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The China Challenge

 | 
Huhua Cao
, 
Vivienne Poy

The chinese diaspora and immigration in Canada

Chapter 13. Chinese in Canada and Canadians in China: The Human Platform for Relationships between China and Canada

Kenny Zhang

Texte intégral

1The movement of people across international borders has significant implications for international relations. Today the flow of people between Canada and China has become varied and complex, reflecting changing economic and social circumstances in the two economies, and the evolving relationship between Canada and China.

2China is a major source country for immigrants to Canada. The concentration of Chinese immigrants in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and other major cities has implications not only for their settlement and integration but also for the shaping of foreign policy. Diaspora politics and transnational business networks have the potential to affect relations between Canada and China in ways that are generally not well understood. Further, a sizeable community of Canadian citizens has moved to live in Greater China (comprising mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). The push and pull factors of Canadians abroad, who number around 600,000 in Asia and around 2.8 million globally (see Zhang and Woo 2006 and DeVoretz 2009), are also not well understood, but have profound implications for citizenship, consular services, public finance, health care, border security, international business, research and innovation, and more.

3Rather than following the tradition of analyzing the economic performance of Chinese immigrants in Canada, this paper is aimed to addressing how Chinese communities in Canada and Canadians in China are shaping a human platform for stronger relations between Canada and China, and the policy challenges associated with this human platform.

Redefining Canada’s Chinese Communities

4The Canadian Census of 2006 reported that more than 1.3 million people in Canada claimed that their ethnic origin was Chinese. (This figure does not include those who self-reported mixed ethnicity, having been born of interethnic marriages, nor does it include the 17,705 who self-identified as Taiwanese or the 4,275 who self-identified as Tibetan.) This made the Chinese community the eighth largest ethnic group in Canada and the largest of Asian origin (see Figure 13.1). Chinese languages, including Cantonese and Mandarin, formed the third largest mother tongue group in the country after English and French, and three percent of the population reported that their mother tongue was one of the Chinese languages.

5The Chinese community in Canada has changed, is changing, and will continue to change in many ways (see Li 2005 and 2010, Wang and Lo 2005 and Guo and DeVoretz 2006), which will ultimately have an impact on relations with China (see Woo and Wang 2009 and Zhang 2010a). There is no longer a homogenous Chinese community in Canada: the community has become very heterogeneous despite common places of birth, mother tongues, educational background, citizenship, and so on.

Figure 13.1 Canada’s Top Ten Communities by Ethnic Origin, 2006

Figure 13.1 Canada’s Top Ten Communities by Ethnic Origin, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

6People of Chinese ethnic origin are not necessarily newcomers to Canada. Some of them were born in Canada and their families may have lived in Canada for more than two generations. The Canadian-born Chinese has become a significant phenomenon within the Chinese community. The Census of 2006 reported that 27.4 percent of respondents who claimed they were ethnic Chinese had been born in Canada. The Census also reported that 14.3 percent were second-generation and 2.3 percent were third-generation or more. However, 83.4 percent were first-generation Canadians.

7According to the Census, forty-nine percent of the Chinese immigrants had arrived in Canada from the People’s Republic of China, twenty-three percent came from Hong Kong, and others came from the Caribbean and Bermuda, the Philippines, India and other countries in Asia (see Figure 13.2).

8Members of ethnic Chinese groups have achieved different skill levels in Canada’s two official languages. The Census found that nearly eighty-six percent had some knowledge of English, French or both, and only fourteen percent claimed they had no knowledge of English or French. They may also speak different dialects. Nearly one in five ethnic Chinese reported English or French as their mother tongue. Seventy-nine percent indicated that neither English nor French was their mother tongue. One third reported that they spoke English or French most often at home, with about sixty percent saying that they spoke other languages most often at home.

Figure 13.2 Origins of Chinese Immigrants Admitted to Canada, 2006

Figure 13.2 Origins of Chinese Immigrants Admitted to Canada, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

9Among those whose mother tongues were non-official languages, the number of respondents with a Chinese language as their mother tongue grew from fewer than 100,000 in 1971 to nearly 900,000 in 2001 and more than one million in 2006 (see Table 13.1). However, respondents who reported a Chinese language as their mother tongue may actually have spoken different dialects. In the Census of 2006 “Chinese languages” were broken down into seven major languages—Mandarin, Cantonese, Hakka, Taiwanese, Chaochow (Teochow), Fukien and Shanghainese—as well as a residual category, “Chinese languages not otherwise specified.”

