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Australia’s Chinese diaspora faces a representation deficit



Voting centre in Sydney, Australia, 17 May 2022 (Photo: Reuters/Loren Elliott).

Author: Osmond Chiu, Per Capita

Australia’s 2022 federal election marked a turning point in the country’s politics. For the first time, the shifting voting patterns of non-European ethnic minorities — specifically Chinese–Australians — were pivotal to the overall result, as post-election reviews from the centre-left Labor Party and the conservative Liberal Party both acknowledged. While the possibility of a significant swing in the voting patterns of Chinese–Australians was canvassed pre-election, its impact was only taken seriously after the vote.

Yet this increasing focus has not translated into a serious discussion about representation — an important issue for a multicultural society such as Australia, where ongoing underrepresentation signals that structural barriers to equality remain.

Despite having the proportionally largest Chinese diaspora in the Western world, Chinese–Australian representation remains low in Australian politics. While representation at the federal level has improved, it does not mirror the 5.5 per cent of the population who have Chinese ancestry.

This issue is not unique to Australia — similar underrepresentation issues exist in New Zealand and Canada. Many potential explanations have been suggested, such as language, lower levels of political participation and racial bias.

Underrepresentation has consequences for Australia’s policy settings, especially as US–China tensions escalate. Greater diversity delivers better decision-making because ‘group think’ is less likely, different perspectives are included and it forces a more careful consideration of information.

The complexity of issues facing the Chinese diaspora make the perspectives drawn from lived experiences and personal knowledge even more valuable. While those from mainland China constitute a plurality of the Chinese Australian community, this community is far from homogenous. There is a range of opinions — shaped by migration journeys, history, and personal experiences — that reflect the breadth and diversity of the Chinese diaspora in Australia.

A lack of diverse representation leads to one-dimensional perspectives where policy issues associated with China come to be seen simply through the lens of national security and defence. This ignores the potential impacts of a strained Australia–China relationship on Australia’s Chinese diaspora and other unintended domestic consequences. This should not be misconstrued as a suggestion to excuse or downplay the seriousness of human rights abuses by China, surveillance and harassment of diaspora communities on Australian soil and foreign interference concerns.

Attempts to dismiss concerns about the impact of these issues on the Chinese diaspora as ‘hurt feelings’ rather than understanding the genuine fear many Chinese–Australians have has been counterproductive. Their fear arises out of the perceived risk of being the target of distrust and exclusion, or seen as a potential vector of foreign influence simply due to their cultural background or family ties.

It also fuels the perception that Chinese–Australians would be acceptable collateral damage in a conflict. Efforts to deny claims of growing racism during the COVID-19 pandemic by some politicians — because it was seen as a geopolitical tactic by China — was an example of this. Such actions undermine community confidence that Australia genuinely believes in equality and can undermine soft power attempts to emphasise the importance of democratic values internationally.

Research shows that growing racism is far from imagined. The Lowy Institute revealed that over a third of Chinese–Australians were treated differently or less favourably because of their Chinese heritage in 2020 and 2021. Quantitative surveying by the University of Melbourne comparing Australian and US attitudes also found that perceptions of China led to stronger negative feelings towards permanent residents of Chinese heritage in Australia. Polling conducted by the Australia–China Relations Institute in 2022 found that over four in ten respondents thought Australians of Chinese origin could be mobilised by China to undermine Australia’s interests and social cohesion.

No doubt these are complex and challenging issues to navigate, and Australia is not alone in trying to work through them. Comparable Western countries with sizeable Chinese diasporas such as Canada, the United States and New Zealand are experiencing similar debates. But navigating these issues requires a sober focus on policy solutions that are…

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The Latest Updates on China’s Visa-Free Policies



China has fully reopened its borders, allowing international tourism to recover. Visa-free travel policies are reinstated, and visa fees for foreign travelers will be reduced by 25% from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024. China and Singapore are also pursuing a 30-day visa-free travel arrangement.

