Attitudes To Emigration

Emigration is the act of leaving one’s native country or region to settle in another.”

 In the past few decades, China has witnessed the largest human migration in history. Every year millions of workers leave their homes in rural villages in search of urban employment in the big cities. China’s “floating population” leave behind their friends and family with the hope of a better life, for both themselves and the family back home whom they can send money back to.

 The migrants often find that their new life in the city is not what they hoped for. The hours are long, the pay poor and the jobs boring. They persevere because they often have people back home relying on them and because there would be great shame in returning home a failure.

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 On the opposite end of the scale though there is a growing trend in emigration amongst the wealthiest of Chinese. The Huran Research Institute has published statistics in 2011 revealing that 14% of China’s wealthy have emigrated out of the country or are applying to do so, and a further 46% are considering it. These “wealthy” are defined by having more than 10 million Yuan (nearly £1 million). Many go to Hong Kong, where life is easier both politically and financially but the immigrants don’t have to sever all ties with China. Others generally leave for the USA, Canada, Singapore and Australia. These wealthy mainlanders feel their families and children would have better lives overseas, and cite reasons such as higher quality education, convenience, to avoid political issues, cleanliness and safety.

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 Many of these expatriates will return to China in their retirement, but it’s a different story for their children, who know much less about China and will often choose to remain in the west. This younger generation will have been raised in a different culture from their parents, and hence will have different values and outlooks on life.

 I talked to a friend of mine who is a student at Dundee University, he is of Chinese descent but was born here in Scotland. I asked him about the history of emigration in his family and got to understand the motivation behind the migrations of three different generations, which were all for very different reasons and essentially reflect the era that each generation came from.

 For his grandmother, moving from Hong Kong from China was a matter of safety. She fled there with her family to escape the invasion of the Japanese in China. This eight year conflict claimed the lives of 20 million Chinese according to official statistics. I used Google to try and source a statistic about how many Chinese fled China during this time and couldn’t find anything along those lines, which suggests that not very many did. Perhaps my friend’s family was among the very rare and fortunate.

 The prospect of a better quality education took his father to Scotland. Although he was born and raised in Malaysia, his family is Chinese. He came here to study engineering at Edinburgh University, but then never ended up returning to Malaysia upon graduating. This was mainly because he had started to make a life here, he had a job and had met his future wife, and would go on to do a PhD. I enquired about how his family felt about this permanent emigration, my friend wasn’t too sure, but he was under the impression that it was seen as a positive thing.

 As an afterthought I asked, “Would you ever go to live in China?”

 “No, never” he said firmly and confidently. This answer didn’t come as a surprise, but I asked for an explanation anyway. He considered the question briefly before replying.

 “Mainly because of the government I guess. It’s a closed system and they are closed minded. Ironically I realize it seems that I am closed minded for saying that, but it’s true, at least for the most part. There’s much less freedom there.”

 In this century in the United Kingdom, it’s almost impossible for my generation to imagine a life where we don’t have complete freedom of speech, where we don’t have the right to democracy, and where we can’t just type a few words into a search engine to find any information we could ever want to know. To suddenly have to live under a Chinese style regime would be a massive culture shock, and we’d feel it was for the worse.

 There are those currently living in China who fantasize of leaving but just don’t have the money of means to do so, the generation who feel they are still young enough to have their own American Dream. In Paul Midler’s book “Poorly Made in China” he meets a factory manager who tells Midler that he is from Los Angeles in the USA, after much confusion it is finally understood that he has never actually lived there but once visited the city on holiday and now wishes it was his home. Los Angeles was his aspiration, so he called it his home.

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 The reason I used the word emigration apposed to immigration for this post is because I wanted to focus on the attitudes and feelings the Chinese have about people leaving home, rather than the attitudes to the millions of immigrants who arrive into China’s cities. Emigration is the act of leaving ones home for another country or region. Immigration is the act of arriving in that country or region.

Has Chinese animation been influential on a global scale?