10Chinese immigrants have been admitted to Canada under different entry categories. Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act establishes three categories of permanent residents, which correspond to the major objectives of reuniting families, contributing to economic development and protecting refugees. Around two thirds of all immigrants to Canada from mainland China are admitted as economic immigrants, including skilled workers, professionals, investors and entrepreneurs. Nearly a quarter of immigrants from mainland China gain entry as relatives of persons already living in Canada. Only a small number are admitted to Canada on humanitarian grounds. This pattern contrasts with thirty years ago, when around two thirds of immigrants from the mainland were relatives of people resident in Canada, around a quarter were in the humanitarian category, and only seven percent were economic immigrants (see Figure 13.3).

Figure 13.3 Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada by Entry Category, 1980–2008

Figure 13.3 Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada by Entry Category, 1980–2008

Sources: Guo and DeVoretz 2006; Citizenship and Immigration Canada

Table 13.1 Speakers of Non-Official Mother Tongues in Canada, 1971, 2001 and 2006

Table 13.1 Speakers of Non-Official Mother Tongues in Canada, 1971, 2001 and 2006

Sources: Statistics Canada, 2006a

11Differences in educational background and citizenship status have also contributed to the diversity of Canada’s Chinese community. The Census of 2006 reported that fifty-five percent of the ethnic Chinese population fifteen years of age and over had a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree, compared to fifty-one percent of all Canadians in the same age group; more significantly, nearly half of all Chinese, compared to only sixteen percent of all Canadians, had received post-secondary education outside Canada (see Table 13.2). In addition, seventy-seven percent of the Chinese population held Canadian citizenship only, while five percent possessed both Canadian and at least one other citizenship, and another eighteen percent had not yet become Canadian citizens (see Table 13.3).

The Wide-ranging Visibility of Chinese Canadians

12As one of the largest visible minority groups in Canada, the visibility of the Chinese community varies considerably from province to province, from city to city, and from federal election district to federal election district. In 2006 ethnic Chinese were most visible in the provinces of British Columbia (ten percent), Ontario (five percent) and Alberta (four percent), while in other parts of Canada the odds of seeing a Chinese person were close to or less than one in a hundred (see Figure 13.4). Chinese were concentrated in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and, more recently, Calgary, and their visibility varied from nearly one in five in the Census metropolitan area (CMA) of Vancouver, to one in ten in the Toronto CMA, one in twenty in the Calgary CMA and one in fifty in the Montreal CMA (see Figure 13.5).

13The ethnic Chinese vote is important in some ridings, but overall it has had little impact on the Canadian House of Commons. In 2006, the proportion of ethnic Chinese in federal election districts varied considerably, from as high as fifty percent in Richmond, British Columbia, to four percent in Calgary and just 0.2 percent in parts of Prince Edward Island (see Statistics Canada 2006b).

14The visibility of ethnic Chinese also varies in schools and job markets. Like other Canadians, Chinese Canadians typically select four areas as their major fields of study in post-secondary education: business, management and public administration; architecture, engineering and related technologies; health, parks, recreation and fitness; and social and behavioural sciences and law. However, Chinese students are more visible than average Canadians in three areas of applied science and business-related studies: mathematics, computer science and information sciences; business, management and public administration; and physical and life sciences and technologies (see Table 13.4).

Table 13.2 Population of Canada Aged 15 and Over by Educational Attainment, 2006

Table 13.2 Population of Canada Aged 15 and Over by Educational Attainment, 2006

Source: Census, Statistics Canada, 2008

Table 13.3 Population of Canada by Citizenship, 2006

Table 13.3 Population of Canada by Citizenship, 2006

Source: Census, Statistics Canada, 2008

Figure 13.4 Visibility of Chinese Canadians in Populations of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2006

Figure 13.4 Visibility of Chinese Canadians in Populations of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

Figure 13.5 Visibility of Chinese Canadians in Populations of Four Major Cities, 2006

Figure 13.5 Visibility of Chinese Canadians in Populations of Four Major Cities, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

Table 13.4 Population of Canada Aged 15 and Over by Major Field of Study, 2006

Table 13.4 Population of Canada Aged 15 and Over by Major Field of Study, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

15Chinese Canadians are more likely to work in occupations related to applied sciences and business, such as natural and applied sciences, and related occupations; processing, manufacturing and utilities; business, finance and administrative occupations; and sales and services. However, Chinese Canadians are underrepresented in certain fields, including equipment operation and related occupations, primary industry, education and government services (see Table 13.5).

