The Worldwide Effort to Bar Chinese Immigration

Review of The Gold Rushes and Global Politics:

In his classic treatise on American pauperdom, “How the Other Half Lives” (1890), Jacob A. Riis, a Danish carpenter turned journalist and photographer, opines, “The Chinese are in no sense a desirable element of the population,” and “they serve no useful purpose here.” Ascribing his own failure in penetrating the inner soul of New York’s Chinatown to proverbial Oriental inscrutability, Riis asserts that each Chinese in America, unlike European immigrants, is “a homeless stranger among us.”

In hindsight, these racist statements from a progressive social reformer may sound shocking, but as Mae Ngai shows in her meticulously researched book, “The Chinese Question: The Gold Rushes and Global Politics,” views like Riis’s actually represented the prevailing sentiment toward Chinese, not just in the United States but throughout the Anglophone world in the 19th century. Tracking the migration of Chinese to California, Australia and South Africa, Ngai, a professor of history at Columbia University, locates the beginnings of Chinese communities in those far-flung gold-producing regions, where they faced marginalization, violence and exclusion from self-described “white men’s countries.”

The so-called Chinese Question (at the time thorny social issues were called questions: the Negro Question, the Jewish Question, the Woman Question and so on) boiled down to this: Are the Chinese a racial threat to white, Anglo-American countries, and should Chinese be barred from them?

Excavating rich deposits of the past, Ngai has certainly made striking discoveries. She ties the Chinese Question to a pivotal period in the 19th century that saw the ascendence of British and American financial power spurred by gold production, colonial dispossession and capitalist exploitation. Born out of an alchemy of race and money, the history of the Chinese communities in the West, Ngai cogently argues, were not extraneous to the emergent global capitalist economy but an integral part of it.

However, making the Chinese Question central to global politics and economics is not the most noteworthy accomplishment of Ngai’s important book. From John Bigler riding the issue of Chinese exclusion successfully to the first California governor’s office in 1852 to the role that the Chinese Question played in the landmark 1906 victory by the Liberal Party in Britain, not to mention modern politicians who routinely bash China as a vote-getting ploy, Ngai’s narrative recounts events that sound all too familiar today. The Chinese became mere pawns in a cynical political game.

Ngai not only shows that anticoolieism was foundational to Western identities of nation and empire, she also demonstrates the many ways that the Chinese communities were themselves agents of change, not slavish coolies or passive victims of abuse and discrimination. Facing violence, harassment and institutionalized inequality, they looked within their own communities — forming huiguans (associations) and tongs (secret societies) when denied justice in a courtroom, building networks to the homeland when marginalized by mainstream society, seeking alternative means of influencing local politics when denied citizenship and the right to vote. Woven into these poignant and stirring stories of communal building are Ngai’s colorful profiles of little-known individuals like Yuan Sheng, Lowe Kong Meng and Xie Zixiu — “representative men” who rose to wealth and power from their humble origins in the mining camps. She describes as well accused murderers and petty criminals who tried to defend themselves in pidgin English but did not stand “a Chinaman’s chance.”

To be sure, the narrative pace is somewhat uneven and Ngai is not always successful in keeping a balance between her dry data and her storytelling. Still, her book is a deep historical study, and a timely re-examination of the persistent Chinese Question in America and elsewhere.


Why do so many Chinese international students in Canada end up back home?

Interesting survey from one school cohort:

The 2017 class at Rotman Commerce arrived at the University of Toronto just as Xi Jinping became China’s President. As they studied, Mr. Xi consolidated power, all while pushing his country toward greater influence overseas. In western countries, views on China have darkened. Only 14 per cent of Canadians view it favourably, a record low, according to a survey conducted by the Angus Reid Institute earlier this year.

But this opinion isn’t shared by China’s best and brightest.

Young Chinese people make up the majority of international students who attend Rotman Commerce. On graduation, they possess a potent set of attributes for any employer: a coveted diploma, language skills and the kind of ambition that brought them to Canada in the first place.

But many have no intention of staying. For them, China is not just home, but a place whose embrace of modernity has created comforts not available in North America – bullet trains, lively cities with a cornucopia of eating choices – while its capital and consumer markets offer opportunity that Canada cannot match.

Chinese students like to joke about Canada as haoshan, haoshui, hao wuliao: nice mountains, nice water, very boring. China is not boring and its air and water are quickly improving, along with its salaries.

In other words, even if China grows less appealing to those outside its borders, it is becoming more desirable to many of its own. John Shi, one of the Rotman Commerce 2017 graduates, recently travelled for the first time to Suzhou. It’s been long considered a secondary centre, but “when I see the way that city has developed – oh my god, I must say it’s really better than Toronto,” Mr. Shi says.

In the U.S., the National Science Foundation tracks the percentage of doctorate recipients who intend to stay. Things have changed there, too. In 2001, 91.4 per cent of PhDs from China intended to remain in the U.S. By 2019, the number had fallen to 79.3 per cent. The remainder expected to return to China.

The rise in the overall numbers of overseas Chinese students has been vertiginous: in 1990, only 2,950 young Chinese went abroad to any country for studies; by 2004, fewer than 115,000. In 2019, more than 140,000 had study permits in Canada alone.

“A lot of these people go out on their own money, on family money — and they’re trying to get an education that will advantage them back in China,” said David Zweig, a professor emeritus of social science at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who is writing a book China’s Search For Talent.

Where those students go has significance for Canada and its policy makers. “You can always raise the question: is it to Canada’s advantage to train these people, give them jobs and then they take their skills back to China?” Mr. Zweig said. He sees no reason for serious concern.

But the question he poses also has ramifications for Canadian employers. If those students leave, “in some sense, that’s on us,” said Alexandra MacKay, interim vice dean for undergraduate and specialized programs at Rotman. If students see better opportunities in China, Canadian companies may need to think whether there is a need “to revisit your recruiting model to make this an attractive proposition.”

But the destination students choose also has political significance for China. Unlike many of their fellow citizens, they have the ability to choose. Graduating from a Canadian university places them on a quick track to permanent residency and citizenship.

Where they decide to go, then, is a useful barometer of how the current generation views China.