Since the advent of traditional animation over a century ago many notable figures and companies within the field have left their mark on the world. Disney, Warner Bros., Pixar, and DreamWorks, to name a few, have all made enormous contributions throughout the years to the field of animation and have gone on to achieve massive international success. This success is not limited to Hollywood or even the Western world. Japan’s Studio Ghibli has also gone on to captivate viewers across the globe, proving that animation is something that can be enjoyed universally and that the Eastern world is also more than capable of creating animated masterpieces.

Since the 1920’s China’s animation companies have produced and released many animated films domestically, all to varying degrees of success. However, China’s animation industry is practically unknown overseas. Perhaps this is due to the stories translating badly when released internationally. Or perhaps this is due to Chinese heritage taking over the focus of the film rather than the story itself. Whatever the reason, China’s animation history is still noteworthy and fascinating.

The earliest innovators in Chinese animation were the Wan family, twins Laiming and Guchan with their brothers Chaochen and Dihuan. Drawing inspiration from American and Western cartoons, The Wan family produced The Camel’s Dance in 1935, the first Chinese cartoon with sound. The Wan brothers later went on to create China’s very first animated feature length film, Princess Iron Fan.

Princess Iron Fan; a film about a princess whose fan is urgently needed to extinguish the flames surrounding a mountain village, was released on January 1, 1941 and took three years, 237 artists and 350,000 yuan to make. Historically significant, yet somewhat flawed, Princess Iron Fan never achieved the same global impact or success as say Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Over the years there have been many animated films released in China, including Nezha Conquers the Dragon King (1979), Monkeys Fish For the Moon (1981), or Feeling From Mountains and Water (1988).

And while these films were all fairly successful within China and some other parts of Asia, they did not go on to receive the same success internationally. I feel the reason for this is because of the sheer scale and dominance of Japan and America’s global animation success which has sadly overshadowed traditional Chinese animations.

The work of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli in particular is worth mentioning as these films are quintessentially Japanese in their style and feel, yet these cultural influences never overpower the story, but rather compliment it, thus allowing Western audiences to enjoy the film while experiencing Asian culture. Spirited Away was the first foreign language animated film to win an Academy Award, proving Japan’s talent with regards to creating a harmonious balance between national heritage and the art of story-telling.

Happy Lamb and Grey Wolf or Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is a Chinese animated television series created by Huang Weiming, Lin Yuting and Luo Yinggeng, The show revolves around the story of a group of joyful goats and an inept wolf who wishes to devour them. The show is not only aired across China, but is also aired in Taiwan, India and Singapore. The show has also gone on to spawn a fairly successful movie franchise too, however neither the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf television show or the movie franchise have seen an international release outside of Asia. The reasons for this are unclear.

After all, it’s not as if there isn’t a thirst for Eastern flavoured cartoons in the West. Foreign animations such as Pokemon have already seen worldwide success, generating enormous financial figures.

The worldwide animation industry is dominated by American and Japanese films and cartoons, meaning that China faces more competition now than ever. It is a shame that Chinese animation has been considerably overshadowed as there are some truly beautiful pieces of animation that not only highlights the dedication and hard work that goes into making these cartoons, but it also highlights China’s grand yet mysterious heritage that I feel would fascinate and entertain Western audiences of all ages.

China’s Peaceful Rise

America has only been known as a ‘Super Power’ for 67 years, since the end of World War II, along with Russia and the British Empire. However after the ‘Cold War’, America continued to grow in power and reputation than the other nations. And that is the way it stayed… until now.

 China has been making massive trade and investment deals with Latin America and Africa, allowing them to make their stand as one of the players for being the new superpower. The media have been saying that the 21st century is China’s century. Very much like the 20th belonged to the Americans and the 19th to the British.

Barry Buzan is Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics. He has been following China’s Economical growth and asserts that,

“China certainly presents the most promising all-round profile”. Of a potential superpower. Buzan claims that,

“China is currently the most fashionable potential superpower and the one whose degree of alienation from the dominant international society makes it the most obvious political challenger.” China has entered its new ‘Golden Age’ of prosperity. Since the loosening of the chains of Communism, China has grown considerable wealthy. Although the wealth is confined to the major cities, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Chongqing. The wealth gap doesn’t seem to deter the Chinese from going to strength to strength in the world rankings. This growth in the economy hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the world.