16Perhaps not surprisingly, Chinese Canadians are more visible than average Canadians in accommodation and food services (restaurant jobs), professional, scientific and technical services (accountants and lawyers), finance and insurance (jobs in banking), manufacturing (general labour) and wholesale trade (import and export). However, Chinese are less likely than average Canadians to work in construction, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting; health care and social assistance; or public administration (see Table 13.6).

17The image of Chinese Canadians today is vastly different than it was for much of the past 200 years, when Chinese immigrants were stereotyped as railway coolies, laundrymen or waiters. Hollywood exaggerated the stereotype with movies about opium dens, “celestials” in pigtails with knives hidden up their silk sleeves, or slant-eyed beauties with bound feet and ancient love potions (Lee 1984, p. 178). What the Chinese Canadian community looks like today is as diversified as Canadian society is as a whole.

Emerging Canadians in China

18Canadians historically have travelled widely, and today an estimated 2.8 million Canadians live and work abroad (see DeVoretz 2009). There have always been large numbers of Canadians living outside the country for extended periods, especially but not only in the United States. One of the prominent Canadian pioneers in China, for example, was Dr. Norman Bethune (1890– 1939), whose spirit of service, courage and innovation continues to inspire innovative partnerships between Canada and China today.

19The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada has classified Canadians living in China into the following groups (see Guo 2009 and Zhang 2010b): (1) owners or employees of Canadian or multinational businesses; (2) Chinese Canadian returnees, including members of the first, second and later generations; (3) teachers of English as a second language (ESL); and (4) students and others.

Table 13.5 Visibility of Chinese Canadians by Occupation, 2006

Table 13.5 Visibility of Chinese Canadians by Occupation, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

Table 13.6 Visibility of Chinese Canadians by Industry, 2006

Table 13.6 Visibility of Chinese Canadians by Industry, 2006

Source: Statistics Canada, 2008

20First, as China increasingly becomes a global economic powerhouse and the biggest recipient of foreign direct investment, more than ninety percent of the top 500 multinationals have set up in China, and thirty percent of those have established regional headquarters there (see China Radio International 2008). Canadian businesses are among those active in China, and there are increasing numbers of native-born and naturalized Canadian executives, engineers and other professionals and specialists working in China.

21Second, in 2008 a study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that, depending on the country of destination and the time frame, twenty percent to fifty percent of immigrants return home or move to a third country within five years of their arrival (see Migration Policy Institute 2008). A recent report from Statistics Canada demonstrated that a significant number of male immigrants to Canada of working age, especially skilled workers and entrepreneurs, are highly mobile, suggesting that a substantial part of migration to Canada is temporary. The estimated out-migration rate twenty years after arrival is around thirty-five percent among young working-age male immigrants. About six out of ten of those who leave do so within the first year of arrival, which suggests that many immigrants make their decisions within a relatively short period after arriving in Canada. Controlling for other characteristics, out-migration rates are higher among immigrants from source countries such as the United States and Hong Kong (see Aydemir and Robinson 2006). Despite these general conclusions, the return of Chinese Canadians to China remains underdocumented. What we do know is that many are not actually returning to China forever, but are what we may call “transnational,” often moving back and forth between two countries at different periods in their lives.

22Transnational parenting is not uncommon among young Chinese Canadian families. High child care costs, the lack of family support in Canada and a volatile job market have led some families to send their children back to China, so that grandparents or other relatives can look after them. A study in 2002 of Chinese immigrants in five prenatal programmes discovered that seventy percent of the female respondents said they planned to send their children back to China to be raised by relatives (see Ng 2007). Transnational schooling is also quite common. Many Chinese Canadian families who want their children to be bilingual and well-schooled in mathematics send their children back to China for certain years of their education.

