Canadians born in Iran, of which there are more than 213,000.

Also being intimidated are Chinese Canadians, of which there are 1.7 million, including 820,000 born in the People’s Republic of China.

Last week, Amnesty International Canada reported its computer system was hacked after it had raised alarms about China’s harassment of people in Canada with Uyghur and Tibetan roots, as well as those connected to Hong Kong and the spiritual group Falun Gong. Their events are often recorded by suspected agents of China.

There are countless stories. The parents of Vancouver-raised human rights activist Anastasia Lin, Canada’s former Miss World, have been hounded by security agents and others who demand they make their daughter stop accusing the leaders of China of being a danger.

And when Cherie Wong came to Vancouver in 2020 to start Alliance Canada Hong Kong, a pro-democracy group, she received threats by phone in her hotel room, despite checking in under another name. The person said, “We know where you are. We’re coming to get you.”

What Lin and Wong undergo echo new reports by the Spanish human rights organization, Safeguard Defenders, which says China has set up 103 unofficial “police stations” around the world, including in Toronto and Vancouver, to monitor the Chinese diaspora. The regime, it says, has already put the squeeze on 220,000 “fugitives” to return to China.

“These reports are scary. The Chinese Canadian community has known the overreaching claws of the Chinese Communist Party for decades. We have witnessed their agents of influence,” said Fenella Sung, a Vancouver-based pro-democracy activist. 

Sung describes so-called “Little Pinkies” (jingoistic nationalists) in Vancouver “disrupting Tiananmen Massacre candle vigils, shouting down protesters at public areas such as SkyTrain stations, taking photos of church-goers who prayed for Hong Kong, and the like.”

Further, pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong have “even noticed the signal of their cellphones cut off when they were around Chinese consulates. Their ability at surveillance and infringement of our freedoms have been much strengthened in recent years. It severely violates rights on Canadian soil.”

Such chilling incidents all add up to illegal infiltration of Canada by foreign governments, says Charles Burton, a senior fellow of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute who worked in the Canadian embassy in China. Canada, he said, must do more to stop it.

Canada currently shows minimal resistance to hostile foreign governments, said Burton, who just returned from a conference in Berlin, where 240 global participants discussed how to combat interference by Chinese agents.

The often-public intimidation is in part designed to create the impression that China’s authorities have a long reach, said Burton. But even while China has more diplomats in Canada than any other nation, and diplomats often serve as spies, it is difficult to know the extent of their power.

Chinese and Iranian agents especially target opinion leaders. They interfere with their speech and often make sure they know they are being monitored, said Burton, which is especially hard on university students.

While not particularly worried about himself, Burton said he is also frequently targeted, including by attractive Chinese women who claim they are “very interested in seniors,” something he finds almost comical.

Still, Burton calls on Ottawa to do much more.

“The RCMP have recently said they are intending to put more resources into protecting Canadians who are subject to menace and harassment by agents of a foreign power,” he said. “But up to now we haven’t seen arrests of any of these people. Nor have we heard of any people declared persona non grata for engaging in activities not compatible with their diplomatic status.”

CSIS, Burton said, has set up a website where people who have experienced foreign interference and espionage can report online. But it stipulates it is not a law enforcement agency, only an information gatherer.

Nevertheless, Burton says it is useful to see more public talk these days echoing his long-held admonition that Ottawa combat the foreign harassment of citizens.

“And if that results in Chinese government retaliation, then I think we simply have to accept that. I think it’s more important to protect our freedoms, democracy, security and sovereignty than it is to protect market access for Canadian commodities that might go to China.”

Heightened vigilance would also earn Canada greater respect from China and Iran, Burton said. The more exposure that governments, educators and the media give to such infiltration, the better things will be for all Canadians.

“It will shed some sunshine on this thing. And sunshine is an excellent disinfectant.”

Source: Douglas Todd: Why some Canadians born in Iran and China watch their backs

Douglas Todd: Chinese interest in emigrating to Canada jumps 28 times

Kurland has it right that there is a big difference in interest, based upon web stats, and acting on those interests in terms of applications, as the US interest after Trump’s election demonstrated. 
IRCC web stats “immigrate to Canada” show a comparable increase in Chinese interest in Canada, but only about 21 percent (January-November 2019 compared to 2021). However, applications from China were essentially flat from 2019,  January-October for the same period in 2021 (2022 numbers have a time lag due to data entry delays). Admissions have also remained flat for the same period.
And of course, the share of China as a source of immigrants has fallen over past years for a variety of factors:
I have been following IRCC web stats for four years now and am not finding any significant correlation with applications and admissions:
China’s most popular internet search engine experienced a 28-times surge in residents looking up the terms “conditions to immigrate to Canada” during the populous country’s severe COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
According to an internal Canadian immigration department report obtained under access to information requests by a Vancouver immigration lawyer, the search engine Baidu saw soaring interest in “immigration to Canada” and “immigration” before it suspended use of the terms in April.