So how does the Xi Jinping cohort see China, and the world? To find out, The Globe and Mail surveyed 35 students from the Rotman Commerce class of 2017 who were born in China or grew up there. The respondents make up roughly one-third of the Chinese students at Rotman that year. Their answers, and some of their stories, are below.


John Shi grew up in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei province, determined to get into the best schools. “I dreamed of going to the top finance university in China. But it’s so hard,” he said. He points to inequalities in the administration of the gaokao, the feared university placement exam. Students can score up to 750 points on the exam, but those marks are not all academic. Authorities can award bonus points to certain categories of people, and the administration of those unearned points meant that Mr. Shi would need to outperform a student in Beijing by 100 points in order to gain entry to a similar university. “The competition is really not that equal,” he says. Canada offered a more equitable academic landscape. So Mr. Shi decided to skip the gaokao altogether. He came to Canada for grade 11.


Since the day she graduated, Joanna Li has thought about returning to China. Her family is there. She feels a stronger “bond with China, my motherland” than with Canada. She still eats Chinese food almost every day. But she has hesitated. How could she compete with people back home? With its huge population, “there are many more talents in China. You have people who work as hard as you do, are as smart as you and have more local experience than you – and they have more connections,” she said. Finding a job in China that can match her Canadian salary “is way harder than I expected.” But she has found life in Canada disappointing – when she had a back issue, the wait to get medical attention was long. “I was kind of disappointed by that,” she says. “Because in China, I can easily see a doctor that is one of the best in Shanghai.” She has felt lonely, too, a feeling exacerbated by travel restrictions that have kept her from seeing family during the pandemic. “I’m just looking for a change,” she says. She has joined groups of like-minded students in Canada and the U.S., all looking to move back to China, where life is familiar and work more thrilling. “I can see my life in Canada for the next 10 or 12 years. But at this point, I’m just more excited about a different life in China.”


For Simon Liang, the numbers tell the story: China’s population is nearly 40 times that of Canada. Its economy is more than eight times larger. “The market in China is just way greater than in Canada. That’s why I’ve come back to China,” says Mr. Liang, a graduate of the 2016 Rotman Commerce class who is the founder of Queen’s Education Group, an online high school with about 300 full-time students. After graduation, he got a job in Canada long enough to secure a permanent resident card, quitting once that was in hand. He remembers looking up at the Canadian corporate ladder and “I could see exactly where I would land in 20 years – and that is not exciting at all.” Though starting wages tend to be better in Canada, China offers fabulous wealth to those who succeed. More importantly, in Canada, “I can’t prove my value,” Mr. Liang says. In his home country, with its scale and global importance, “I feel like I can have more influence for this world.” China, he says, feels like a place of “unlimited opportunities.”


There was a time when Chinese students would joke about studying abroad as an exercise in dujin — gilding themselves in the golden aura of international credentials. But with 1.6 million Chinese students currently enrolled overseas, a mere diploma is no longer enough. Crystal Lou quickly realized that if she wanted an edge in China, she needed to build meaningful work experience in Canada. Doing so was easy: international student university graduates are eligible for three-year work permits. That quick path to a job was one of the main reasons she came to Canada. She does still contemplate returning to China, where her parents live. China “is growing a lot faster than here. So you probably have more opportunity to go up there versus here,” she says. She won’t apply for Canadian citizenship “until I fully decide I’m staying here.” But as someone who works in private equity, she has also found virtue in Canadian stability. “Here you can value a company based on fundamentals,” she said. “That doesn’t really work in China,” where markets are more prone to influence from politics or investor mania. “For the job that I’m doing, I think Canada fits me better,” she says.

Deciding where to live is “more of a choice between what you really value,” says Emily Wang. In China, things are more convenient: public transit is cheap and near-universal, while powerful apps and mobile payments turn smartphones into remote controls for life. But the work environment can be tough. Some companies, particularly in the technology sector, demand brutally long hours. There is “more competition and maybe more pressure mentally,” Ms. Wang says. Contrast that with Canada, where “I might have more work-life balance, which is something I value.” That’s one of the reasons she stayed after graduation. In Canada, too, she senses greater freedom for the types of open political discussion that can be dangerous in China. But when it comes to personal liberty, “in daily life I don’t feel like there is that much of a difference. I felt pretty free when I was in China, and also here in Canada.” In fact, the epidemic has made China look attractive. While rolling lockdowns continued for more than a year in Ontario, people in China “are all in restaurants and travelling around.”

In the physical sense, Katrina Jiang has lived in Canada for nearly 12 years. But in many ways, she has never left China. She does not pay much attention to news or entertainment in Canada; she doesn’t so much as have a Netflix account. Instead, “100 per cent” of her media intake comes from China: celebrities on Weibo, shows on iQiyi, short videos on Douyin. “I know I have been here for a long time. I came when I was 14,” she says. “But I feel like I’m still connected to China, to Chinese culture and Chinese entertainment.” She feels the disconnect most keenly at work, where she has little to add to conversations about local events or the Blue Jays. She worries that distance from coworkers will limit her career advancement, and is mulling a return home. “I see a kind of ceiling here,”, she says. “In Canada, your soft skills can’t really compete with native speakers. You have to know their culture, you have to know their entertainment, and you have to chat to make connections. It’s hard for us if we don’t grow up in that environment.”


One in three Chinese immigrants fail to acquire Australian citizenship amid ‘unwarranted delays’

Some interesting data. Have not looked at recent Canadian citizenship pass rates to know if there is a similar pattern here.

But we do know that Chinese immigrants have a relatively lower naturalization rate than many other groups: 77.2 percent compared to the overall naturalization rate of for those who immigrated to Canada 2006-10 (Census 2016):

One in three migrants from mainland China has failed to acquire Australian citizenship since 2012 amid the growing political debate over Chinese influence.

The figure, the highest of any nation in the top 10 sources of new Australian citizens, follows a collapse in the number of Chinese residents approved last financial year, when only 11 per cent of these applicants were granted citizenship as Home Affairs struggled to keep up with demand.

The department pulled that figure back up this year, with 42 per cent of Chinese applications between 2017 and 2019 approved overall.

