Chinese Activism of a Different Kind, Jia Gao examines the social behavior and patterns of actions of 45,000 or so Chinese students as they fought to obtain the right to stay permanently in Australia after the June 4 'Tiananmen Square' incident of 1989.
In a time of relative Internet infancy their response to the shifting stances of the Australian government saw them build networks, make use of media and develop a range of strategies. In achieving success this diverse group of students became the largest intake of onshore asylum seekers in the history of Australian immigration. Through their testimonies Jia Gao provides a fascinating addition to our knowledge of Chinese activism and to the history of Chinese migration.
In 1974 Australia officially abandoned its “White Australia” policy. Since then hundreds of thousands of Chinese have migrated to the country, first from Southeast Asian countries, then from Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan before direct immigration from China resumed in the mid-1980s. Lately, Australia has placed more emphasis on admitting skilled and business migrants, but has still maintained an annual intake of tens of thousands of Chinese, making China the third largest source of overseas-born Australians. Many believe that the Chinese have come to Australia under its normal migration program, such as the skilled, business or family programs thus overlooking the fact that a high proportion of them have obtained their residency in Australia either directly or indirectly only after having gone through Court battles. This paper seeks to examine how many of the Chinese have fought for residency in the courts, and to outline the characteristics of their experience in the post-White Australia era. It aims to provide an analysis of the complex dimensions of global migration and transnational politics where certain aspects of socio-political life and politics of the immigrants’ home country have conflicted with the immigration policies and procedures of their receiving country and gradually become part of the politics of the host country.
Australia has been one of the world’s leading providers of international education in recent decades, and international students, of whom students from China have long been the largest group, have made a significant contribution to Australia. However, while some research has examined the business aspects of this new export sector in Australia, little attention has been paid to the cultural and social lives of the students, allowing many negative comments about them to cloud our understanding of this generation of overseas Chinese students. Through an analysis of documentary sources, interviews, and the observation of Chinese students studying in Australia, this paper aims to challenge the negativity of popular “xiao liuxuesheng discourse” and explores how students have interacted with local Chinese communities, and what they have learned from such connections. Special attention will be given to two positive aspects of their activities outside university, i.e., their casual employment as a way of gaining access to the local job market and some of their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Both transnationality and its evolving nature have been the persistent themes of many studies. However, they have often been considered separately, producing insufficient evidence to explain why migrants and their communities have acted in transnational ways and how transnationality repeatedly acts on diasporic identity. This article will use the data collected in the Chinese community in Australia to explore the correlation between the transnationality of individual migrants and the evolving nature of their diasporic identities. The discussion will outline and analyze various transnational activities that have taken place in the community since the early 1990s, focusing on their form, content and trajectory, as well as their organizational structures and meaning. The article will conclude with an explanation about why community members initiate the transnational activities, what goals they have set for their transnational lives and how transnationality and their identity are correlated.