By Jennifer 8. Lee | July 18, 2007
Professor Peter Kwong, who studies Chinese immigration and labor issues, has an amazingly detailed piece about the Chinese diaspora on the Yale Global web site.
About 180 million people around the world have moved countries since the end of the Cold War, about one-tenth of them are Chinese. The Chinese have spread to 150 countries. He basically discusses the tension between citizens of countries (who want to keep their nation borders intact) and employers (who want cheaper labor). The result is a lot of illegal immigration driven underground. Some interesting factoids with my expanded thoughts.
- In Romania, Chinese immigrants eliminated labor shortages created after some 2 million Romanians emigrated to Spain and Italy after the fall of communism. Chinese women employed in Romanian textile factories are paid US $260 per month â€“ four times more than what they would earn in China, but a sum for which Romanians are no longer willing to work.
- In late 2006 local residents in Tonga â€“ furious that the Chinese businesses recruited Chinese from China instead of employing from the local population â€“ looted and burned more than 30 Chinese-run shops.
- Chinese entrepreneurs own a quarter of the textile businesses in Prato, Italy, (Der Speigel has a fantastic article on the Chinese in Prato.) where an army of low-wage workers recruited in China works long nights, sweatshop-style, to produce low-cost â€œMade in Italyâ€ fashions for export to Eastern Europe. (Sidepoint: The Chinese restaurants in Italy are totally mediocre, as is true for most ethnic food in Italy. The local attitude is “Italian food is perfect, why would you want to eat anything else?” Plus until the 1980s, Italy exported labor, so no inflow of good ethnic food) The Prato phenom is weird. The Chinese men have adopted names like Luigi and Marco, and there is even a neighborhood called San Pechino (“St. Beijing”).
- Russiaâ€™s Far East region has about 100,000 permanent Chinese residents (about 33,000 according to a 2002 census), whose inflow has coincided with the dwindling of Russian population in the region. Many of the Chinese are there on business and legitimate visas, but there is perceived a “Chinese-ification” of the area. A belief has taken hold among many Russians (flamed by Putin) that this is a sign of a creeping Chinese annexation of Russian territory. Adding to the fears is the fact that China controlled most of that region until the 1850s. President Vladimir Putin plays on this fear when he warns that, if the government does not introduce immigration restrictions, people in Russiaâ€™s Far East could soon all speak Chinese â€“ even as his experts agree that Russia needs Chinese labor and resources to develop this region. If you have been there, you would see why the Euro-half of Russia would not want to go there, but it seems like a natural extention of China’s north actually.
Chinese Migration Goes Global (Yale Global)
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