23Transnational entrepreneurship also plays a key role in connecting Canada and China. A report commissioned by the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada in 2008 revealed that foreign-educated Chinese transnational entrepreneurs make up a distinct segment of the immigrant community (see Lin, Guan, and Nicholson 2008). Key characteristics distinguish them from classic middlemen traders, returnee entrepreneurs, or those who have returned to their home countries permanently. Instead, the characteristics of Canada-based Chinese transnational entrepreneurs include a greater likelihood of multinational experience, a higher level of establishment within their professions, a deeper degree of entrenchment in Canada, and a stronger desire to engage Canada in cross-border entrepreneurial endeavours. The same report also identified a variety of mechanisms used by transnational entrepreneurs to link Canada and China through innovation.

24Transnational retirement allows senior Chinese Canadians to enjoy the pleasure of two homes. Like many Canadian “snowbirds” migrating into the United States, these senior citizens move across the Pacific as the season changes.

25Third, Canadian ESL teachers are another significant group of Canadians in China. They are in high demand, not only because of the importance of learning English as a second language, but also because some Chinese students seem to prefer “Canadian” English. One contemporary Canadian, Mark Rowswell, known in China as Dashan, has even been described as “the most famous foreigner in China,” where he has worked as a performer, television host and cultural ambassador for more twenty years (see Rowswell 2010). Although he is relatively unknown in the West, it is hard to find anyone in China who does not know of Dashan, and his success story has also helped to raise the profile of Canadian English in China.

26The growing body of Canadians, whether Canadian-born or naturalized, living and working in mainland China and Hong Kong suggests that there is an emerging Canadian diaspora. What policy areas does the Canadian government need to develop to recognize this diaspora, maintain and enhance Canada’s international ties, and maximize the benefits of those ties to Canada? The size and importance of Canada’s diaspora in China suggests that Canada should revisit its foreign policy toward China.

Understanding China as a Source and a Destination

27When Stephen Harper’s Conservative government came into office in 2006 many people in Canada expected a new China policy that would take Sino-Canadian relations to a new level, although some China watchers in Canada suggested that Ottawa actually does not have a China policy (see, for example, Ottawa Citizen 2008). So far Canada has emphasized four foreign policy goals or “pillars” in relations with China (see Government of Canada 2009): (1) to work with Beijing towards China’s greater adherence to internationally accepted standards on human rights and the rule of law; (2) to ensure that China’s economic rise benefits Canada by increasing two-way trade and investment in goods and services; (3) to work with China to advance shared interests in areas such as health, the environment and regional peace and security; and (4) to position Canada as a preferred destination for Chinese immigrants, students and visitors. This four-pillar China policy appropriately reflects a multifaceted relationship between the two countries and recognizes the importance of cooperation with China. However, it overlooks some of the complex trends that have emerged in the flow of people between the two countries. As a result Canada’s China policy faces a number of challenges.

28The first of these challenges is understanding China as both a source and a destination. It is easy for Canadians to see that China is a major source country for immigrants, students, and visitors to Canada. While Canada is still in a position to promote itself as a preferred destination, the magnitude of China as a source country also needs to be better understood. China has become the leading source of newcomers to Canada since 1998, particularly for economic migrants, such as skilled workers and investors. China has become the second largest source country for annual arrivals of international students in Canada since 2000, and is currently the largest source of total student stock studying in Canada. China is currently the ninth major source country for overnight travellers to Canada, with the highest average spending per trip in Canada among all international travellers (see Citizenship and Immigration Canada 2009).

29In addition to the importance of China as a source of inflows to Canada, it is equally important to realize that China is becoming an economic magnet for human capital. Although China is not a country of immigration, it is increasingly being seen as one of the few economies in the world with brighter job prospects. China has issued increasing numbers of work permits to foreign workers. In Shanghai alone the number of work permits issued has increased thirteen times over the past thirteen years, and Canada is the seventh largest source country for foreign workers in Shanghai (see LaowaiZaiZhongguo 2007 and Oriental Morning Post 2008).

30Tourism and education are also increasingly important transnational activities. According to Statistics Canada (2005), China was the tenth most visited international destination for Canadians. By 2008, China had surpassed Canada as the sixth major destination for international students at the post-secondary level, and it is likely to attract more Canadian students in the future (see Institute of International Education 2010).

