Shenzhen in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong Province, adjacent to Hong Kong, was a small town in the s but by claimed to be the centre of an urbanizing region of 10 million people. Over four million had been resident for less than a year while over eight million did not have a hukou, or household residency permit, a legal definition of residential rootedness Shenzhen Data Communication Bureau ; also Lin ; Wang and Meng The rapid modernization of China and its growing ambitions have created opportunities but also anxieties in nearby satellite territories. Capitalists and the rising middle class in Hong Kong and Taiwan, while huge investors in the Mainland Hsing ; Olds , have also been apprehensive of the scale of Chinese aspirations.
A resolution to the middle-class dilemma of simultaneous eagerness and wariness in engaging China commercially has been to seek safe havens around the Pacific Rim, should circumstances require a sudden strategic retreat. Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, amongst others, have provided accessible sanctuaries through student visas and immigration programmes welcoming skilled workers and business people, while a portion of the Hong Kong middle-class was permitted to take advantage of ex-colonial linkages to Britain.
Some of these trans-Pacific migrants were temporary movers from the start: Mak writes of some Hong Kong employers holding positions open for valued staff during the two year residency in Australia required for citizenship eligibility. But other migrants drawn by quality of life, educational assets, and personal freedoms in the West are prepared to move beyond the sojourner model with plans for permanent residence… perhaps.
The Mainland itself has also become a source of trans-Pacific migrants with the onset of liberalizing tendencies leading to the emigration law. Canada has benefited from these reforms with the arrival of large numbers of skilled Chinese engineers and IT workers, though many have experienced difficulty in securing appropriate employment and some are considering return migration Teo In summer , four decrepit vessels landed bemused migrants on the remote British Columbia coast Mountz Twenty years earlier, equally impoverished arrivals, Vietnamese boat people, many of them ethnic Chinese, completed a publicly-funded journey from refugee camps by air to Canada after their own desperate escapes on the South China Sea Beiser These distinctions among ethnic Chinese are complemented by a huge range of past experiences and future life plans, so that any view of a unitary Chinese diaspora as either an objective phenomenon Wang or an internalized source of identity Ang is compromised by deep ambivalence.
Ethnic essentialism — not merely specifying authentic or unvarying cultural tropes, but also homogenizing including mapping populations on the basis of language or place of birth — is always contingent, a classificatory act that is both demonstrable fact and convenient fiction. Consequently the self-designated Chinese-Canadian population of 1.
The total is perhaps modest in a global diaspora recently estimated at 33 million, but significant as part of the seven million listed outside Asia Ma The varied national backgrounds of ethnic Chinese in Toronto in , over 80 percent of them foreign-born, include 43 percent born in Hong Kong, 34 percent in China, 7. Among the immigrants who claim Chinese ethnicity and moved to Canada between and , the distribution of schooling is bi-modal; 39 percent had nine years of education or less, while 43 percent had post-secondary education.
Their citizenship was diverse. It is in this sense that we employ official statistics, that tell us a good deal, but less than we may infer. Census data disclose considerable spatial concentration in the residential pattern of Chinese-Canadians; in , 73 percent lived in the census metropolitan areas CMAs of Toronto , and Vancouver , that housed in contrast just 22 percent of all Canadians. These recent arrivals were even more spatially concentrated, with Toronto and Vancouver assembling 82 percent of the national total.
While noting events in Toronto, the primary focus is Vancouver, the preferred destination of wealthy migrants. However, with their diffuse diasporic identity, both here and there, our attention cannot be confined to static statistical and cartographic displays of two cities, for this is a story about life lines, a broader pan-Pacific field including not only East Asia, but also similar places in Australia, New Zealand and the United States that will be referenced comparatively throughout.