But figures, given in response to questions on notice in Parliament show that, since 2012, just 64 per cent of applicants from China were approved, compared with 69 per cent from the Philippines, 77 per cent from Britain and India, and 90 per cent from South Africa. The figures exclude migrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Up to 390 Chinese migrants have had their citizenship put on hold for three years, while 9600 have been waiting for two years despite already being permanent residents for several years. At the same time, 2350 Afghani migrants have been waiting since 2015 to have their citizenship applications processed.

A Home Affairs spokesperson said the department did not treat citizenship applications from people from certain backgrounds more favourably than others.

The spokesperson said processing times could vary due to individual circumstances, including the time it takes to receive additional character and national security information from external agencies and the time it takes for the applicant to attend a citizenship ceremony or receive a citizenship certificate.

The Morrison government has blamed the delays on an increase in the complexity of applications. An Auditor-General’s report dismissed this in February, finding that “overall, the relative complexity of the applications lodged has decreased” and the backlog was due to tighter security screenings.

The Home Affairs spokesperson said the department had implemented a number of strategies to improve processing times and reduce the on-hand caseload of applications, without “compromising on national security” or “program integrity”.

The figures come amid a decline in Chinese applications overall. The absolute number of applications for Australian citizenship by residents of Chinese heritage has halved since 2017, when there were 14,707 applicants, compared with 7999 last year.

Political tension between the Chinese and Australian governments has grown since 2017, when former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull angered the Chinese government by introducing foreign interference laws. Mr Turnbull last year banned Chinese telco giant Huawei from building Australia’s 5G network due to national security concerns.

Scott Morrison, who is yet to visit Beijing since becoming prime minister in August last year, has become more aggressive in his differences with China on global trade policy since visiting US President Donald Trump in September. Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has also sharpened her criticism of the deteriorating situation in Hong Kong.

The chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia, Mary Patetsos, said the federation hoped people from all backgrounds and nationalities would receive equal treatment in relation to the processing of their citizenship applications.

“I think this is what an overwhelming majority of Australians would expect as citizens of a country that strives to be fair, equitable and democratic,” she said.

“We must also remember that unwarranted delays in the processing of citizenship applications cause significant hardship for families.”

Labor MP Julian Hill, who asked for the figures from Home Affairs and has launched a parliamentary inquiry into the citizenship audit, said the delays had caused widespread anxiety among migrants in his Melbourne electorate of Bruce.

He said some applicants were unable to travel where they needed to without an Australian passport, or apply for jobs in the public service or defence force.

“Then of course there is the big issue of family reunions. People are in my office weekly because they are desperate,” he said.

“Until they are citizens, their family reunion applications will get no priority. That means they have not been able to see their wife, husband or kids for years. The sheer inhumanity of that is astounding.”

Source: One in three Chinese immigrants fail to acquire Australian citizenship amid ‘unwarranted delays’

Extreme-right misinformation is flooding Chinese media in Canada and observers say there’s virtually nothing stopping it


Some of the posts suggest teaching sexual and gender identity in schools could cause an AIDS outbreak. Others warn Mexicans are streaming across the border to sell drugs or that hatred against Muslims is only natural. The articles are called misinformation by some and flat out hate speech by others.

They are but a sampling of the far-right rhetoric on Chinese-language websites and social media platforms like WeChat, often described as a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Observers warn that there’s almost nothing challenging a torrent of anti-refugee, anti-LGBT and anti “white liberal” literature spiking online.

“When this privileged group settled down in Canada, they will have an easy life without evening finding a job,” reads one article touching on Muslim refugees when discussing Chinese voters. It was written by contributor Feng Si Hai on Chinese-language news publication in March 2019.

“What’s more, some of them could make trouble, break the law and even harm a child. It is natural that hatred toward them will arise. The religious conflicts will make the situation worse. How could our society be peaceful?!” reads the article.

Such sentiments have also popped up in Chinese political organizations and churches, according to community members. They worry that barriers to truthful information combined with conservative politics are leading to the exploitation of Chinese people by far-right elements and could hamper the ability of Chinese people in Canada to make informed decisions.

There are votes to be gained as Canadian political parties reach out to immigrants, and Chinese voters are one of the largest pools.

Chinese people represent about 20 per cent of minorities in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, with hundreds of thousands living in Vancouver and Toronto alone. In those cities, some ridings are more than 50 per cent Chinese.

They are increasingly being courted by far right content or outright misinformation created by writers who often use pen names.

For example, Feng, who has also written that a child being proud of having two mothers is a “scorn on human ethics,” is not the writer’s real name. In an interview with Star Vancouver, Lahoo editor-in-chief Lao Mai said Feng is a real person writing under a pen name for protection.

But prior to Lao’s explanation, other staff at the publication said Feng was actually a floating pen name used by a number of people. In the interview Lao insisted that isn’t the case and underlined he and his staff don’t necessarily agree with the opinions written.

“We have that freedom of speech,” Lao said through an interpreter.

In Feng’s 2019 column about voting, it’s alleged Justin Trudeau ignored the case of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen, whose body was found in a park in Burnaby in July 2017. In September 2018, a Syrian refugee, Ibrahim Ali, was charged in her death.

In January 2018 an 11-year-old girl in Toronto told police she had been attacked by an Asian man with scissors who cut off her hijab. Justin Trudeau tweeted his condemnation of the attack. Police investigated the alleged incident and determined that the events did not happen. The family of the girl who made the false claims later apologized.

Feng’s column accuses Trudeau of caring more about the Muslim girl in Toronto than he did about the Shen murder because Muslims vote more than Chinese people.

Lao said the article is being misinterpreted and it’s really just meant to encourage Chinese people to vote. He said that when columns by Feng are submitted, they believe what he writes and don’t feel the need to fact check them.

Lahoo also publishes straight news pieces and Feng is just one columnist, but the internet is flooded with Chinese-language misinformation from a number of sources.

Back in May, Chauncey Jung, a contributor for website SupChina, who once interned for the Liberal Party and has written about the issue, said there has been a steady increase of false news or misinformation in Toronto since the story about the Muslim girl who claimed to be have been attacked broke in 2018.

Chinese articles on WeChat raged against the girl and against Trudeau for tweeting his response to the incident before police said they had determined that the attack did not happen. But the incident caused a spike in “pure hate speech” written in Chinese, Jung said.

