Wednesday, August 11, 2010


by Tenzin Lekshay, 11 August 2010

Since the inception of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, the Communist Party of China (CCP), the self proclaimed helm and the savior of millions of proletarian and the campesino has drastically switched their formulae from socialism to Capitalism. But the core program of the CCP still remains vibrant in a multi faced approaches of expanding the Middle Kingdom which not only focus on capturing or claiming territorial rights, but also pushing forward dumping its large Chinese population else where in the world. I shall focus on the second issue that deals with the Migration of Chinese populace, both internally as well as externally spreading all over the world.

My hypothesis on Chinese migration is based on 'push n pull' factors of Migrational theory which in Chinese case is simply both formulated or unformulated factors which concerns with the governmental policy. The overwhelming shift in the demographic composition within China and other countries with the preempt flows of Chinese emigrants has both win and lose implication in China.

Even before the rise of CCP, the Nationalist Government of China under the rule of Kuomintang went on charting for the reunification of China. The situation then was troublesome with the clusters of events occurred in China, i.e Japanese attacks, civil wars with the Communist and the foreign imperialists' exploitations and intrusions.

The concept of Middle Kingdom "zhōngguó" originated during the reign of Zhou dynasty (1045-256 BC) was later misinterpreted with the political overtone of carrying out the expansionistic drive along the far end neighbours. PRC earlier claimed in their initial white paper on Tibet that Tibet was part of China since 7th Century, which infact was not historically true. The concept of Middle kingdom varied over the ages as the Great wall of China, a fortress built and maintained since 5 BC to protect the Chinese empire in the northern border is currently located in the middle of China, which in one end of the mighty gate is located within proximity of Tibet's border in northeast.

During the early years of CCP rule, in the name of 'liberation', around 40,000 PLA troops launched their attack at the eastern ghat of Tibet in Chamdo and defeated the meager Tibetan troops after a round of 21 battles till 19 October 1950.1 After annexing Chamdo, China forced Tibetan delegation to sign the infamous Seventeen Point Agreement in Peking, which declares Tibet as a part of PRC.2 Since then, hundreds and thousands of Chinese armed forces marched into Tibet under the strict guidance of Mao Tsetung. But Mao's strategy of Gradualism inside Tibet short lived with a gross destruction of Tibetan cultures and traditions and the highhanded massacre of Tibetan people. During the post Mao era, CCP adopted several developmental reforms which also sent thousands of Cadres to serve in Tibet. Not just in Tibet, China had implemented campaign of rigorous population transfer in Manchuria in the late 19th century and East Turkistan in 1950s. Such an overwhelming demographic shift helped China to hold their legitimacy over these areas.

Go West: Domestic affairs

Since 1992, with the economic liberalization in China, it encouraged Chinese emigrants to look westward towards Tibet and East Turkistan (Xinjiang) to earn their living. In Tibet, due to various incentives provided by the government, along with the infrastructural development embrace and encourage Chinese mainlanders to settle in Tibet. However, the official communiqué stands on to help boosting Tibet's economy. In March 1992, Chen Kuiyuan, Party secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) called on "inland Chinese to come and help open up Tibet." to "to narrow as soon as possible the gap in economic development between Tibet and other areas of the nation". Over the last five decades of Chinese rule in Tibet, many developmental projects were sanctioned and built, such like hotels, roads, power projects, railways and airports. The cadres in Tibet are earning more than any other state employees except those in Shanghai and Beijing with an average salary of 48,750 yuan in 2009.3 Even the report of the Chinese think tanks in their investigative report on the March 2008 Demonstration clearly indicated a rise of a new Communist Aristocrats in Tibet who are under the Beijing payrolls.

The question remains whether these developments and the massive population transfers inside Tibet manifested only as an economic oriented motive of CCP to help Tibet or inclined towards a political objectivity of unifying Tibet in PRC. The Chinese are quite tightlipped about how many Chinese emigrants are migrating and settling inside Tibet. But it was reported earlier that majority of the 100, 000 labourers used for the construction of Golmud-Lhasa Railway line were Chinese, and Tibetans count only 10 percent of total work force which is estimated as 7,800.4 Tibet railway helps in maintaining links with Mainland China not only on commercial purpose but also has significant political role in domestic and international affairs concerning SAARC nations, excluding Sri Lanka and Maldives.

The plan of building high-budgeted railway lines inside Tibet was explicitly regarded as political reason5 and Tibetan exile group referred it as 'second invasion of Tibet'. Influx of huge Chinese emigrants into Tibet soon followed, which the Chinese government fear not to reveal but it is clearly understandable when the millions of Chinese visited Tibet.6 It is considered catastrophic which led to the total annihilation of Tibetan culture, environment, tradition, language and livelihood, thus virtually implicate a cultural genocide inside Tibet. Railway plays an important role in ‘Western Development Project’ and Tibet shares the similar fate of Manchuria and East Turkistan, which was strictly dominated by Han Majority.

The 'Great leap West' or the 'Western development Project' projected to assimilate and integrate Tibet politically into China, which is strategically important for China to stretch their powers into neighbouring countries which shares common borders with Tibet.