We now move to four vignettes that introduce and distil some of the themes to be developed in greater complexity in the following chapters. The first episode confirmed the strength of transnational linkages between distant sites, displaying, in this case brutally, the effective geographical proximity of two world cities, Toronto and Hong Kong, within a pan-Pacific socio-spatial field. SARS: Toronto Goes Global In large cities today a number of candidates present themselves for iconic status as harbinger of globalization. More sombre, but for my purposes more pertinent, was the highly contagious outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome SARS that immobilized the city for several months in and brought it unwelcome global attention Ali and Keil , ; Duffin and Sweetman Transmitted by a Toronto victim who returned from a visit to Hong Kong in February that year, SARS caused 44 deaths and between and infections over the next several months Naylor Like never before, Toronto became captive to global scrutiny, subject to travel advisories and effective quarantine from the World Health Organization, and stigmatized as the North American epicentre of the disease in widely disseminated media and global internet maps.
It took a sensational event supplying an equivalently loud world signal, a vast benefit concert at the end of July headlined by global masters of spin, the Rolling Stones, to declare the all clear and bring back Toronto from its pariah status into the network of hyperlinked world cities. Highly contagious, the disease was transmitted to 12 other hotel residents who acted as carriers during the next few days in travel to Vietnam, Singapore, Ireland, Germany and Canada. The returnee to Toronto, an elderly woman, became ill and died just over a week later. The SARS outbreak highlighted several important themes in the redefinition of time and place in the global city.
The first is the expansion of experienced space for many to a unified social field that transcends national political borders. Guangdong, Hong Kong and Toronto became effectively next-door neighbours, with medical professionals anxiously seeking the interactions among the three places that shaped the incidence of SARS infections. Cross-border routes joining scattered hubs, as well as sedentary place-based roots, define the social geography of the world city Clifford , So the fixed and sometimes segregated maps of urban ethnic groups are only the first approximation of life-worlds equally characterized by movement and discontinuity, by loyalties and materialities commonly in flux, by identities lived there as well as here.
Second, accompanying the expansion of networked space is the compression of time through the instantaneous electronic transmission of information and capital between nodes across this interlocking field. Virtual simultaneity in the movement of goods and people by air travel Dodge and Kitchin permitted SARS to travel from East Asia to central Canada in less than a day. The proximity of places has been enhanced by greater transportation affordability as well as by savings in time.
The large reduction in transaction costs, lowering the barrier of distance, has extended mobility to larger numbers of travellers, while thickening the network connectivity of formerly isolated places Kasper Among a sample of some immigrants in Vancouver, most from Asia, over 40 percent maintain contact with their country of origin at least weekly, primarily by telephone and e-mail, a quarter fly home once a year or more often, over one-fifth own a home or other property in their native land Hiebert and Ley Third, in contrast to the frequently celebratory discussion of the networked globe, SARS was a reminder that to be globally connected means exposure not only to life lines but also to less welcome networks, including disease, drug cartels, and terrorist cells.
Fourth, new spaces are being incorporated into the networked globe. The Toronto SARS outbreaks were concentrated in suburban hospitals, the metropolitan setting of growing proportions of recent immigrants. The older model of inner city sites of arrival and residence, adjacent to the downtown railway station or the docks, is being bypassed.
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Today many immigrants enter and leave a city repeatedly by air, and for some of them proximity to the suburban airport is desirable. But the suburbs have other assets. Downtown and inner city neighbourhoods in gateway cities have been increasingly claimed as the employment and housing markets of global rangers engaged in private and public corporate activity, so that poorer immigrants are commonly displaced to the housing stock of cheaper suburbs, the new location of industry, warehousing and routine service activities that have themselves re-located from the expensive post-industrial core.
Middle-class migrants also find advantages in suburban homeownership, so that in many gateway cities, including Toronto and Vancouver as well as Los Angeles, New York and Washington, the ethnoburb, a district of concentrated immigrant settlement, has become a new feature of suburban life Li Finally, SARS implicated issues of spatial scale and shifting jurisdictions. Explicit here is a global scale of interaction that overrides local places. But a global innovation never lands in empty space. The arrival of SARS in Toronto was challenged, resisted and eventually overcome by the co-ordination of medical professionals working for public agencies and three levels of government.
Misrecognized, the disease was also initially underestimated, with less than adequate precautions drawn up to protect health workers and the at-risk public. SARS was a global threat, locally resisted, and the terms of engagement were themselves geographically variable. But disease outcomes were very different. There were only five cases, four of them carried directly from Hong Kong, and no deaths. The uneven geographies of SARS in Toronto and Vancouver exemplify variable scale effects contributing to quite different outcomes. Local contingencies still matter.