31Looking ahead, it is unrealistic to predict that the immigration flow from China to Canada will remain the same as it has been over the past ten to fifteen years. This should not be regarded as making these flows less important for Canada, however, even if China is no longer the top source country of immigration. In fact, many Chinese may still consider emigrating to Canada for lifestyle reasons rather than purely economic reasons (see Anderssen 2009). Canada has to be prepared to leverage this new trend for Canada’s economic and social benefit, rather than just for the benefit of its labour market. With the conclusion of an agreement on “approved destination status,” more Chinese visitors are likely to come to Canada as tourists.

32Further, Canada is not only competing for international students with the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia, but also has to compete with emerging education markets, including China itself. While China retains its importance as one of the major source countries for many types of human flows to Canada, perhaps more significant is that Beijing is increasingly seen as a destination for international human flows, including those from Canada. With efforts by Beijing to attract global talent and to promote Chinese culture and language globally, interest in learning Chinese, visiting China and working and living there is on the rise among Canadians with or without Chinese heritage.

33Only if more Canadians understand the importance of China as both a source and a destination of flows of people will policy be changed to reflect the importance of these two-way flows. Canada needs to position itself as a preferred destination for Chinese immigrants, students, and visitors. It is equally if not more important that Canada also prepares more Canadians to “go East” to study and work. A broadened China policy could ensure that China’s economic rise benefits Canada by increasing two-way trade and investment in goods and services, as well as by increasing two-way flows of people.

Understanding Chinese Communities in Canada

34The second major policy challenge is to understand the importance of Chinese communities in Canada, which has been underestimated for a long time. As a country of immigrants, Canada has been accustomed to looking at immigrants almost exclusively from an economic perspective. Chinese immigrants, like all immigrants, have traditionally been seen primarily as suppliers of needed manpower. All too often, when people try to measure the contribution of Chinese communities to Canada they refer to their higher unemployment numbers and lower earnings due to insufficient English-language skills or the fact that their foreign credentials are not recognized here. They also tend to focus on the concentration of Chinese communities in Vancouver or Toronto, or the fact that they may not integrate fully into Canadian society.

35In 2008, when Beijing was gearing up for the 29th Summer Olympic Games, the first Olympic Games ever to be held in China, the loyalty of Chinese communities to Canada was brought into question by some commentators, for example by Joanne Lee-Young (2008) writing in the Vancouver Sun: “Members of Vancouver’s large overseas Chinese community will face a complex set of dual loyalties during the Beijing Summer Games, rooted in a simple quandary: whether to cheer for Chinese or Canadian athletes, or both.” Questioning the loyalty of Chinese Canadians during a major international sporting event was unjustified, for a number of reasons. First, as the Census of 2006 showed, about 27.4 percent of all ethnic Chinese in Canada were actually born in Canada and 16.6 percent were of the second or earlier generations. Their education and experience, and the degree to which they are Canadian, is likely no different than any other citizens born in Canada. Second, seventy-seven percent of all ethnic Chinese in Canada as of 2006 held Canadian citizenship only. In other words, nearly half of all ethnic Chinese in Canada were naturalized citizens, with Canadian identity and values created and shaped during the process of immigration and naturalization. For these individuals Canadian citizenship is a formal recognition that Canada has accepted them as Canadians. Naturalized Chinese Canadians should be treated equally with other naturalized citizens. Third, more than half of all Chinese immigrants in Canada come from countries other than the People’s Republic. In other words, nearly half of all Chinese immigrants in Canada are likely to have nothing to do with mainland China. Finally, cheering for Chinese or Canadian athletes has nothing to do with one’s political loyalty. When a Chinese team led by a Canadian coach, Dan Raphael, defeated its opponents, including a Canadian team, and claimed the gold at the World’s Women’s Curling Championships in 2009, should Canadians have questioned Raphael’s loyalty to Canada? When Raphael brought this Chinese team to the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010, should this still have been an issue?

