New Chinese Immigrants in New Zealand The Homeland Factor

New Chinese migrants have no strong affiliation with early migrants from Guangdong, given that the homeland connection had been cut. The presence of new Chinese migrants in New Zealand is a result of the changing social, economic and political conditions in China. People from Hong Kong and Taiwan started moving overseas in the late 1960s, but PRC migration came into emigration arena later (Skeldon 1996, 2004), in the early 1990s. The reason was mainly geopolitical (Liu and Norcliffe 1996). The Cold War led the PRC to close its borders and remain largely closed to the West until the late 1970s. Overseas travel was only possible if officially sanctioned. These controls blocked nearly all direct international emigration (Luo et al.

2003; Xiang 2003). There were no official channels to link the PRC with immigrant-receiving countries (Liu and Norcliffe 1996).

The situation started to change in the late 1970s. The PRC government allowed students and scholars to study overseas in 1978, in the expectation that they would return to China (Gittings 1989; Luo et al. 2003). Throughout the early 1990s, it initiated a series of policies aimed at relaxing border controls. In 1981 it recognized self-financed overseas study. This recognition produced a wave of student migration (Luo et al. 2003; Xiang 2003), which led to permanent settlement in the host countries. The official trigger for the increasing migration flow was the Emigration and Immigration Law of 1985. This guaranteed the right of Chinese citizens to travel outside China and allowed those who wished to leave the country for private reasons to do so (Liu and Norcliffe 1996; Skeldon 1996). The political ideology that viewed international emigration as a political “betrayal” was on its way out (Xiang 2003: 22): international emigration was accepted as a matter of individual choice. All these factors combined to increase the scale of Chinese international migration in the late 1990s.

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