Source: Douglas Todd: Chinese interest in emigrating to Canada jumps 28 times

Ibbitson: A demographic apocalypse lies behind Chinese protests and Saunders: China will soon not be the world’s most populated country. That’s good – so why is Beijing fretting?

While Ibbitson offers an apocalyptic view, Saunders present a more nuanced picture, noting that:

Population decline will soon be the norm in all but a handful of countries. While governments around the world are racing to keep population up to avoid the higher public costs of that decline (especially in structurally underpopulated countries such as Canada), we’re all going to have to learn to make substantial progress without population growth. The soon-to-be second-biggest country ought to be leading the way.

Starting with Ibbitson’s apocalyptic view:

The Chinese government will probably be able to contain the protests over COVID-19 restrictions. Beijing will probably be able to contain the protests that come after that, which may be about COVID-19 or something else. But what about the protests after that? And the ones after that?

People who are pushing back against excessive restrictions by an authoritarian regime are also reacting to a slow-moving demographic apocalypse, though many of them might not know it.

China’s population will probably begin to decline this year, and will continue to decline every year after that. The country will lose half of its population by the end of the century, possibly sooner. These losses will place an enormous strain on the country’s economy and social fabric. We can expect repeated waves of protests. Maybe worse.

According to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, China’s total fertility rate (the average number of children born to a woman in her lifetime) fell to 1.15 in 2021. That is one full baby short of the 2.1 children-per-woman needed to sustain a population.

Worried about the dangers of overpopulation, the Communist government imposed its Draconian one-child policy in 1979. Like so many authoritarian restrictions, the policy had unintended consequences: For decades, hundreds of millions of Chinese parents had one child. They got used to it.

Alarmed by falling fertility, the government raised the ceiling to two children in 2015, and to three children last year. But the fertility rate continued to fall.

Many countries, including Canada, have fertility rates below replacement rate. (Ours is 1.4.) We make up the shortfall through immigration – something that China, whose population is more than 92 per cent Han Chinese, discourages.

For a variety of reasons – including insufficient government supports for child care, the high cost of tutors to give a child an advantage at school and a stigma against giving birth outside marriage – China and other East Asian societies have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world.

The upshot: The World Economic Forum estimates that China’s population will start to decline in 2022.

“The world’s biggest nation is about to shrink,” the report declares.

Unless fertility rates rebound – and no country in the world has brought its fertility rate back up to replacement rate, though several have tried – the world’s most populous country, with 1.4 billion people, will lose more than half its population over the course of this century, the Shanghai Academy of Science predicts. Another study, reported last year in the South China Morning Post, warns the population could halve within the next 45 years.

This will place an intolerable strain on younger workers. Because there will be fewer people entering the workforce every year, there will be fewer consumers available to buy the things that drive an economy. And this ever-shrinking pool of workers will see more and more of their income funnelled into supports for the elderly.

“China’s low fertility and declining number of working-age population will definitely result in slower economic growth” along with “social and economic inequalities,” said Ito Peng, Canada Research Chair in Global Social Policy at University of Toronto, in an e-mail exchange.

“As the labour market becomes increasingly more precarious and divided, and as the income gap continues to rise, I think it will lead to more social and economic polarization,” she continued.

Many China observers speak of a post-Tiananmen Square social contract: After the suppressed demonstrations in 1989, the state promised prosperity if people avoided politics and left the Communist Party in charge.

But each year going forward, the state will find it harder to fulfill its side of the bargain, as fewer and fewer young people support more and more old people in a slowing economy.

Many people around the world will welcome a world in which there are half a billion fewer people contributing to global warming and otherwise taxing the resources of the Earth.

But urging Chinese workers to embrace the limits of growth won’t ease their financial burden. Many of them won’t accept such hardship quietly.

The recent protests are the most extensive in more than 30 years. But they may be just the beginning.

Source: A demographic apocalypse lies behind Chinese protests

Turning to the earlier commentary by Saunders:

The news that China will soon cease to be the world’s largest country, by population, should not have been received as an unwelcome development.

But the projection that in 2023 India will surpass China as the most populated country – a detail contained in this week’s annual United Nations world population forecast – capped a long-mounting frenzy within China’s media and political class about its faster-than-expected shift to a declining population.

