One thing cool about Chinese immigrants is that there’s a bunch of them (or should I say us?) almost anywhere you go in the world. We have this inside joke about UBC (University of Billion Chinese). We don’t even see much English signage in Richmond. My North Californian friends tell me Cupterino has a nickname “Little Taipei”. The South Californians claim Monterey Park, a town just below Pasadena, is like our Richmond, except the food is far less authentic.
I often wonder if the Caucasians are the real visible minorities, at least in my world. This is why it was suck a shock when I read about the increasing Asian population in Australia.
The shock came over me when I read the news the other day about increasing Asian immigrant population in Australia, which is, speaking from my painful personal experience, the most unlikey country to accept Asian immigrants.
My family and I travelled to Australia when I was 14 years old. During the whole time I was on the plane, I imagined was it would be like to hold a Koala Bear in my arm. I bet I even dreamed about it. I was a kid. But even as a kid, I understood perfectly well the meaning of racism, especially when it was, in slang, “in my face”.
It was at night, around early evening, my family and I stepped out of the hotel to buy some essentials at the convenicen store across from our hotel. There was this white man, not too far from us, getting closer. He spit at us and murmured some English that I couldn’t understand at the time. I was only 14. I didn’t come to Canada to learn English until I was 16. Now looking back, I am guessing it was something along the lines of “Get your sorry ass back to China”. You know how I know? I get that here in Vancouver all the time.
So why the sudden change?
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of Chinese immigrants in Australia between 1996 to 2006 increased by 96,000.
The author of Big White Lie: Chinese Australians in White Australia, John Fitzgerald, writes of Chinese diaspora in Western countries. According to a book review published in Australian Historical Studies, his work “refutes the old and insidious claim that the exclusion of Chinese from Australian immigration and naturalisation was necessitated by incompatible cultural differences: the claim that the Chinese, allegedly tradition-bound, hierarchical, and slavish, did not and could not fit with the distinctively Australian values.”
However, little did the Australians know that Chinese Australians in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, as Fitzgerald argues, were modern, adaptive, egalitarian, democratic, anti-monarchical, and cosmopolitan.
At any rate, I am very pleased to see Australian government welcoming Chinese immigrants in the once-upon-a-time-all-white nation. It is time that they realize the globalization state which we are in at this time, and hence the all-white policy dismantles itself.
Perhaps it’s time to re-visit Australia. Same spot, different times.