Go West: Beyond China

China, the world's most populated nation had old civilization, which was formerly reputed for commercial ties with other nations. But China was not politically strong enough to become a domain in the world political affairs, later became subordinate of western imperialist powers for centuries. The Chinese emigrants first entered United States in the early 19th century as cheap labourers. Since then, Chinese people spread all over the world, making their new home away from China, establishing China Town in every corner of the world.

When the nationalist government was set up after the downfall of Qing Empire in 1911, many intellectual Chinese emigrants returned permanently to China with the hope 'to create a new order'. But the anarchy, widespread bureaucracy, prolonged civil wars in China had disheartened many of them who later rebelled and challenged not only Koumingtang but also Communist regime. The proclamation of 'leaning to one side', favoring Soviet model of socialist bloc had subsequently led to the 'Great Leap Forward'. Many of those diasporic returnees engaged in pompous 'Hundred Flowers Movement' and criticized the government. They were later contempt and suffered tremendously during the 'Cultural Revolution'.

In America, after the enactment of Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, thousands of Chinese immigrated to United States. According to the 2000 Census of United States, it is amounted to 2,314,537 of single ethnic Chinese population and 420,304 of multiracial Chinese in United States.7 In 2009 alone, 65,000 Chinese secured either immigration or permanent resident status in the United States. Like wise, 25,000 Chinese in Canada and 15,000 in Australia were legalized as resident of these nations in 2009.8 462,396 Chinese people were counted to have lived in Japan in 2003, covering quarter of foreign nationals in Japan.9 Over the years, China pushed more Chinese populace in Africa and it is estimated that in South Africa alone, it recorded to have around 200,000 Chinese people. But it is hard to get the exact details of Chinese presence in Africa. Official Chinese sources indicate 800 Chinese companies operating in 49 African countries.10 In total, Overseas Affairs office of State Councils estimated around 45 million overseas Chinese (huaqiao) all over the world.

Looking West: Challenges and Opportunities

Many Chinese elitists are moving out of China, which includes professionals, enteprenuers, corrupted officials, and human right activists. As for the elites is concern; the grass is greener on the other side of the world. Despite ongoing global economic downturn in the west, they venture to earn more for their living. It is also due to the widening gap between rich and poor that they expect some possible hatred toward rich and wealthy entrepreneurs in China. The defected economic policy entangled with the political encroachment may be the pushing factor in present days Chinese migration to the western countries. Thousands of human rights and pro democratic activists were either released on medical parole or escaped to seek asylum in the west. It is estimated that 75% of 270,000 self paid Chinese students in foreign universities are expected to be non returnees.11 Many of these students felt that once returned to China, their individual freedom and rights will be barred by the government.

Within domestic, village to city migration is very prominent. Millions of people with lower income groups in the remote areas are settling in the cities and also are moving to the western regions, i.e. Tibet and East Turkistan (Xinjiang), in search of economic prosperity and opportunities. The Chinese governmental development plan in the western region along with incentives and facilities pave a way for migrants to move at the greater pace, which drastically change the demographic pattern of the region.

Here are some of my observations which resulted from the 'Go West' program:

Brain Drain or Brain Makers

Millions of Chinese professionals, intellectuals and students are settling in the western countries, and it creates a concern for the Chinese officials with possible brain drain. Few movements at the Governmental level and within the public domain has been started to recall the Chinese emigrants to return to China, such like 'Thousand Talents Program' and 'Hai Gui: The sea turtles come Marching Home'. The return of Chinese students from the foreign universities are expected to be less than half of those who opted for overseas studies.12 Irrespective of being non returnees, it is not to underestimate the roles of those 'huaqiao' who are actively engaged in making China proud. During the Olympic torch relay, thousands of Chinese greeted the torchbearers all along the ways in all over the countries, which significantly shows the strong sentiments within these Chinese emigrants. The pride of being Chinese remain deeply rooted, irrespective of whether one favors Communist party or not. Along with the government established Confucius Schools and institutions in the west, and the existence of smelly streets of China town in every cities, the Chinese emigrants are contributing no less to the rise of China's soft power in the world.

After the collapse of Soviet Union and with the globalization of 'Opening its door' to the outside World, China has molded its policy in a favorable turn to avoid such a similar fate of Soviet Union. Such timely and innovative doctrines like 'Four Modernization' and 'Three Represents' involves many western educated Chinese to contribute in shaping the present day China. These 'huaqiao' are inevitably part of rise of China in the international politics. Espionage and intellectual Property theft are some of the issues, which I rather not discuss here but it is one of the concerning issues with Chinese emigrants.

Expansionist Move: Using soft power

Within China, migrants and the cadres poised a threat to the regional cultures, livelihood and sustenance. Unemployment and inflation are visibly prominent with the immigrants controlling the economy leaving the indigenous people under misery. The development plan in the disputed western parts of China is just a tool to integrate and unified China into one giant China.