Beijing, visibly alarmed by this pending milestone, is now desperately pursuing population-growth strategies that include incentives to have more children and, more ominously, restrictions on birth control and abortion rights (especially for minorities), as well as efforts to prevent well-off people from fleeing to more democratic countries.

President Xi Jinping’s about-face on population policy during the past half-dozen years might appear irrational, if you don’t understand the real source of anxiety. After all, Beijing spent decades alarmed by the spectre of overpopulation, attempting to combat it with sometimes draconian family-control measures.

But what actually caused China’s population to all but stop growing was its shift from being a poor agrarian country to an increasingly middle-class consumer economy. It is now home to about 400 million citizens whose family incomes fit securely into the global middle class (with family earnings between $19,000 and $95,000 a year).

The Chinese Communist Party, as it likes to boast, has succeeded in ending the horrific absolute poverty that was created during the postwar decades by, well, the Chinese Communist Party. As a consequence, China’s population stopped growing quickly for the same reasons that it has in two-thirds of the world’s countries: urbanization, education, greater equality for women and income security.

Why wouldn’t China content itself with being a non-impoverished country of more than a billion? After all, it is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s failure to attain this status that has given his country the population crown. Its female work force participation rate is a shameful 19 per cent (compared with 62 per cent in China) and its share of agriculture in employment has actually risen, to almost 40 per cent (while China’s has fallen below 25 per cent).

So why is Beijing so anxious? To understand that, you need to look beyond the headline national-population figures in that UN report. As economic writer Justin Fox noted in his analysis at Bloomberg, the striking change is how quickly working-age populations are falling: Within a few decades, Europe, Canada and the United States will have more working-age people than all of East Asia.

You might think this doesn’t matter any more. Aren’t we beyond the age when a country needed vast reserve armies of labour? China stopped being predominantly a low-wage export-manufacturing economy around the time of the 2008 economic crisis. There just aren’t that many very low-wage, labour-intensive industries at the heart of major economies any longer; the big growth sectors these days, especially in China, are all more skilled, more educated, service-dominated fields.

But Mr. Xi and his officials aren’t obsessed with the size of their working-age population because they want more workers; they’re obsessed because they believe an aging population, with fewer tax-contributing workers and more revenue-consuming pensioners, will make it impossible to escape the “middle-income trap.”

That theory emerged in 2006 to describe the paradox faced by most countries in Latin America and the Middle East, as well as some in Asia: The very economic growth that got them out of poverty made their wages too uncompetitive to rise beyond the slightly-above-poverty level, where they then remain stuck.

In his fascinating recent analysis of Mr. Xi’s decade-long obsession with the concept, Frank Tang of the South China Morning Post notes that the President and his cabinet have raised the spectre of middle-income traps dozens of times in major speeches and reports. Senior party officials have frequently concluded that the biggest barriers to breaking out of the trap are “the economic impact of the country’s rapidly aging population” and its falling fertility rate – possibly because they know that Asian countries that have escaped it, such as South Korea and Singapore, did so while their populations were still growing.

Major economic analyses of China’s economic prospects, however, conclude that any escape from the trap requires increases in efficiency, productivity and technological innovation – and an end to repressive policies that are quickly driving developed economies away from investing in, and trading with, China. A growing working-age population may make it cheaper and easier to do so, but isn’t really required.

Population decline will soon be the norm in all but a handful of countries. While governments around the world are racing to keep population up to avoid the higher public costs of that decline (especially in structurally underpopulated countries such as Canada), we’re all going to have to learn to make substantial progress without population growth. The soon-to-be second-biggest country ought to be leading the way.

Source: China will soon not be the world’s most populated country. That’s good – so why is Beijing fretting?

IYMI: Chinese residing in Australia reveal why they are giving up citizenship of their homeland — or why they don’t want to

Some signs of similar views among Chinese Canadians:

Xi Jinping securing his third term as general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party was the last straw for Victor Zeng.

Mr Zeng, 26, who grew up in a remote town in Xinjiang province before moving to Melbourne to marry his husband, became an Australian permanent resident about 18 months ago.

With Mr Xi cementing his position as China’s unchallenged leader at the CCP’s National Party Congress in October, he now feels war with Taiwan and a return to a state-run collective economy is imminent.

And he worries that if he goes back to China as a Chinese citizen he may be trapped there, or one day his Australian permanent residency may be unexpectedly revoked.

“I don’t know if this is my paranoia, but I feel uncertain,” he told the ABC.

“So I’m going to discuss it with my family as soon as possible and enter the process of joining Australian citizenship.”

China’s increasing authoritarianism under Mr Xi — typified by the strict COVID-zero policy — is prompting some Chinese residents in Australia to consider taking the next step to officially become Australians.