The tension was made worse later in the year when Ali was arrested and charged with Shen’s murder. His court appearance in Vancouver brought anti-refugee protests by demonstrators carrying Chinese signs.

Jung said it’s not just Muslims who are targeted. He said he’s seen stories on WeChat alleging hundreds of Mexican drug dealers are flooding into Canada since Ottawa stopped requiring visas for Mexicans and others claiming that Toronto police want to get children hooked on drugs.

“It’s going to be challenging for people who don’t have the access to the actual information,” he said. “If you don’t speak English, that’s going to be a barrier, if you don’t like to read things in English, that’s another barrier there.”

Kevin Huang of Vancouver’s Hua Foundation, an organization aimed at bridging cultural gaps between Chinese and other communities, said not only is there an increasing amount of Chinese-language misinformation targeting immigrants and other minorities, but nothing is in place to counter it.

“People are usually just overwhelmed by the fact this exists and not at a stage where we’re about to design and or think about how to counter,” he says.

Much of it stems from a history of Chinese voters being “ruled by fear” Huang said, adding that politicians and the media often use scare tactics to dissuade Chinese voters from supporting their opponents rather than presenting a positive alternative.

The 2015 election was full of it, he said.

“The literature was fear mongering attacks on Trudeau, prostitution, needles,” Huang said. “Is our community in general really only about just being fearful of these things?”

Huang says one possible solution would be for governments to distribute information in more languages than just English and French. If more government materials were written in languages like Chinese, those who speak it as a first language would at least have access to basic, credible information, he said.

“No one’s engaging them except for ‘do your taxes and fill out these forms for your benefits,’ ” Huang said.

One man in Surrey, B.C., isn’t waiting for the government to pitch in.

“Fake news brings people to the wrong direction; prejudice and hate,” says Jacky Jiao after tidying up a picnic table in a Surrey park before sitting down to talk, condemning whoever left it a mess. “Few people think, they just follow others.”

When he’s not scrubbing picnic tables, the real estate agent and immigration consultant is cleaning up the internet. Jiao says he spends about 15 hours a week on WeChat motoring through Chinese language media and writing articles debunking false information.

WeChat has become the premier source of information for Chinese people around the world and Jiao says that often misinformation from other countries, like the United States and United Kingdom, is spun to fit the Canadian narrative.

Much of what appears on WeChat is published elsewhere and simply shared there, similar to Twitter. Often the articles contain false figures such as the number of refugees allowed into Canada each year, he says.

Jiao says his attempts to combat the misinformation or far-right rhetoric online have led to a lot of pushback.

“In WeChat groups, I get a lot of attacks,” he says. “A lot of people are Trump fans. They always think right is right. They can’t distinguish the right and the extreme right.”

Jiao says the courting of the far right via Chinese social media happens at a time when similar efforts are being made through churches in Canada. Chinese immigrants hold Christianity in high regard, he says, reasoning that many of the world’s developed countries have Christianity as a dominant religion.

As a result, many are curious about the religion and become involved in churches, and some of those churches have strong views against homosexuality or taxes, says Jiao.

Combined with the misinformation and right wing columns on WeChat, he said it makes some in the Chinese community ripe fruit for the far right to pluck.

But even if WeChat didn’t exist, the far-right politics are hosted by other websites and the messaging would still seep through.

In 2018, a consortium of Chinese activists in Vancouver and Toronto formed the Let’s Vote Association, a group with a website in Chinese and English encouraging people to vote for right-wing candidates in federal, provincial and municipal elections.

The organization was in the news when some municipal candidates decried the endorsements in B.C. last year. It hasn’t made any endorsements on its website this year.

One of its founding directors is Yali Trost, sister in law of Brad Trost, who ran unsuccessfully for leader of the Conservative Party in 2017 and lost a nomination challenge for the riding he held in Saskatchewan last year. He is not running this year and told Star Vancouver he has no knowledge of or participation in his sister in law’s activities. Most of the association’s directors have donated to Trost’s political campaigns in the past, according to Elections Canada information.

The association’s main page features a link to a petition opposing the Vancouver suburb of Richmond’s plan to install a rainbow crosswalk, an initiative undertaken by many cities to support the LGBTQ community. Other articles praise Donald Trump, champion religious freedom and question the legitimacy of refugees.

Their electoral recommendations in the past have included evangelical Christian radio show host and People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, as well as Heather Leung, who was dropped as a candidate by the Conservatives earlier this month when a 2011 video of her making statements against the LGBTQ community resurfaced.

In the video, Leung says homosexuals are “perverted” and trying to “recruit” children because they cannot procreate.

In early September, according to her website, Leung went door knocking in her riding with Lindsay Shepherd, a controversial figure and free speech advocate criticized in the past for arranging an appearance by Faith Goldy, the white nationalist who ran for mayor of Toronto, at Laurier University.

Leung is still running as an independent and her campaign manager is Travis Trost, Yali Trost’s husband and Brad Trost’s brother.

Leung did not respond to Star Vancouver’s attempts to contact her, including a letter outlining what the interview would be about delivered to her home, outside of the Burnaby North-Seymour riding.

Star Vancouver requested the financial details of the Let’s Vote Association in accordance with the B.C. Societies Act.

As per the official process, Star Vancouver filed a request to the B.C. corporate registry asking that they compel the Let’s Vote Association to release the information. In a letter to Star Vancouver through the registry, the society said it would not release the information because it had not yet completed its accounting.

“Many immigrants to Canada and especially Chinese Canadians are reluctant to involve themselves in the political process in Canada because of bad experiences they have had overseas,” reads the letter, which goes on to accuse Star Vancouver of making them fearful.

But last October Yali Trost, a Vancouver resident according to Let’s Vote’s society information, involved herself in the political process physically when she got into an altercation with Burnaby School Board trustee candidate Larry Hayes after an all-candidates debate in a school gymnasium. According to Vancouver radio station News1130, Trost said she was confronting Hayes for calling another candidate an “idiot.”

A video posted to Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson’s Facebook page shows Hayes trying to push past Trost as she stands in front of him while holding a baby when he tries to leave the venue before she shoves him back. The police were called. The debate itself was shut down due to yelling from attendees protesting the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program in public schools.