Many critics cite this as China’s down fall. History tells us that the Chinese people only allow a governing body to rule when there is prosperity in the land, this may be true for some but the vast majority of people living in China are living a poor life. In June 2011, there were riots in the Guangdong province of China, the manufacturing heartland. The riots were over unpaid wages and the heavy-handed response to the workers upset. This shows the social unrest of China’s poor majority, migrant workers from the countryside, the mainstay of China’s Economy. Working away from home, for little wages and long hours

‘Unrest is thought to have become increasingly frequent, although data is hard to come by. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has estimated that there were more than 90,000 mass incidents in 2006, with further increases in the following two years. ‘ 

Tania Branigan, the Guardian Newspaper.

However China fails to recognise this at the moment and ploughs on developing its cities and businesses. They have even published a White Paper called, ‘China’s Peaceful Development’, the name was changed from ‘China’s Peaceful Rise’ as it may have been misconstrued as threating.

Five Chapters of ‘China’s Peaceful Development’

The report’s main aim is to assure America and the rest of Asia that China’s ‘Military and Economical prominence will not pose a threat to peace and stability, and that other nations will benefit from PRC’s rising power and influence.’ 

Over all China has accomplished so much progression in the past decades and deserve to be an accredited country, however there is still serious issue within China and they will not progress more unless they realise their own problems, instead of what the world thinks of China, especially the USA.

Potential Superpower: China

China’s Image Abroad

Over the past few decades the world has seen tourism in China expand enormously.  It is now the third most visited country in the world and in 2010 alone it saw 55.98 million tourists explore its incredible culture.

So what is it that attracts so many to this historical country?

That is what I aim to find out.  I want to discover how China is “sold” to potential tourists through travel brochures and sites.  I want to show what these travel agents have to offer and how they encourage this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ trip.

Over the years, china has seen a lot of destruction and as a result has had to construct new ‘historic’ buildings or temples from scratch to promote tourism.  It does, however, still hold some of the greatest wonders of the world.

The first thing I noticed when looking at these travel brochures and sites were the glorified photographs.  Whilst that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I began to see similarities between many of the photos and all these sites were promoting the same tourist attractions; The Great Wall of China, the Xi’an’s Terracotta Army, The Forbidden Palace and Tian’anmen Square.  These are the main tourist attractions, but China has a lot more to offer.

Most travel sites offer a variety of holiday’s packages, including family holidays, group holidays, holidays for those travelling alone and those for students.  However, most are encouraging group tours. During my research I came across a travel site called Wendy Wu Tours.  This site offers an experience that is slightly different to any I’ve seen before.  It promotes group tours depending on your fitness level.  There are three categories; comfortable, medium and active paced tours.   I think this is a great way to promote a holiday, however like many group tours you are given a few days to explore China for yourself and for many who are left without the security of a tour guide who knows the culture and language it can be very hard to adjust to and can be very challenging.

When it comes to advice, most travel sites don’t offer much on what to be aware of and most are promoting group tours.  But Travel the Real China is a website that gives brilliant advice on places to go, what to be aware of and gives an account of someone’s personal experiences.  He’s honest about the things he struggled with such as the language barrier but also says that ‘Seeing and experiencing the Real China will change your life’ everything from the sights and the sounds to the people and the amazing food.  Along with Travel the Real China, Audley Travel gives an incredible account of China and what to expect.  It provides itinerary ideas, suggested accommodation, travel guides, the best time of year to go and specialist knowledge.

Tourists are clearly drawn to this country’s incredible culture, its history and the stories it has to tell, but how much longer will this last? China is under threat from rapid monderisation.  Many communities have been destroyed to make room for China’s booming population and the only way to do this is by building tall blocks of apartments where these small communities once lived.   Whilst Thomson travel sites promotes a fascinating holiday that tells a story of two countries, one being ‘an ancient kingdom embedded in the past, the other an electrifying agent of change’ it also warns tourists that ‘the China of old threatens to disappear forever’ due to ongoing changes in its economy.

All these travel sites and brochures offer different things but all of them continue to encourage tourists to visit this incredible country; a country that has a reputation for exceptional hospitality and a culture that is so inspiring.