However, China does not allow dual nationality, so it means forfeiting their Chinese citizenship.

It’s a difficult decision, with practical and emotional considerations.

‘I felt that there is another way of life’

Mr Zeng said he started feeling “conditions were deteriorating” in China from around 2016, as Beijing intensified its crackdown on the Muslim Uyghur community.

In Xinjiang, where Uyghurs are about half the population, many areas were cut off from the surrounding streets by iron gates, and authorities were checking identity cards everywhere.

“After arriving in Australia, I felt that there is another way of life that is not coerced into the grand narratives, that I can say no to the propaganda and political missions,” he said.

Mr Zeng said his biggest concern was for his family members who were still living in Xinjiang.

“If I become an Australian citizen, I don’t know if there will be more restrictions on my [visitor] visa [to China] as Xinjiang is a sensitive region,” he said.

‘We have a stronger sense of urgency than before’

In the 2021-22 financial year, 5,392 people born in China became Australian citizens, according to figures from the Department of Home Affairs.

Fan Yang, a researcher at Deakin University’s Alfred Institute, said individual choices were often connected to structural change at the societal, cultural, political, national, and even international levels.

“Xi’s third term would give people the impression that China is less likely to change,” she said.

“For those who gained significant benefit from their social status in China, it is less likely that they would give up on their Chinese citizenship.

“However, for those who tend to be more politically active, they are more likely to acquire Australian citizenship for the rights of political participation.”

While some Chinese residents in Australia share Mr Zeng’s concerns, those worries may not be enough to push them to give up their Chinese citizenship.

Aaron, who asked not to use his real name, migrated to Australia with his family in 2011.

Mr Xi’s third term and the continuation of the national COVID-zero policy were two “realistic factors” that led him to “seriously consider the choice of citizenship”.

“We have a stronger sense of urgency than before,” he said.

“China’s political and democratic environments have changed dramatically. There is the possibility of going backwards … we have put our citizenship choices as a priority now.

“When the politics is stable and the economic reforms are more stable and China connects with the rest of the world well, we think our citizenship choices don’t matter that much.”

However, because he still operates businesses and has property in China, he is reluctant to follow Mr Zeng’s lead and give up his Chinese citizenship.

He said he was also worried he would lose access to a social security fund he had been putting money into for many years.

“If we join Australian citizenship, we worry that they won’t allow us to draw money from it,” he said.

‘Identity and a choice of loyalty’

Yu Tao, senior lecturer and coordinator of Chinese studies at the University of Western Australia, said for many Chinese migrants, the decision to take Australian citizenship was tied to their “identity and a choice of loyalty”.

Becoming an Australian citizen meant “cutting ties with China” symbolically, he said.

“If China continues to close its door or gets very isolated from the rest of the world [under the COVID-zero policy], then inevitably, lots of people will have to make a choice,” he said.

“If the bilateral relationship is better, some people [will] probably feel they don’t have to make a choice.”

He said in isolation Mr Xi’s third term was unlikely to be the “single and biggest reason” for their citizenship choices.

“Xi’s third term was in a way well expected [from] when he removed the term limits of the president of PRC,” he said.

Dr Tao said the long-term sociopolitical conditions under Mr Xi’s rule, such as the COVID-zero policy and Sino-Australian relations, were likely having a more profound impact.

He said practical, economic issues were also important factors.

“I suppose if, in the long run, COVID is going to touch upon some of these practical material parts of the consideration, that will also have a profound impact on how people negotiate their citizenship,” he said.

Family ties still bind for some

Riki Lee, who came to Australia as an international student and has had permanent residency status since 2014, said taking Australian citizenship was not even a consideration for him.

He said Chinese people, influenced by the Confucian culture, were deeply affected by thoughts of homesickness and nostalgia for loved ones.

“I am an only child and my parents and family are in China,” Mr Lee said.

“If unexpected things happen, such as a war or if the bilateral relationship gets worse, a Chinese passport and a PR (an Australian permanent residency) are the most convenient way to return to China.”

‘I feel like anything could happen if I’m in China’

Dr Yang said Beijing offered incentives for young people — particularly academics — to return to China and contribute to the country, such as research allowances and discounted accommodation.

However, she said she did not believe these sweeteners played into many people’s thinking.

“Those policies are like scratching an itch outside one’s boots due to the harsh academic environment and the lack of academic funding in China,” she said.

“Academics are not well paid in China and there are unwritten rules that disadvantage female academics or LGBTQIA+ academics.”

Jessica Ching, an educational psychology graduate and holder of a Hong Kong passport, grew up in mainland China.