Attempts to contact Yali Trost through the Let’s Vote Association were unsuccessful.

As Canada barrels toward its election Monday the affect the push by the far right could have on the Chinese community isn’t yet known, but observers are concerned what a sustained campaign could mean down the road.

Huang said politicians don’t make enough of an effort to conduct meaningful engagement with Canada’s Chinese communities. It seems politicians are only interested in stopping by for Lunar New Year banquets, he said, leaving a void that is filled by the far right.

The responsibility rests not just with Chinese people to speak up, Huang said, but with politicians who need to take the trend of misinformation seriously.

“Don’t treat our community as if we’re just being ruled by fear,” he said. “Lead us. Show us that we want to vote for you because you believe in the same values I do.”

Source: Extreme-right misinformation is flooding Chinese media in Canada and observers say there’s virtually nothing stopping it

Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

More in-depth look at Chinese-language media election and related coverage:

The conflict between Hong Kong and China. The pros and cons of immigration and refugees. Beliefs on abortion and same-sex issues. The tension between paying taxes and benefiting from social services.

Specialists who monitor Canada’s roughly 290 Chinese-language newspapers, websites, radio stations and TV channels say the political coverage not only echoes the mainstream media, it also reveals the distinct concerns of people with origins in East Asia.

Immigration and refugee issues garner more attention in the Chinese-language media than they do among the general Canadian public, say professional observers.

And even though Chinese-Canadians with roots in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China show a complex range of political opinions, Andrew Griffith, a former senior director in Ottawa’s immigration department, has concluded: “There is more of a conservative trend among Chinese-Canadians than, for example, South Asians.”

Like other Canadians, the 1.3 million people of Chinese origin switch party allegiances according to broader political patterns, said Griffith, who works with, a website highlighting political coverage in the country’s ethnic media. But their votes could make a crucial difference in dozens of urban swing ridings with large immigrant and visible-minority populations.

Roughly three out of four Chinese-Canadians live in either Greater Toronto, where they make up 11 per cent of voters, or Metro Vancouver, where they account for 20 per cent of voters. In the Vancouver suburb of Richmond, which has two federal ridings, 54 per cent of the population is ethnic Chinese.

Andres Malchaski, president of MIREMS International, which monitors the ethnic-language media and helped create, says that, while a large portion of Canadians tell pollsters the environment is their top election issue, that issue is far outweighed in the Chinese-language media by debates over immigration and refugees.

Chinese-Canadian media outlets, including their discussion forums, contain frequent criticism of Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for bringing in more than 60,000 Syrian refugees since 2015, said Machalski, who has analyzed Canada’s ethnic media for three decades.

Media outlets that target Canadians from China are often wary of refugees from Muslim countries, Machalski said, an attitude that reflects the way China’s authoritarian leaders have restricted the religious freedom of millions of Uighur Muslims.

“The feelings expressed by some of the calls and comments on phone-in shows and in newspaper columns (in Canada) certainly support the idea there will be segments of Chinese voters that might even go so far as to support the People’s Party of Canada,” which is calling for reducing immigration and refugee levels, Machalski said.

Still, Machalski emphasized that the views expressed in the Chinese-language outlets in Canada offer a “kaleidoscope” of perspectives, which often reflect whether their respective audiences are connected to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hanoi or Beijing.

That is especially so in regards to the recent anti-Beijing protests in the financial centre of Hong Kong.

More than 300,000 people living in Hong Kong hold Canadian passports — and Oct. 21 marks the first Canadian election in which they can cast a ballot, says a article by Blythe Irwin.

The Chinese media is picking up on everything Canadian politicians are saying about the special administrative region of China. Ethnic-Chinese media commentators, she says, are both approving and sceptical of the way Trudeau says he is “extremely concerned” about Hong Kong, while Conservative leader Andrew Scheer went further by declaring in a tweet: “We are all Hong Kongers.”

Fenella Sung, a former Chinese-language radio show host, said that Chinese-media perspectives about the conflict largely reflect whether the Canadian-based outlets are aimed at audiences rooted in Hong Kong or China.

It’s not surprising that readers of media directed at the large mainland-Chinese population in Canada “would think the Hong Kong issue is China’s internal affair and that it would not be appropriate for Canadian politicians to comment,” said Sung, who is a member of Canadian Friends of Hong Kong.

Long-time immigrants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of East Asia, Sung said, tend to have political concerns that are in line with Canadians at large, such as jobs, housing and protecting the environment.

“But newer and younger immigrants, mostly from mainland China, are very consistent and focussed on economic growth, expansion of trade, less government bureaucracy, and lower taxation. They don’t like social spending.”

Prior to the B.C. election in 2016, some opinion polls suggested that, even while the province’s more than 500,000 ethnic Chinese voters held diverse views, they generally leaned to the centre-right B.C. Liberals, and had almost no interest in the Greens.

In an article on politics and Canada’s ethnic media published Wednesday in Policy Options magazine, Griffith said Liberal and Conservative party approaches to same-sex marriage and abortion have been widely commented upon, suggesting so-called “family values” are important to many recent immigrants and people of colour.

“While the Liberals and Conservatives get widespread coverage of their electoral promises and commitments, the NDP and Green Party are under-covered,” Griffith added, after reviewing 1,200 recent articles in the ethnic media.

“In contrast, the People’s Party of Canada, given its focus on restricting immigration and its initial exclusion from the leaders’ debate, received more than twice as much substantive coverage as the NDP and Greens combined.”

Chinese-language and other ethnic media outlets in Canada don’t necessarily reinforce cultural silos, Griffith says. But it’s clear they also offer a special window into political discussions of particular concern to certain ethnic groups.

Source: Douglas Todd: How the election is playing out in local Chinese-language media

The first Chinese-Australian female MP hopes to unite divided community after historic win

One wonders what took them so long (the first Chinese Canadian MP was Douglas Jung, a Conservative MP elected in the Diefenbaker landslide of 1957):

Liberal candidate Gladys Liu has been officially announced as the winner in the Victorian seat of Chisholm — making her the first ever Chinese-Australian female member of Federal Parliament’s Lower House.

