Chinese immigrants in western countries: integration challenges
Annika Brink (101024) – July 5, 2012
Anno 2012 Europe consists of 47 independent countries that are divided by shared borders. At present day they note a feeling of nationalism to some, but, at an increasingly growing rate, also bring a sense of freedom to others. In today’s world of globalization borders are by no means a confinement, neither in leisure or business travel, nor in permanent living space. As a result many European countries share their land with foreign migrants and, mainly in cities, one can find a diverse mixture of backgrounds. Reasons for moving abroad are as varied as the people doing so. Being closer to family, self-exploration and career opportunities are among the popular drivers in this trend. Distinctions can be made between moving to a neighboring country, with a similar culture, or moving overseas. In any case, the integration process is rarely flawless, but it is clear that some migrants face more difficulties than others. Not only do cultural habits, values and beliefs vary, when they directly oppose each other this can create observable frictions. Although a rough generalization, it can be argued that moving from western Europe to North America, and the other way around, is a relatively easy process in terms of adaption. Migrants from North Africa to Europe have a harder time adjusting, but although this flow has been a point of discussion there are plentiful examples of successful integration situations among this group. A segment of Asian migrants, however, is also on the rise. While major international players, like China, Japan and India, are not necessarily behind on successful business practices, their different culture, mindset and habits make moving to an overseas country a series of challenges. Chinese migrants in particular follow a line of thought that is often different from western society when it comes to determining normal and proper behavior. The large cultural gap between the Chinese migrants and the west make it most difficult for them, as opposed to other nationalities, to successfully integrate in western countries.
History of migration to the west
The People’s Republic of China has a long history of migrants moving both intercontinentally and overseas. According to the United States Census Bureau (2010) and Statistics Canada (2006) both North American countries have a minority population of Chinese immigrants of respectively 3,8 million and 1,3 million. Many of them arrived during the 18th century, when they were hired as a labour workers, and in the 19th century, wanting to make their fortune during the Gold Rush. Men left their wives to benefit from the opportunity, hoping to get rich and return later. When the labour work was completed however, and the Chinese rendered useless, both countries drew up a similar Chinese Immigration Act. The legislation increased the amount of tax the Chinese were forced to pay upon arrival, varying over the years from $50 to $8000, in order to discourage new immigrants from entering the countries. The increased tax, however, was ineffective and in 1923 the Canadian government strictly prohibited new Chinese entrants. In effect, only 50 Chinese were allowed to come to Canada in a period of 24 years. (History, n.d.) In the United States Chinese immigrants suffered racial discrimination as well, reaching a low point when in 1924 a new law barred any further entries from all Asian countries, except the Philippines. After World War II, during which America and China became allies, conditions began to improve. Finally, special entry restriction rules were lifted in 1965 and the country let go of some of its anti-Asian prejudices. (Asian Pacific Americans, 2005) According to China expert Pierre Picquart the most popular destination within Europe among the Chinese is France, which counted 700.000 Chinese immigrants in 2010. The segment is significantly...
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