Re-directing Orientalism In contrast to the hypermobility within transnational fields illustrated by the diffusion of SARS is the seemingly exaggerated stasis of ethnic settlement, fixed on the map, rooted in the urban landscape. Scarcely ever welcome before , tolerated only at the margins of society, controlled through an invidious Head Tax from , and excluded altogether by the Chinese Immigration Act from to , the story of the Chinese in Canada has followed a well-told new world genre of racialized outcasts in a white settler society Ward ; Anderson ; Li ; Roy Such a narrative has provided an almost ideal type for critical race studies, for Chinatown and the Chinese formed a seamless and mutually constitutive fusion of a marginalized place and a crudely stigmatized identity.
The Vancouver enclave endured two white riots in and , the second from a mob who poured out of a meeting of the Asiatic Exclusion League sic , smashing property and roughing up residents. ChineseCanadian literature has also pursued this spatial genre Khoo , in autobiographical and historical novels like Jade Peony Choy in which a Chinese life-world, though vibrant, is internalized and contained in a claustrophobic space of a few blocks. Sun Yat—sen Figure 1. Moving beneath the selfconscious new Chinatown Gate, we pass the Dr. But suddenly critical race studies confront the material and seemingly colour-blind articulation of global capitalism.
We are on the edge of the vast Concord Pacific Place Figure 1. The landscape contrasts of this district and its other are profoundly ironic. Behind us, to the east, in a Chinatown landscape of slowly decaying ethnic stuff, some might identify the last gesture of Orientalism, sustained and promoted by three levels of government in the designated Chinatown Historic Area. Ahead of us to the west the massive economic power of contemporary East Asia takes its cues if not from a concocted Occidentalism, then from an alternate Asian modernity Ong The juxtaposition with the contained parish of Old Chinatown is striking, for Concord Pacific Place — note the peaceful hands across the Pacific allusions in its name — is fully cosmopolitan, outward looking, the world its investment oyster, its very first towers in the early s advertising high-speed internet linkages as a prominent sales feature.
The oppressed victims of critical race studies meet freewheeling homo economicus, agent of a globalizing Chinese modernity. They are not merely tolerated by the state, but welcomed, valued as the harbingers of global enterprise Ong As early as the s, British Columbia politicians were casting an eye to the economic potential of the Pacific Rim nations.
Federally, the liberal internationalism of the Pearson and Trudeau years assembled the legislative and diplomatic infrastructure to establish a trans-Pacific network. Subsequent trade missions by municipal, provincial and federal delegations to East and Southeast Asia, hopped between Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Shanghai, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, putting out the message that Canada, and especially its Pacific province of British Columbia, were open for business. Meanwhile, an ideologically driven British Columbia government assembled an investment-friendly environment, provoking tough labour struggles through the recessionary years of the early s.
A familiar ingredient in this neo-liberal economic agenda was Expo 86, a six-month long world fair sponsored by the provincial government with federal and corporate aid. Expo was a transparent and successful culmination of an extended foray into the Pacific arena, an appetizer to entice trade, investment, tourists and potential settlers Ley and Olds Sale of the entire property by the provincial government to the billionaire Li family at the close of the fair, in preference to a local bidder, was a logical conclusion to a decade of courting East Asian capital.
Successful entrepreneurs in Hong Kong included bourgeois families that had fled Shanghai ahead of the Communist army and were worried in light of the Sino-British Joint Declaration of that planned for the repatriation of the British colony to the Mainland in Their anxieties were much aggravated by the harsh suppression of student reformers in Tiananmen Square in Periodic sabre-rattling by the Mainland government in the Taiwan Strait, including provocative exercises in and , unsettled wealthy Taiwanese households who could see the benefits of portfolio diversification and passport insurance.
And in South Korea the instability of living with the wild card of North Korea as nearest neighbour encouraged the same global scanning for safer havens.