The awakening of sleeping dragon, at present moment has limited territorial expansion, except for some disputes over Spratly Island and the northern belt of India. The modern day imperialism of China is dictated by expanding their economic and diplomatic ties with other sovereign states. China has so far successfully engaged with many nations, which are doing businesses with China. In such business activities, population transfer is vital so to remain in stake on the other nations. China, as the world largest energy consumer, the export of energy enhanced more active responsibility in the international diplomacy. However, China still retains ties with Myanmar, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Sudan, which are supposedly considered rogue states. The purchase of energy companies in various countries, establishment of different Chinese traditional institutes, holding of International events and sports, and opening up to the foreign investors are all decors of the Communist Regime.

Economic contribution:

China, being a manufacturing country and the world largest exporter demand innovation and market. China towns are flashed with these cheap 'Made in China' goods and even the edibles like fish has made their entrance to the west. The return of the 100,000 experienced business executives will bring $ 4 billion USD. Not only it converge human resource capital, but also experience, exposure, a relationship network and strong financial support.13

It is apparent that with 45 million overseas Chinese, many have families, friends and acquaintances living in Mainland China. Just like Chinese settlers in Tibet and Xinjiang, who occasionally visit their hometown with their annual savings, Huaqiao’s being economically more viable, would send capitals to Mainland China. Thus, ‘Go West’ plan increase China’s foreign direct investment.


China, the rising power of Asia is moving forward not only on manufacturing and hardware units but also on software, nuclear and contemporary warfare techniques. China is one of the main stakeholders of world economy, closely surpassing Japan as the second largest economy. Though still a developing nation, China is assuming a lead role in the mainstream international politics bending on their shrewd national interest. Copenhagen summit is such a platform where China shows its guts and might to restrain other developed nations from dictating the world.

In the domestic level, Tibet ‘Treasure House of West’ which resembles ‘America’s golden West’ procure a gargantuan revenue to CCP. And in the International arena, Chinese intellectuals, entrepreneurs, scientists, students, and other huaqiaos immensely contribute to the rise of China.

China, the most populous country has many societal problems, grudges, complaints, calamities and revolts, but the Chinese Communist Party survived to retain the leadership for the past six decades. It is with the support and the strength of educated people who led the Chinese government to change the system on a timely basis. If the Mao’ Communist remain unchanged in China, much more chaos and problems might have happened. It is Deng’s ‘Communist in their own character’ helped CCP survive and channeled to rise above other nations in economic, diplomatic and military influence. In this case of stability and unity, the core agenda of the CCP, ‘Go West’ initiative helps vastly in attaining such a height.

The challenges, which the Chinese government face with this ‘Go West’ program is that of Communism ideology mixed with capitalism, rampant corruption, economic gap and development plans focused on stability and unity.

In Tibet and Xinjiang, excessive exploitation of resources, annihilation of local cultures, traditions, language, livelihood, discriminations and widespread unemployment as a result of ‘Western Development Project’, if uncheck, will cause unrest in China and thus bring much embarrassment to China.

CCP needs to abide by the norms of International rules, regulating and changing their laws for the wellbeing of Chinese people, whereby giving more access to human rights and democracy. If CCP works on rigid policy of contemning liberal values and ideas, then it will detach Chinese emigrants and become an obstruction for the development of China. International communities will also refrain Chinese emigrants to enter into their soils.

So, it is in the hand of CCP to maintain the links of more than 45 million overseas huaqiao to contribute for the rise of China.


1) Tibet under Communist China: 50 Years, Department of Information and International Relations, 2001, pp. 2

2) Legal Materials of Tibet, Tibet Justice Center, 1997, pp. 182

3) State employees in Tibet earn highest after Shanghai, Beijing, July 30, 2010

4) Train 27, Now Arriving Tibet, in a 'Great Leap West', The Washington Post, July 04, 2006 and Tibetan Pride High on Railway Project,, May 25, 2004

5) China's then-President Jiang Zemin in 2001: "Some people advised me not to go ahead with this project because it is not commercially viable. I said, this is a political decision." New York Times, August 10, 2001

6) Tibet sees record number of tourists in August, China Tibet Online, September 12, 2009 and Tibet sets July tourist record, August 16, 2009

7) Population Statistics and Demographic, Asian Nation

8) China's Brain Drain Dilemma: Elite Emigration, by Willy Lam, China Brief, Vol. 10 Issue 16

9) The new Chinese Immigration to Japan, by Helene Le Bail, China Perspectives, 2005

10) China and Africa: Stronger Economic Ties mean more migration, by Malia Politze, Migration Information Source, August 2008

11) China's Brain Drain Dilemma: Elite Emigration, by Willy Lam, China Brief, Vol. 10 Issue 16

12) Hai Gui: The sea turtles come Marching Home

13) ibid


  1. Wow....Great mind at work......Inspirational n thinking of putting my mind to work as well.....Sad that am seeing this blog for the first time though its been there for a while...this is called "Communication gap" or "being uninformed"...We have the platform but don't find it or for people like me, introverts generally lay behind....Know its completely ones own responsibility to be up to date..... but is there a harm for people who know to just let others know as well.......?
    Great Job n Cheers to you n Nyinjey....

  2. very true lekshay la, it's high time or the CCP to start bending it's rigid pose over basic human rights and international will provide further stamina to survive their face in Interrnational arena for much longer, though in the end they've to shut down, it's basic law of nature.