Key points:

  • Roughly 20 per cent of the population in the seat of Chisholm are of Chinese ancestry
  • Ms Liu beat out Labor’s candidate with a margin of 1,100 votes
  • If a Labor challenge is successful, it could trigger a by-election in Chisholm

Speaking for the first time after being declared the winner, Ms Liu said she was thrilled to have won what was one of the election’s tightest contests.

Ms Liu beat Labor’s candidate and fellow Chinese-Australian Jennifer Yang by just 1,100 votes to gain the crucial multicultural seat.

She praised her team for their deep commitment to her campaign and said she received a great welcome when she arrived in Canberra to take up her historic new role.

“It is a great addition to a great team, because not only am I female but I can speak … two other languages, and also I am coming from a different ethnic background and that will enrich not only the country but also the parliamentary setting,” she said.

The challenges of a divided community

Ms Liu was born in Hong Kong, but the former speech pathologist has put down roots in Chisholm since moving to Australia three decades ago.

Roughly 20 per cent of the population in the seat of Chisholm are of Chinese ancestry, but the community is heavily divided along politcal lines.

Ms Liu won the seat with just 50.58 per cent of the vote over Ms Yang who gained 49.42 per cent for Labor.

Ms Liu seemed unfazed by the narrow margin, saying “no one party can have 100 per cent support”, and the split vote among the Chinese community was “consistent with the voting trend in the country”.

“In terms of the political awareness … a lot of Chinese have shown interest in different political parties, their values, their policies,” she said. “I think this a great achievement and improvement from the whole community.”

Ms Liu said her goal was to represent everyone in the community “whether they voted for me or not”.

“This is one of my jobs — to make sure they are well represented and their voices are heard in Canberra,” she said.

Accusations of dirty tactics

But Ms Liu’s win has been called into question by Labor party officials.

Last month, she had to fend off accusations of using dirty tactics during the campaign after the ABC revealed she had posted a how-to-vote card on Chinese social media platform WeChat.

Ms Liu at first denied authorising the material, but the ABC recorded information showing she posted the how-to-vote card under her own WeChat account at the end of April.

“I feel there were a lot of nitty gritty, some minor things or even non issues and some lies as well.”

The message told voters to “copy exactly as it is to avoid an informal vote”, suggesting any other preferencing would result in an invalid ballot.

The Labor Party is set to challenge Ms Liu’s win,alleging such material was designed to confuse voters into voting for the Liberals.

If a Labor challenge was successful, it could trigger a by-election in Chisholm.

But Ms Liu said she only posted material that was “authorised by the Liberal Party headquarters” and she had “no control” over what her supporters posted.

When challenged over the how-to-vote card, Ms Liu responded, “What’s wrong with that? All parties do that”.

As for her political future, Ms Liu said her “priority is to serve Chisholm and represent them”.

When asked if she will be running for minister she replied, “Let me go to Federal Parliament for the first sitting and see how it goes.”

first Chinese-Australian female MP hopes to unite divided community after historic win ABC News Liberal candidate Gladys Liu has today been officially announced as the winner in the Victorian seat of Chisolm — making her the first ever Chinese-Australian female member of Federal Parliament’s Lower House.

Source: The first Chinese-Australian female MP hopes to unite divided community after historic win

Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Speculation, of course, but my guess:

A business college at the University of Illinois has taken out an insurance policy against the potential catastrophic loss of revenue from high-fee-paying students from China.

Educators and social-media commentators are expressing fears the river of money flowing from Chinese students into Canada, the U.S., Britain and Australia will dry up because of a brewing trade war and the arrest in Vancouver of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.

The government of China has said it has more than 600,000 students studying abroad, the vast majority of them in English-language countries. Highly desired Canada has more than 186,000 of them, according to China’s Toronto consulate (the federal government’s figure is slightly lower). That means China’s young people make up roughly one in three of all 500,000 international students in Canada.

Despite China’s ambassador to Canada last week hammering English-speaking countries as “arrogant” and rife with “white supremacy” for their defence of Meng’s arrest, there is no sign that China’s leaders are ready to follow the lead of Saudi Arabia’s rulers, who reacted to Canada’s human rights comments last year by calling back most of the Saudi students in Canada.

“I don’t think the Chinese will be as petulant as the Saudis were, or as unsophisticated, although they may make more subtle changes over time,” Andrew Griffith, a migration researcher and former senior director in Canada’s Immigration Department, said.

Canada could even attract more Chinese students in the future in part because the number entering the U.S. appears to be flattening out, possibly because of President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about China and immigrants. That’s why Illinois business college dean Jeffrey Brown, realizing his school had become highly dependent on Chinese students’ money, took out an insurance policy with Lloyd’s of London.

Canada hosts eight times more Chinese students per capita than the U.S., suggesting this country’s educational institutions are more dependent on, if not addicted to, their fees than U.S. colleges. Some higher-education researchers are calling the phenomenon “academic capitalism.”

It’s the expanding trend in English-language countries to make up for steadily eroding taxpayer funding of schools, colleges and universities by capitalizing on the full fees paid by students from mostly well-off families from around the world, with China providing by far the biggest group.

Some Canadian educators, and researchers like Mengwei Su and Laura Harrison of Ohio University, say the intense concentration of Chinese students in Western schools brings with it drawbacks, however, mainly for the students themselves.

Even though Western universities welcome Chinese students as “a particularly lucrative market,” Su and Harrison found many of the young Chinese struggle with English and integrating into Western culture — partly because they are ending up in classrooms and living situations dominated by other students from China.

“Seventy per cent of the students in my class are from China,” one Chinese student told the Ohio researchers, describing the sense of social segregation. “The class is not much different from that in our country,” said another Chinese pupil. One young woman from China opted to study in the Netherlands rather than North America, saying, “I want to avoid too many Chinese students.”

Against a backdrop in which the taxpayer-funded proportion of the operating budgets of B.C.’s public universities has drastically declined in recent decades, more than half the foreign undergraduate students at Simon Fraser University, more than 2,700, now come from China.

The University of B.C. has 5,000 students from China, almost one third of its international student population. Scores of public high schools, colleges and two-room private language institutes also take in hefty fees from the roughly 50,000 Chinese students in B.C., mostly Metro Vancouver.