Thomson describe its China tours as a way to ‘discover the unique rural landscape in all its glory’, Thomas Cook describes it as ‘unmissable’ and Audley Travel say ‘China is truly a country of thrilling contrasts, bursting with energy and magic.’

I suppose it’s the same with any holiday, no matter how much research you do beforehand you never know what to expect until you experience it for yourself.  For me, I’d love to experience the Real China.

Inside China

The British flag was lowered over Government House in Hong Kong – at midnight 1st July 1997. Since then, Hong Kong had handed back to the Chinese authorities, and ended the British control for more than 150 years. The handover comes with the freedom of ‘One Country Two Systems’ in this Special Administrative Region for fifty years and it is granted to remain as an individual city with its own government and policies.

In the past fifteen years, China’s growing prosperity and the rising international status has shocked the world. Despite the fact that china has become the country that everyone is talking about, the population in Hong Kong that claimed themselves as “Chinese” people are decreasing significantly.

A recent survey about the “Strength of Chinese Citizen Identity”, conducted by the Hong Kong University Public Opinion Programme (HKU POP), found people in Hong Kong that would identify themselves as “Chinese Citizen” has dropped to the lowest record in the past twelve years while those would identify themselves as” Hong Kong Citizen” has raised to the highest in the past ten years.

The China’s economic growth and development are running in counter to the identification of Hong Kong people. This is difficult for others to work out the reason, and as the survey point out, it may be outside the scope of the economic effects. Since Hong Kong is returned to China from 1997, it is struggling on finding its own identity. The central dilemma in Hong Kong is on how to redefine itself now as part of China.

While Hong Kong is getting more and more interactions with China in different aspects, the underlying political, social, moral and cultural values, as well as language, between Hong Kong and Mainland China are still very distinct. The previous colonial background has left Hong Kong a very different intrinsic value on system of education, transportation, architecture, mass media etc. Many facilities came together when their core values were introduced in Hong Kong based on the British model. It is undeniable that Hong Kong was profoundly affected by the western culture. In the contrary, China has a long history with its own oriental cultural values and different systems of the development as compared to Hong Kong. Therefore, the merger of these two places with different cultural values must be handled with care.

Starting from Year 2005, Hong Kong government has loosened the requirement on the visiting visa of Chinese citizens as well as the immigration requirement. There are 150 quotas per day for immigrants from China to immigrate into Hong Kong. Since then, there are more and more Chinese tourists and immigrants flowing into Hong Kong. This has greatly boosted the tourism industry as well as the service industry and has created many opportunities for Hong Kong. In the meantime, the large numbers of new immigrants – which accounts to 55,000 per years- are usually with lower education level and are difficult for them to find a job in the place. Therefore most of these new immigrants are living under the government benefits and sometimes criticized for slowing down the economy of the Hong Kong and putting more burdens on taxpayers. This is widely discussed among Hong Kong society that this huge number of low-skilled immigrants flowing into Hong Kong is a great burden to the whole city. As compared to other countries in the world, immigration requirement usually tends to attract high-educated and skilled labours to the benefits of the place. Therefore, this policy in Hong Kong is widely discussed and it sometimes imposes negative feeling on new immigrants by the locals.

Recently, many pregnant women in China try to arrange to go to Hong Kong to give birth, so that the baby can have a Hong Kong Residence. However, the huge numbers of booking by these groups of non-local mothers had even excessed the total numbers of local mothers. It has put a greater burden on the whole medical and hospital system in Hong Kong. After the government has imposed certain quotas for non-local mothers to give birth, in order to ease the medical situation, nevertheless, certain mainland mothers still try to come to Hong Kong without pregnancy bookings and go to the Accident and Emergency department of hospitals to give birth. This is heavily affecting the normal medical system in Hong Kong. With many criticisms in the Hong Kong society, the quarrel between Hong Kong people and Chinese people has become fiercer.

As a unique area in China, Hong Kong has attracted different people around China to pose opportunities. In the contrary, there are also many underlying issues that diverges the two kinds of people. In this great time of China, Hong Kong people’s recognition of Chinese identity seems to be some kind of quiet protest towards the country. The move from colonial to Chinese rule has proved a wrenching experience, a psychological rupture that could take years to resolve.