|319,000 born in Mainland China (excludes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan)
4.0% of the Australian population (by ancestry, 2011)
|Regions with significant populations|
|Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Wollongong|
various other Chinese dialects
|Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity, Atheism|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Chinese New Zealanders
Hong Kong Australians, Taiwanese Australians
Chinese Australians (traditional Chinese: 華裔澳洲人; simplified Chinese: 华裔澳洲人; pinyin: Huáyì àozhōu rén; Jyutping: wa4 yeui6 ou3 jau1 jan4) are Australian citizens of Chinese ancestry. Chinese Australians are one of the largest groups of Overseas Chinese people, and is the largest Overseas Chinese community in Oceania. Many Chinese Australians are immigrants along with their descendants from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, as well other countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore who have immigrated from Southeast Asia that include large populations of the Chinese diaspora. Chinese Australians are also a subgroup of East Asian Australians and represent the single largest minority in the country constituting approximately forty-percent of the Asian Australian population. As a whole, Australian residents identified themselves as having Chinese ancestry make up around four percent of Australia's population or approximately 865,000 people as of 2011. Citizens of Chinese ancestry made up 6.5 percent of the population of Melbourne.
The early history of Chinese Australians had involved significant immigration from villages of the Pearl River Delta in Southern China. Less well known are the kind of society Chinese Australians came from, the families they left behind and what their intentions were in coming. Many Chinese were lured to Australia by the gold rush. (Since the mid-19th century, Australia was dubbed the New Gold Mountain after the Gold Mountain of California in North America.) They sent money to their families in the villages, and regularly visited their families and retired to the village after many years, working as a market gardener, shopkeeper or cabinet maker. As with many overseas Chinese groups the world over, early Chinese immigrants to Australia established Chinatowns in several major cities, such as Sydney (Chinatown, Sydney), Brisbane (Chinatown, Brisbane) and Melbourne (Chinatown, Melbourne).
In spite of cultural transition difficulties, language barriers, and a strong fortitude from racial discrimination, Chinese Australians have evolved dramatically from working as indentured labourers to being one of the most well-established immigrant ethnic groups in Australia compared with the earlier immigrant arrivals. They record high levels of educational attainment that match and occasionally surpass the national average. With a high degree of upward academic and socioeconomic advancement and achievement, Chinese Australians are among the most well educated groups in Australia and comprise a large percentage of Australia's educated class, and hold higher educational records achievement among most demographic groups in the country.
Chinese peoples have a long and continuing role in Australian history. There were early links between China and Australia when Macau and Canton were used as an important trading ports with the fledgling colony. Mak Sai Ying (also known as John Shying) was the first officially recorded Chinese migrant in 1818. After his arrival he spent some time farming before, in 1829 he became prominent as, the publican of The Lion in Parramatta. Early 19th Century migration was in limited numbers and sporadic, primarily those who came in this period were free merchants or adventurers and, the more common, indentured labourers.
The Australian Gold Rushes are what first lured thousands of Chinese to the country. In 1855 in Melbourne there were 11,493 Chinese arrivals. This was startling considering that barely five years previous, Melbourne's entire population had only been around 25,000 people. Due to the widespread racists sentiments in parliament and on the goldfields, the first of many immigration restrictions and Chinese targeting laws was passed in late 1855. However, due to the long, poorly regulated borders between the colonies of Australia the numbers of Chinese on the goldfields continued to swell. Upon the goldfields Chinese peoples faced many hardships. There were violent anti-Chinese riots; the Buckland Riot, the Lambing Flats Riots, as well as general discrimination and prejudice. However, there were many establishments in this period that would have a lasting effect on the history of Australia and the history of Chinese in Australia. One of these establishments were the Chinese camps, which often, later, became Chinatowns in Australia. There was also the establishment and the consolidation of power for Chinese societies, many of these are still active in Australia today. These societies provided support and community for the Chinese in the colonies.
After the gold rushes the numbers of Chinese living in the cities swelled and their businesses and industries contributed much to growth of Melbourne and Sydney in the late 19th century. Mei Quong Tart was a prominent business figure in Sydney. However there were very few Chinese women migrating to Australia. At one point in the 1860s the numbers of Chinese in Australia was around 40,000. Of these, it is believed only 12, were women. This gender imbalance meant that some Chinese men married women of European descent but many had it in their hearts to return to China.
Anti-Chinese sentiment also strongly contributed to the establishment of the Federation of Australia. Some of the first Acts of the new federation would establish the White Australia Policy. This policy made it almost impossible for anyone new to migrate from China to Australia. After federation the population of Chinese in Australia steadily declined. Despite the declining numbers people with Chinese heritage still played their part in Australian history. There were over 200 people with Chinese heritage who fought for Australia in World War One, including the decorated sniper Billy Sing. A similar number fought for Australia in The Second World War.