China has fully reopened its borders, promising recovery of international tourism and travel. Many of the visa-free travel policies that were in place prior to the pandemic have therefore come back into effect, enabling people from a wide range of countries to visit

UPDATE (December 8, 2023): On December 8, 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the Notice on Temporary Reduction of Fees for Applying Visa to China. According to this notice, during the period from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024, China shall cut visa fees by 25 percent across the board for foreign travelers. For more details, please consult with your local Chinese embassy or consulate.

UPDATE (December 7, 2023): China and Singapore are seeking to establish a mutual 30-day visa-free travel arrangement to boost people exchanges between the two countries, according to Reuters. At the time of writing, no further details have been released regarding the timeline or the eligibility, requirement, and application procedures of this new arrangement. Click here for more information regarding this mutual 30-day visa-free travel between China and Singapore. 

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Analysis of UK Investments in China for 2023: Evaluating Deals, Values, M&A, and Investments



British Government underwent reshuffle with pro-China David Cameron as Foreign Minister. Possible mild rapprochement with Beijing. Analysis of UK investments in China this year reveals potential trends. Report includes unique Q1-Q3 data and predicts outlook for 2024.

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis & Henry Tillman   

With a reshuffle in the British Government and ex-Prime Minister – and generally pro-China politician David Cameron now as the UK’s Foreign Minister, there have been early signs of a potential mild rapprochement in the British governments overall attitude towards Beijing.

But before people get carried away, we can look at what investments the UK has made into China this year – as investments made while anti-China politics have tended to be the norm are typically indicative of stronger trends. In this report I include unique data that has not previously been made public, and examine the Q1-Q3 investment trends to see what may lie ahead for 2024.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at

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Ratings agency cuts China’s credit outlook



Financially strapped local governments and state-owned enterprises pose a risk to China’s future economic growth, the ratings agency Moody’s said today in a report downgrading the country’s credit outlook from stable to negative.

Growing evidence suggests that the central government will be required to shore up the debt-laden entities, creating “broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic and institutional strength,” Moody’s said.

Local governments are thought to have accumulated trillions of dollars of debt due to spending during the COVID pandemic and a loss of income due to a troubled real estate market.

Despite the challenges, Moody’s maintained China’s overall credit rating of A1, which it describes as low-risk though not the safest category of investment. Moody’s said the rating reflects its belief in the country’s “financial and institutional resources to manage the transition in an orderly fashion.”

“Its economy’s vast size and robust, albeit slowing, potential growth rate, support its high shock absorption capacity,” Moody’s said. 

Even so, the outlook downgrade signals some concern about China’s future creditworthiness.

In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed in the ratings change and that Moody’s concerns about its growth and financial stability were “unnecessary.” 

In recent years, through the continuous efforts of relevant departments and local governments, China has established a system to prevent and resolve the risks of local government debt,” the ministry said. “The trend of disorderly and illegal borrowing by local governments has been initially curbed, and positive results have been achieved in the disposal of local government debt.”

An employee works at a steel plant in Huaian, in China’s eastern Jiangsu province, Dec. 3, 2023. (AFP)

Moody’s projects China’s annual growth rate will be 4% in 2024 and 2025 but average 3.8% from 2026 to 2030, at which time it might drop again to 3.5%. 

Derek Scissors, the chief economist at China Beige Book, a firm that analyzes China’s economy for investors, said in an email that the downgrade was to be expected.

“It’s a recognition of long-standing conditions, not a new development,” said Scissors, who is also a senior fellow at the free-market think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “I think growth will be faster than Moody’s thinks in 2024 and decelerate more than they think after that.”

Fees from local land sales account for nearly 40% of the revenue to local and regional governments. But China’s real-estate sector has been hit hard by overbuilding. One giant, Evergrande, defaulted under massive debt last year, triggering a broader real estate crisis.

Moody’s report said that “the downsizing of the property sector is a major structural shift in China’s growth drivers which is ongoing and could represent a more significant drag to China’s overall economic growth rate than currently assessed.”

Edited by Tara McKelvey

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