The dark blue at the top of this chart indicates more than half the undergraduate international students at Simon Fraser University since 2011 have come from China. (Source: SFU)

The federal Liberal government is busily wooing more Chinese students, however. Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen is following the enthusiastic lead of former minister John McCallum and saying “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Hussen maintains international students in Canada, whose numbers have been recently jumping by roughly one quarter annually, funnel $11.6 billion a year into Canada’s economy, adding they also enhance “cultural exchange.” To make it easier for more Chinese students to jet across the Pacific Ocean to Canada, the Liberal government recently opened seven new visa centres in China. Hussen acknowledged such students can contribute to the housing and rental squeeze in cities such as Toronto and Metro Vancouver, particularly since many offshore parents buy Canadian homes for their offspring.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen says “We’ll do whatever we can” to bring in an increasing number of students from China.

Western “higher education institutions are slowly evolving into a corporate-like enterprise that pursues monetary gains, at times eclipsing their educational mission,” write Su and Harrison, of Ohio University, echoing growing sentiment among scholars of higher education.

The Ohio researchers found a key financial problem is that some overseas recruiting “agents” are exploiting international students, with more than half the Chinese students they surveyed hiring these advisers to navigate their complicated route to the West.

The trouble with agents dominating the field of global education, according to Su and Harrison, is many are providing misinformation to students, steering them to inappropriate schools and not warning them about how difficult it will likely be to learn workable English. Many students get stuck in never-ending English-remediation classes.

To root out abuse and increase overseas families’ trust in such agents, Australia, New Zealand, Britain and Ireland have developed a code to regulate them, say Thompson Rivers University researchers Victoria Handford and Halying Li.

But Canada has not signed on to the protocol, which is designed to ensure the agents behave more ethically.

Meanwhile, Canada’s recruiting continues apace.

Source: Douglas Todd: Chinese students’ river of cash unlikely to dry up

Ethnic Chinese in Malaysia are celebrating China’s rise – but as multicultural Malaysians, not Chinese


In 2015, China’s then ambassador to Malaysia, Huang Huikang, visited Kuala Lumpur Chinatown just ahead of a planned pro-Malay rally. Huang’s walkabout, during which he spoke out against racism and extremism, defused a potential ethnic showdown. But it earned the ambassador a summoning to the foreign ministry to explain his perceived meddling in Malaysia’s domestic affairs.

The Kuala Lumpur incident is a portent of things to come as China steps up efforts to connect as well as protect overseas Chinese communities. During the 19th Communist Party congress, last year, President Xi Jinping reaffirmed China’s strategic policy of co-opting the Chinese diaspora into Beijing’s grand push to internationalise the “Chinese dream”.

Xi’s overture is hitting some wrong notes. In the United States, lawmakers have complained that mainland Chinese students there have come under pressure from Beijing after criticising China. In Australia, Canberra is proposing countermeasures for alleged interference by the Communist Party in the country’s internal affairs and in the Chinese Australian communities.

The Chinese diaspora is a global phenomenon unlike others because immigrants from China have, over the centuries, planted roots in almost every continent. More crucially, the crisis-stricken homeland they left behind generations ago is today a rejuvenated, self-confident modern nation-state. And this re-emerging superpower is eager to re-enter the world stage and shape the existing international order.

For this reason, Beijing’s harnessing of the overseas Chinese population could have far-reaching global ramifications.

In Malaysia, the complexion of the Chinese diaspora bears certain distinct features. Numbering about 7 million, Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese community is one of the largest concentrations of overseas Chinese in any country. And nearing 25 per cent of the population, they exert considerable economic sway and, to a lesser extent, political leverage.

Perhaps what is unique is the pristine preservation of the Chinese heritage, a legacy of Malaysia’s acclaimed multiculturalism. One example is the national vernacular school system, where ethnic minorities can learn and sustain their mother tongues. This has enabled the Chinese communities to keep alive their culture and beliefs in a manner unmatched anywhere else – even to the envy of mainland Chinese whose traditional way of life was decimated during the Cultural Revolution.

Yet Malaysia’s celebrated diversity is a double-edged sword, as it has slowed assimilation. The country is trapped in a race paradigm where racial dynamics dictate public policy and colour national discourse. Intended to protect the rights of the Malay majority, the bumiputera policies continue to draw a wedge between the races.

Discontented, some have chosen to leave, precipitating a brain drain, chiefly to Australia and neighbouring Singapore. In fact, Malaysians are the biggest group of overseas Chinese to re-migrate.

Fortunately, these setbacks do not round up the Malaysia story. There are alternative narratives, where the aspired “1Malaysia” is a lived reality. Malaysians do come together as one, especially when engaging the world at large. Successes by international sports stars, such as diver Pandelela Rinong, badminton player Lee Chong Wei and squash player Nicol David, have fired up patriotic displays of emotions that transcend race.

One way to explain this seeming anomaly is that most Malaysians at the personal level do experience genuine friendship across racial lines. Interpersonal contacts such as these have slowly but steadily fostered mutual respect and goodwill.

There are alternative narratives, where the aspired ‘1Malaysia’ is a lived reality

Regrettably, this grass-roots bonding is often undermined and overshadowed by racialised national politics. Even so, under certain favourable conditions, these contained but enduring feelings of kinship do break to the surface, showcasing to the world the true 1Malaysia spirit.

It is within this broader context that we see the Chinese in Malaysia wrestle with their own conflicted devotion to past memories and present realities.

Firstly, like Irish Australians’ love for all things Ireland, Chinese Malaysians, too, follow with keen interest China-related developments. The miraculous turnaround of the People’s Republic in recent decades, for example, has thrilled overseas Chinese.

At the same time, Chinese in Malaysia are unreservedly Malaysian, just as the Irish in Australia are true-blue Aussies. And there is no better demonstration of this than the Chinese Malaysians’ impassioned support for Lee Chong Wei, even when he faces off against his arch-rival, Lin Dan of China.

Powered by its ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative”, China’s inroads into Malaysia are expanding by the day. And this is inducing some shocks to the country’s rich yet fragile social landscape.

