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  • Dr Liangni Liu Delivers Talk at the History Department

    25/05/2017 - The New Zealand Centre at Peking University hosted Dr Sally Liangni Liu as a Visiting Fellow from the School of Humanities, Massey University, New Zealand. During her visit, Dr Liu presented a seminar, entitled ‘New Chinese Migrants from China to New Zealand: Policies, Pathways, and Perception’.

    Dr Sally Liangni Liu from the School of Humanities, Massey University, New Zealand visited Peking University as a Visiting Fellow of The New Zealand Centre at Peking University from 21 to 27 May. She was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (2013-2015), and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Research Office, Auckland University of Technology (2011-2013). Her department host is Professor Wu Xiaoan, a well-known scholar on Southeast Asian History and an expert on the study of Chinese Overseas. During her visit, Dr Liu had an opportunity interacting with both the faculty and the students at the History Department. She also delivered a seminar to the students interested in her research entitled: “New Chinese Migrants from China to New Zealand: Policies, Pathways, and Perception”.

    Dr Liangni Li with host Professor Xiaoan Wu and students after the seminar.

    Dr Liu opened her lecture by briefly discussing a few salient statistics. Chinese descent New Zealanders (‘huaren’) represent approximately 4% of the population. 70% of huaren live in Auckland, an urban city with 12% of its population being Asian. About one half of huaren were born in mainland China, and the vast majority of these migrates arrived in the last 15 years.

    Dr Liu also explored the evolution of New Zealand’s immigration policy since 1987. In 1987 New Zealand immigration policy went through radical reform moving from an Anglo-centric race based programme to a neo-liberal programme focused on skills and investment. The change represented a shift away from Europe and towards Asia as well as recognition of the need to attract skilled workers to remain competitive. Throughout the nineties, the system was tightened and relaxed, Ms. Liu described it as politicised and reactionary. A new selection system was introduced in 2003. The last few years have seen very high levels of migration leading to restrictions in several categories. In 2016, the skilled migrant and parent categories were tightened. In 2017, the essential skills category was tightened.

    Finally, Dr Liu discussed transnationalism and Chinese migration. The new wave of Chinese migrants is far more mobile than older generations with long term absence levels around 20%, approximately the same level as Dutch migrants. Of those migrants who are absent, most are heading back to China or moving to Australia. Dr Liu argues that transnational Chinese migrants are spending different periods of their life in different states. New Zealand offers lifestyle, education and retirement opportunities. Whereas Australia offers economic opportunities (or at least it did historically) and China can offer familiarity, and increasingly education. Transnationalism is posing challenges to traditional family structures with different generations within the same family living in different countries. Dr Liu’s seminar was well attended and enjoyed a very positive reception.

    Dr Sally Liangni Liu delivered her seminar as part of a Visiting Fellowship with the New Zealand Centre at Peking University. If you are a member of the academic staff from any of our eight partner institutions and you are interested in attending a fellowship at Peking University, get in touch with our liaison officers to learn more about the application process. Visiting fellowships for New Zealand academics are held year-round at Peking University, across a broad range of departments, forming a significant contribution to the advancement of academic exchange between China and New Zealand.


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