Before the pandemic, Ms Ching spent time in China doing psychology workshops with parents and schools and had intended to live and work in China.

She is now hesitant to continue her plan.

“I think especially in the next three to five years, I don’t see myself going back to China to start a clinic or actually going into schools to speak because there’s an imminent threat that I can’t return back to Australia,” she said.

“I feel like anything could happen if I’m in China.”

Ms Ching has a utilitarian approach to her citizenship.

She said she was holding on to her Hong Kong passport, which enables visa-free travel to many more countries than a Chinese passport, for now but she was worried that in a couple of years’ time it might lose its benefits.

“I will try to keep my Hong Kong passport as long as I can, but if it gets to a point where we have to choose, I think I will choose to be an Australian citizen,” she said.

Source: Chinese residing in Australia reveal why they are giving up citizenship of their homeland — or why they don’t want to

China operating ‘police’ station out of Vancouver, civil rights group alleges

More allegations:

A Spanish civil rights group says it has uncovered two new secret “police” stations being operated in Canada, including one in Vancouver.

Safeguard Defenders has published a report revealing the existence of 48 Chinese “police service stations” being operated overseas, in addition to the 54 stations the group initially reported on in September.

The not-for-profit human rights group has documented a total of 102 stations in 53 countries.

Chinese immigration to Canada record high from 2015, as some flee zero-COVID strategy

Misleading header. More important measure is share of total new permanent residents: from 9.3 percent in 2018 to 6.4 percent in 2022 (January-September):

China’s zero-COVID lockdowns have been linked to a rare wave of protests across the country in recent weeks, and immigration industry experts say the strict pandemic rules are also fuelling a surge in requests to live in Canada.

Immigration from China hasbounced back from pandemic lulls to hit a new peak, according to Canadian government statistics, and immigration consultants report an ongoing surge of inquiries.

Vancouver immigration lawyer Ryan Rosenberg, co-founder and partner at Larlee Rosenberg, said COVID restrictions have been a new motivator for potential Chinese immigrants.

“I think that what we are seeing is that COVID lockdowns really shocked people and it caused people to think that maybe China is not a good fit for themselves and for their families.”

Rosenberg, who has been in the industry for more than 20 years, said the traditional driving forces for Chinese clients considering Canada were better education for their children, cleaner air and a healthier lifestyle.

Permanent resident admissions from China hit 9,925 in the July-to-September quarter, online statistics by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada show.

That is more than triple the pandemic low of 2,980 in the same quarter of 2020, and is also up 15 per cent from 8,690 recorded in the third quarter of 2019, before the pandemic hit.

Quarterly admissions from China are now higher than at any point since 2015, as far back as the online statistics go.A spokesperson for Immigration Canada was not available to confirm if immigration rates had been higher before 2015.

Source: Chinese immigration to Canada record high from 2015, as some flee zero-COVID strategy

Canadian officials knew for years existing laws didn’t curb foreign influence

Sigh….:

Canadian officials have known for years that the country’s existing laws did not cover foreign governments’ interference in domestic politics, documents reviewed by Global News suggest

The documents were unearthed just as Canada’s public safety minister said the government was looking at ways to beef up its defence against foreign influence in domestic affairs.

December 2020 emails at Global Affairs Canada, obtained by Global News under access to information law, state that officials were aware that some types of foreign influence in Canadian politics slipped through the cracks of existing laws. Examples in the documents include foreign investment in university research, as well as “communications activities” to promote foreign agendas.

Canadian intelligence officials and Parliament’s national security committee have cautioned for years that foreign governments – most notably China, Russia, and Iran – are actively trying to influence Canadian affairs. Some of this activity is overt, while other influence operations remain in the shadows.

The documents reviewed by Global News were part of preparations for a House of Commons speech by former Global Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on the issue of Chinese interference in Canadian politics.

The speech, drafted for a December late debate in the House of Commons at the prompting of the opposition Conservatives, originally suggested existing laws were sufficient to curb foreign influence. But an objection from a foreign affairs bureaucrat – their name was censored in the documents – cautioned that wasn’t true.

“There are several situations not covered by the Lobbying Act and the Conflict of Interest Act, such as for instance an agent undertaking communication activity or engaging in a big disbursement of activities on behalf of a foreign government,” the email reads.

“Some of these activities would be covered if happening under election periods by the Canada Elections Act, but foreign interference is not limited to those periods.”

The official gave the example of foreign powers funding university research “in order to promote certain narratives or muzzle others.” Canada’s intelligence agencies – including the Canadians Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) – have recently dramatically increased their partnerships with university research institutions, particularly during the COVID-19 crisis.

Source: Canadian officials knew for years existing laws didn’t curb foreign influence