Indeed, when ambassador Huang stepped into the Chinatown fray, he also waded into a long-standing controversy surrounding insinuations of Chinese Malaysians’ divided loyalty. The ambassador’s intervention was manipulated by some as proof of China acting as a protector of the Chinese minority in Malaysia, casting further aspersions on these Malaysians’ national allegiance.

To Chinese Malaysians, this was a most unfair and unjustified accusation.

True, the Chinese still embody the civilisational inheritance of their ancestral land. But these multigenerational Malaysians have also been indelibly transformed by the land of their birth. Like descendants of immigrants everywhere, they are turning into cultural hybrids, metamorphosing from a mono-cultural Chinese towards a more pronounced multicultural Malaysian. To use an agricultural metaphor, the born-and-bred-in-Malaysia ethnic Chinese are now the fruit of the land – sprouting and flourishing with textures and flavours unique to the Malaysian ecology. With time, these Chinese have become truly Malaysian, exuding the cultural DNA of their new homeland.

Thus, as China rises, like most overseas Chinese communities, ethnic Chinese in Malaysia are revelling in spontaneous flushes of cultural pride. But they do so not as Chinese, but as Malaysians. Or, to put it in the phraseology familiar to Beijing: as proud “Malaysians with Chinese characteristics”.

Source: Ethnic Chinese in Malaysia are celebrating China’s rise – but as multicultural Malaysians, not Chinese

Asian immigrants altering Aussie suburbs – The Straits Times

Similar to Canadian cities like Richmond and Markham (Chinese Canadians), Surrey and Brampton (South Asian and Sikh Canadians):

Groups of men sit in front of a branch of the Bank of China on a weekday afternoon and huddle around fast-moving games of xiangqi, or Chinese chess.

Nearby, a series of Chinese noodle houses and barbecue restaurants adjoin a large Asian supermarket selling pastes, teas and oils sourced from across the region. Most customers as well as pedestrians making their way to the nearby train station speak Mandarin or Cantonese.

But this bustling shopping strip is not in Beijing or Hong Kong, but the Australian suburb of Hurstville, which is on the cusp of setting a historic first for Australia. The suburb, just 16km from the centre of Sydney, is set to become the first in Australia where the majority of the population are of Chinese origin.

According to the 2016 census, 49.4 per cent of Hurstville’s 30,000-odd residents are of Chinese ancestry, compared with just 5 per cent who have Australian ancestry.

Forty-one per cent of the population were born in mainland China or Hong Kong, while 28 per cent were born in Australia, 7 per cent in Nepal and 2 per cent in Indonesia.

It is a remarkable change from just 15 years ago, when 22.7 per cent of Hurstville’s population were born in China or Hong Kong, about half the percentage born in Australia.

Standing beside one of the xiangqi games in progress, Mr Danny Cheng, a 66-year-old originally from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, said he was attracted to Hurstville by its easy access to the airport and the city centre.

Recent waves of immigration have led to remarkable changes in Australia’s cultural mix, last year’s national census showed.

Based on the survey, 26 per cent of Australians were born overseas, a proportion higher than other English-speaking nations such as the United States (14 per cent), Britain (13 per cent), and New Zealand (23 per cent).

Indian and Chinese immigrants are rapidly changing the country’s cultural mix. Of 183,608 people offered permanent immigrant visas last year, 21 per cent were from India, 15 per cent were from China, and 9 per cent were from Britain, based on federal government data.

Chinese immigrants tend to be drawn to Sydney, Australia’s largest city. The census found that the proportion of Chinese-born immigrants has overtaken those born in England and accounts for almost 5 per cent of the city’s population of five million.

Indians, meanwhile, are the largest foreign-born group in the second-largest city of Melbourne, comprising almost 4 per cent of the city’s 4.5 million people.

Professor Jock Collins, from the University of Technology Sydney, said successive Australian governments have helped to prevent social problems with an immigration programme that is non-discriminatory and “casts the net to all corners of the world”.

In addition, local, state and federal governments have made a strong effort to ensure basic services such as health, education and welfare are easily accessible to people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

A short drive away from Hurstville, in the suburb of Harris Park, a similar story is unfolding but with a different ethnic group: Of the area’s 6,000-odd residents, 46 per cent were born in India.

The evolving characters of Hurstville and Harris Park tell the story of Australia’s changing ethnic mix, as China and India start to overtake Britain as the largest source of immigrants Down Under.

An expert on Australian immigration, Professor Jock Collins, from the University of Technology Sydney, said that Hurstville’s majority Chinese-ancestry population is a first for the nation but he pointed out that the area still has a diverse cultural mix.

He said Australia has not tended to have “ghettoes” or highly concentrated immigrant areas, unlike British suburbs with high proportions of Pakistani, Indian or Caribbean residents, or Miami, in the United States, with its concentrations of Cuban-origin residents.

“In Australia, unlike many other countries, we don’t have ghettoes where only one group dominates,” he told The Straits Times.

“Even places such as Hurstville and Harris Park are cosmopolitan rather than mono-ethnic communities. So I don’t think it is a thing to worry about – there has not been conflict or issues in those areas of high concentration.”

Analysts say that so-called “chain migration” – in which immigrants from one location follow one another to a new community – remains common for the immigrant waves from countries such as China and India, as it has for previous waves from places such as Greece and Italy. But, over time, immigrants in Australia tend to disperse across the city.

via Asian immigrants altering Aussie suburbs, Australia/NZ News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Visible minority communities and the Election

From New Canadian Media, some good articles on different communities and the 2015 election.

Pulse: Arab Media Tack Conservative outlines support for the Government’s position among some Arab communities (primarily Syrian and Iraqi Canadian).

Chinese Canadians Step Up to Fill Representation Gap as there have been fewer MPs than their population warrants. A Willingness to Elect People Not Born in Canada explores the relative success of Canadian Sikhs, reflecting both absolute numbers and their relative concentration in a number of ridings in the Lower Mainland and the GTA.

Lastly, Where are the (Ethnic) Women? analyses the number of visible minority women candidates, showing that between 16 and 21 percent (depending on the party) of all women candidates are visible minorities, slightly greater than the number women visible minorities who are Canadian citizens (and thus who can vote).