The final end of the White Australia Policy saw new arrivals from the Chinese diaspora and for the first time significant numbers from non-Cantonese speaking parts of China. The first wave of arrivals were ethnic Chinese refugees from Vietnam and Cambodia during the 1970s; this was followed by economic migrants from Hong Kong in the 1980s and 1990s, whose families often settled in Sydney while the breadwinner returned to Hong Kong to continue earning an income – a significant reversal of the traditional migration pattern.
After the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the then Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, allowed students from mainland China to settle in Australia permanently. Since then, immigrants from mainland China and Taiwan have arrived in increasing numbers. New institutions were established for these arrivals and old ones such as the Chinese Chamber of Commerce revived; Chinese language newspapers were once again published. The equality of citizenship laws and family reunion immigration after 1972 meant that an imbalance of the sexes, once a dominant feature of the Chinese communities in Australia, was not an issue in these later migrations.
Chinese immigration has increased continuously from the 1990s and today the Chinese are the third largest group among immigrants. Since the mid-1990s, migration has become less permanent than it used to be, and goes in more than direction, a trend that pertains also to the Chinese. Students and academics are examples of this pattern. In 1990, Chinese settlers rarely returned permanently, but by 2002, the number of Hong Kong settlers leaving Australia for good equalled those arriving during that year.
In 2005-6 China (not including Hong Kong or Macau) was the third major source of permanent migrants to Australia behind the United Kingdom and New Zealand but with more migrants than from India. Between 2000–01 and 2005–06, the number of skilled migrants coming to Australia from China more than tripled, from 3,800 to 12,500 people.
Mainland China continues to remain the biggest country from which immigrants come to Australia as it has overtaken the United Kingdom to become its largest source immigrants since 2011. Some Chinese immigrants in Australia have established special schools where the education system is built to resemble that in China, with results more focused on exams. Some Chinese parents also choose to send their children to special training classes outside school, particularly Chinese schools.
China is Australia's biggest two-way trading partner due to its proximity as migrants from China increased to nearly 30,000 out of Australia's total annual intake of 168,685 as skilled immigrants deliver significant benefits as the Chinese immigrants contribute to economic growth and their relative youth offsets some of the impacts of an ageing labour force in Australia.
The White Australia Policy of the early 20th century severely curtailed the development of the Chinese communities in Australia. However, since the advent of multiculturalism as a government policy in the 1970s, many ethnic Chinese from Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia) have immigrated to Australia.
According to the 2011 Australian Census, 318,969 Australians declared they were born in China (excludes SARs and Republic of China (Taiwan)). A further 74,995 declared they were born in the Hong Kong SAR, 2,013 in the Macau SAR and 24,368 in Taiwan: a total of 304,775 or 1.5% of those counted by the Census. Chinese ancestry was claimed by 866,205, either alone or with another ancestry, and Taiwanese ancestry was claimed by 5,837 persons. The 2011 Australian Census reported that Chinese was the seventh most common self-reported ancestry. In the 2001 Census, just under 40% of those claiming Chinese ancestry were born in mainland China, Hong Kong or Taiwan; 26% were born in Australia with other notable birth places being Malaysia (10%) and Vietnam (8%).
Chinese Australians have historically been of predominately Cantonese descent from Hong Kong and Canton province. Due to recent immigration from other regions of mainland China and Taiwan, Mandarin has surpassed Cantonese in number of speakers. The Australian Bureau of Statistics lists 336,410 speakers of Mandarin followed by Cantonese at 263,673. Second or higher generation Chinese Australians are either monolingual in English or bilingual to varying degrees with Chinese.
According to the 2011 Census, Sydney was home to almost half (46.6%) of the Chinese population by birth. Melbourne had just over one-quarter of the Chinese born population (28.5%). The rest of Australia also had about one-quarter of the Chinese born population. Of Australia's states, only New South Wales has Chinese as one of its five most-nominated ancestries.
In Sydney there were 358,063 persons, or approximately 8.2% of the population, who identified themselves as having Chinese ancestry (either exclusively or with another ancestry). Other Australian cities with large Chinese populations include Melbourne (244,649 or 6.1%), Perth (72,273 or 4.2%) and Brisbane (69,343 or 3.4%). 53% of mainland China-born and 51% of Hong Kong born residents were enumerated in Sydney, while the largest portion of Taiwanese-born residents are in Brisbane (34%).
|Mainland China||132,020||East Timor||4,880|
In a 2004 study on the intermarriage pattern in Australia, the proportion of second-generation Chinese Australians with spouses of Anglo-Celtic ancestry was approximately 21% and for third generation it was 68%.