36Statistical evidence provides more meaningful measures with which to judge the loyalty of Chinese communities to Canada (see Lindsay 2007). According to the Ethnic Diversity Survey conducted by Statistics Canada, in partnership with the Department of Canadian Heritage, in 2002 seventy-six percent of Canadians of Chinese origin felt a strong sense of belonging to Canada, and fifty-eight percent said that at the same time they had a strong sense of belonging to their ethnic or cultural group. The survey also showed that Canadians of Chinese origin are active in Canadian society. For example, sixty-four percent of those who were eligible to vote reported doing so in the federal general election in 2000, while sixty percent said that they had voted in the most recent provincial election. In addition, about thirty-five percent reported that they had participated in an organization such as a sports team or a community association in the twelve months preceding the taking of the survey. However, 34 percent of Canadians of Chinese origin reported that they had experienced discrimination or unfair treatment based on their ethnicity, race, religion, language or accent in the past five years or since their arrival in Canada. Of those who had experienced discrimination, sixty-three percent said that they felt it was based on their race or skin colour, while forty-two percent said that the discrimination had taken place at work or when applying for a job or promotion.

37Victor Odlum (1880–1971), who spent most of his life in Vancouver and, in the course of a long career in public service, was Canada’s Ambassador to China from 1942 to 1946, once looked forward to the day when Chinese Canadians would “not be distinguished from other Canadians” (Lee 1984, p. 169). That wish remains as relevant today as it was during Odlum’s lifetime.

Understanding Canadian Communities in China

38The remaining policy challenge is to understand Canadian communities in China, which have been growing for many reasons. Although the exact number remains unknown, the best estimate puts the number of Canadians in mainland China and Hong Kong at between 250,000 and 300,000, and thus significantly larger than the population of a medium-sized Canadian city such as Saskatoon or Windsor, Ontario (see Zhang 2009 and Guo 2009). Canada cannot afford to ignore the fact that so many Canadians live in China. How Canada can turn its diaspora in China into an advantage is at the core of this huge challenge.

39First, how should Canadians living in China or other parts of the world be recognized as part of Canada, rather than as foreigners who happen to hold Canadian passports? Canadians have to change their mindset to accept the fact that the flow of people moves in two directions. Canada must learn to respect the fact that Canadians, native-born or naturalized, are more internationally mobile than ever before and that many wish to live abroad. When they settle down in Beijing or in another city, Canada must learn to treat them the same as any other Canadians in terms of their rights and obligations.

40Second, how should Canada encourage the political and civic participation of its citizens abroad? For one thing, Ottawa should consider changing the current rules that do not allow overseas citizens to vote in Canadian elections after they have lived abroad for five years. Canada should also consider creating political mechanisms that would represent overseas citizens at the federal and provincial levels. This would significantly encourage political and civic participation by all Canadians, including citizens residing abroad. The views of Canadian communities in China should also be taken into account in Sino-Canadian policy-making.

41Third, how can Canada better communicate with its overseas communities? Canada must develop a consultation and communication process with Canadians living overseas, to keep them involved and informed of any changes in citizenship laws or rules regulating their movement across borders, and listen to their needs, including their need for consular protection and other services. This would also ensure that any risks associated with Canadians abroad are properly assessed and addressed.

42Fourth, how should Canada better leverage its expatriate communities in China to enhance opportunities for trade, investment and business between the two countries? Traditionally, diaspora communities have contributed significantly to their home countries through remittances (India, Mexico and the Philippines), trade and investment (China and South Korea), and technology transfers (Taiwan, South Korea and China). This is a new task for Canadian policy-makers and members of the business community.

43Finally, in pursuing such policy agendas and addressing the new challenges, a major effort must be made to bring together interests from across a range of government departments and organizations, including those at the provincial level.

Conclusion

44The turn of the 21st century witnessed growing flows of people from China to Canada. Greater freedom of movement in and out of China, and the growing affluence of Chinese citizens, are combining to bring about rapid changes in the pattern of these flows, broadening them to include tourists, students and professional workers. The flows of people between the two countries have also become two-way flows. The same economic forces that have transformed China’s place in global production, trade and finance have also affected human resources. China is no longer an exporter of labour, but has become a magnet attracting foreign talent. The popular perception that immigrants to Canada who return to their native countries have “failed” or are “opportunistic” is outdated.