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In this uncertainty the attentions of Canadian trade missions were of considerable interest, and not only for investment purposes. Canadian immigration had expanded away from its European-preference origins, as reforms in and welcomed global arrivals and the announcement of multiculturalism in emphasized that all were welcome. Moreover, further immigration revisions in and appeared tailored to the needs of anxious ethnic Chinese capitalists in East and Southeast Asia. The Government of Canada assembled a Business Immigration Programme BIP whose express intent was to recruit wealthy immigrants to advance economic development in Canada either through active entrepreneurialism or more passive investment Ley In the neo-liberal commodification of everything during the globalizing s, financial capital with entrepreneurial experience offered a passage to Canadian citizenship.
Between and , almost , immigrants landed in Canada through the BIP, making the Canadian programme the most successful in the global immigration marketplace, far ahead of competing programmes in Australia, New Zealand and the United States Wong Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea accounted for over half the business immigrants landing in Canada, and three-quarters in British Columbia. This cohort of economically privileged newcomers, some of them fabulously wealthy, contributed a new genre of millionaire migrants.
It is about the unsettled nature of living between cultures, of re-location as an often traumatic adventure, as a family switches roles from insider to outsider, from host to stranger Mitchell In the film, while a family friend moves to Vancouver, the Chen family selects Australia, the earlier destination of a daughter, while the oldest son remains in Hong Kong and a second daughter migrates to Germany.
Family dispersal achieves the spreading of risk and the maximizing of overall opportunity. It is this same spatial strategy that is often associated with the expansion of Chinese family firms, as sons are despatched to potential markets to develop a new outpost for the family business. Such Canadian episodes are part of a broader narrative of travel and entrepreneurship.
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Aided by the new profession of immigration consultants, briefs on the details of immigration policy in different countries are carefully reviewed as middle-class families from East Asia scan the international immigrant market. The story I shall tell then is not simply a Canadian story; the migrants could have moved elsewhere, some of them will, others will return to their place of origin.
A comparative eye sees migration to Canada as one realized link in a network of locational possibilities and not necessarily the only or final outcome. Michael Peter Smith has properly challenged the inert role of human actors in globalization theory, their reduction before the master narrative of global political economy. Their motives for migration are frequently complex, even contradictory. For others, the placement of a child in a western school or university provides a toehold that may draw other family members Waters , In Vancouver, San Francisco, Sydney and Auckland in particular, the celebrated scenery and quality of life are significant attractions for those near retirement.
In all of this, the role of economic opportunity, as we shall see later, can be more ephemeral in selection of a destination than host states expected or wanted. The networked family has well-researched strategies toward space and time, stations and seasons. Compared to the Canadian programme, its American equivalent has been heavily under-subscribed.
Life cycle timing also matters greatly. In this synchronization of stations and seasons one can see the careful weighing of options by the travelling family, the deployment of human agency to optimize family objectives, negotiating and where necessary evading containment by national governments. In a neo-liberal era homo economicus is cast as a heroic figure and the Chinese business family is highly regarded. Ong —4 has noted how Chinese-American businessmen in California are well aware of their resourceful reputation, with a special skill in trans-Pacific deal making, and are not embarrassed to take advantage of their calling.
But Ong also deconstructs the benevolent myth of the Chinese family as a business corporation, laying bare the incivilities of guanxi and the bamboo network. It is a regime predicated upon a patriarchy that can be very demanding of the emotional resources of spouses and children. As immigrant women learn new gender roles in the West, challenges to patriarchy can lead to awkward family relations Waters Nor is the role of an absentee husband inevitably one of dominance. Within the fragmented family, particularly the so-called astronaut household with paterfamilias working in East Asia while his family is domiciled overseas, vulnerability rather than victory is an abiding trope.
Murder and the Media In a circumscribed village society news is shared interpersonally. In a global society interpersonal interests still shape the selection and interpretation of information but sources from distant places are invariably the media, for mediascapes provide one of the constitutive elements of the global order Appadurai In an electronic age, mediascapes mould the imagination of other places as potential migration destinations Teo Yet the media are never innocent, and consciously and unconsciously project the intentionality of the society and government in which they are embedded.