- 63.2% — non religious
- 16.2% — Buddhist
- 11.4% — Chinese folk religions and Taoism
- 3.4% — Catholicism
- 5.9% — not stated
In 2006, 55.0 percent for Chinese-born Australians aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 52.5 percent of the Australian population. Among Chinese-born Australians, 42.2 percent had Diploma level or higher* qualifications and 4.8 percent had Certificate level qualifications. For Chinese-born Australians, 88,440 had no higher non-school qualification, of which 35.3 percent were still attending an educational institution. In 2006, 57.3 per cent of the Hong Kong-born Australians aged 15 years and over had some form of higher non-school qualifications compared to 52.5 percent of the Australian population. Among the Hong Kong-born Australians, 45.7 per cent had Diploma level or higher* qualifications and 6.1 percent had Certificate level qualifications. From the Hong Kong-born Australians, 28,720 had no higher non-school qualification, of which 44.7 per cent were still attending an educational institution.
In 2006, 31.9% of Chinese Australians attained a bachelor's degree compared to just 14.8% for the general Australian population. 36.1% of Hong Kong Australians attained a bachelor's degree or higher. Chinese Australians born overseas reported high educational attainment with over 50% of them holding at least bachelor's degree. When all these rates are melded, approximately 42 percent of (first and second generation) Chinese Australians have achieved a bachelor's degree, making it roughly three times the national average of 14 percent.
The pathways Chinese-Australian families choose to motivate their children is partly based on their cultural values which emphasise scholastic excellence, and partly on their own experiences in their native as well as in the host country. Customarily, activities taking place in Chinese-Australian homes were related to the education of their children. Regular family discussions on educational matters and career paths had a modelling effect. The key feature of these families was that parental involvement in their children's school-related activities remained high throughout the high school time of their children. Chinese-Australian families indicated that diligence, a deep cultural respect for education and motivation to become educated was quite strong among first generation immigrants. Chinese-Australians have a significant influence and place considerable pressure on their children to academically. In addition, mathematics achievement and participation of high school students have a strong correlation towards the success or achievement goals and sense of competence. In addition, Chinese students from migrant backgrounds, in comparison to those from refugee backgrounds, are more academically successful.
Among Hong Kong-born Australians aged 15 years and over, the participation rate in the labour force was 63.3 percent and the unemployment rate was 6.6 percent. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 64.6 and 5.2 percent respectively. Of the 39,870 Hong Kong-born Australians who were employed, 42.2 percent were employed in a Skill Level 1 occupation, 12.3 percent in Skill Level 2 and 8.5 percent in Skill Level 3. The corresponding rates in the total Australian population were 28.7, 10.7 and 15.1 percent respectively.
Many Chinese Australians work in white collar middle class jobs. A striking feature of the Chinese Australians is that they tend to enroll in courses which require technical skills rather than linguistic and social skills. That is, they aim to be scientists, mathematicians, statisticians, accountants, doctors, dentists, financial analysts, pharmacists, computer scientists, computer programmers, engineers, post-secondary educators, and investment bankers or high powered white collar occupations that typically require a lot of mathematical and scientific aptitude. But Chinese Australians are under-represented in occupations such as journalism, law and other professions that require language skills and face to face contact. First-generation Chinese Australians also experience problems in getting white collar jobs commensurate with their qualifications and work experience instead they go into business and operate convenience stores, car dealerships, grocery stores, coffee shops, news agencies and restaurants while sacrificing to pay for their children education as perceiving education as the only available channel of social mobility, substantial investment in their children's education at a disproportionate sacrifice to family finance and social well-being is an indication of parental concerns and expectations.
33.8% of Chinese Australians and 46.6% Hong Kong Australians work as white collar professionals compared to 32% for the total Australian population. 63.3% of Hong Kong Australians and 56.3% of Chinese Australians participate in the Australian workforce which was below the national average of 67.1%. Chinese Australians and Hong Kong Australians also have an unemployment rate of 11.2% and 6.6% respectively. Both figures were higher than the national average of 4.9%.
In 2006, the median individual weekly income for Chinese-born Australians aged 15 years and over was $242, compared with $431 for all overseas-born and $488 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $466. In 2006, the median individual weekly income for Hong Kong-born Australians aged 15 years and over was $425, compared with $431 for all overseas-born and $488 for all Australia-born. The total Australian population had a median individual weekly income of $466. Therefore, median weekly earnings for Chinese Australians are relatively lower than the population average.
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