45The Chinese community in Canada has changed, is changing and will continue to change in many aspects that will ultimately have profound impacts on relations between Canada and China. Chinese Canadians are as diversified within their groups as Canadian society is overall, though Chinese Canadians remain more visible in certain locations, schools, occupations and industries. This poses new challenges for Canada and all Canadians as they come to an understanding of Chinese Canadians, not as a distinctive or homogeneous group, but as an integral part of Canada’s multicultural society. Nor can Canada afford to ignore the growing body of Canadians, native-born or naturalized, who choose to live in China, an emerging global powerhouse. More fundamentally, Canadian communities in China can play an important role and potentially be of great benefit to Canada.

46People flows between Canada and China will increasingly be characterized by two-way movements and by transnational citizens with personal, business and emotional attachments on both sides of the Pacific. While there are many challenges that arise from the growth of such diaspora-like populations at home and abroad, the phenomenon of international labour mobility, especially of the most talented (and, sometimes, the most notorious), is here to stay. The challenge for policy-makers is to take a holistic and multi-generational view of transnational citizens, rather than to treat international mobility as a problem.

47Of all the reasons for Canada to have a robust and forward-looking China policy, people-to-people linkage is arguably the most fundamental. Currently the flow of people between Canada and China is unmatched by that between China and any other member state of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Seen in this light, the human capital nexus is a unique focal point for relations between Ottawa and Beijing. While other countries are lining up to sign trade and investment deals with China, Canada can go a step further and investigate the possibility of an agreement in the arena based on this human platform. Such an agreement could encompass issues such as citizenship, visas, education and training, professional accreditation, social security, taxation and even extradition. Given the large number of Canadians and Chinese with deep connections across the Pacific, it is a certainty that these bilateral issues will become bigger policy challenges for both Beijing and Ottawa in the years ahead. There is an opportunity now to address these issues in a comprehensive fashion and to turn potential problems into competitive advantages for the bilateral relationship.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 13.1 Canada’s Top Ten Communities by Ethnic Origin, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k
Titre Figure 13.2 Origins of Chinese Immigrants Admitted to Canada, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 64k
Titre Figure 13.3 Immigrants from Mainland China to Canada by Entry Category, 1980–2008
Légende Sources: Guo and DeVoretz 2006; Citizenship and Immigration Canada
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 60k
Titre Table 13.1 Speakers of Non-Official Mother Tongues in Canada, 1971, 2001 and 2006
Légende Sources: Statistics Canada, 2006a
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 268k
Titre Table 13.2 Population of Canada Aged 15 and Over by Educational Attainment, 2006
Légende Source: Census, Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 200k
Titre Table 13.3 Population of Canada by Citizenship, 2006
Légende Source: Census, Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 128k
Titre Figure 13.4 Visibility of Chinese Canadians in Populations of Canada, Provinces and Territories, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 68k
Titre Figure 13.5 Visibility of Chinese Canadians in Populations of Four Major Cities, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 48k
Titre Table 13.4 Population of Canada Aged 15 and Over by Major Field of Study, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 244k
Titre Table 13.5 Visibility of Chinese Canadians by Occupation, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 256k
Titre Table 13.6 Visibility of Chinese Canadians by Industry, 2006
Légende Source: Statistics Canada, 2008
URL http://books.openedition.org/uop/docannexe/image/902/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 423k

Auteur

Senior Project Manager at the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, which was created by an Act of Parliament in 1984, as an independent, not-for-profit think-tank on Canada’s relations with Asia.
Mr. Zhang joined the Foundation in January 2003 and specializes in China and immigration topics. His main research interests include Canada-China trade and investment relations, economics of immigration of Canada with focus on the Canadians abroad. Mr. Zhang received his BA and MA degrees in economics from Fudan University, China and the Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands, respectively. Prior to joining the Foundation, he worked as associate research professor at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and senior researcher at the Centre of Excellence on Immigration Studies at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver.
Mr. Zhang is on the Board of Directors of Canada China Business Council (BC Chapter) and the Board of Directors of Metropolis British Columbia. He has been a member of Vancouver Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration since 2005. He is also member on the Joint Federal Provincial Immigration Advisory Council and Immigrant Employment Council of British Columbia

© Les Presses de l’Université d’Ottawa | University of Ottawa Press, 2011

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