Trump’s anti-immigration stance has fueled a racist tide in Canada. While targeting Muslims, it also sideswipes Chinese. A stereotype has existed for years that recent Chinese immigrants, unlike their European counterparts, lack the desire to integrate into the English Canada, hesitate to speak English and choose to segregate themselves into ethnic enclaves – such as Markham in GTA or Richmond in B.C. The perceived isolation of Asian Canadians deemed a threat to Canada’s economy and the multicultural society.
While the stereotype represents some values of truth, it hardly reflects the whole reality, providing only a biased view towards the Chinese community. Indeed, Chinese people encounter greater language barriers than other ethnic races in adapting new life in Canada, but their talents, ambition, and aspiration for economic success have made up for their language deficiency, allowing them to become significant contributors to the Canadian economy.
Many Chinese people do not intentionally isolate themselves, and they are willing to reach out to other ethnic races and integrate into the mainstream society. But language barrier seems a significant obstacle to the goal, preventing them from breaking out of the enclaves and embracing multiculturalism.
From a linguistic perspective, Chinese and East Asians face far more severe language barriers than Europeans to learn English as a second language. English and European languages belong to the same language family that shares a common root and many striking similarities, wherea East Asian languages are members of an entirely different language system. With a natural advantage, European speakers can pick up English faster and with much fewer difficulties than East Asian language speakers.
However, language barriers have never prevented recent immigrants from China to become valued players in the Canadian economy over a long run. Despite research indicating that immigrants since 2006 – with a significant portion of them being Chinese immigrants seem not performing economically as well as the European counterparts from earlier cohorts -- with lower earning capacity and a higher unemployment rate, their employment success would dramatically improve once they have been here for over ten years of longer. Their median income is in line with the national level, according to StatsCan.
These immigrants have also brought their heritage strengths to the table. Harmony and peace are the core to the Chinese tradition, and violence and crime have found no place in Chinese culture. Chinese culture also values education, with a significant portion of the second generation of immigrants acquiring post-secondary education, allowing them to make more positive outcomes to the economy. Substance abuse is less common among Chinese community members, and their financial prudence and frugality have steered them away from overspending – a new negative norm in the mainstream society. You would rarely see a Chinese family in financial crisis, crying foul because they cannot afford the next rent.
In a recent speech by US President Donald Trump, he points to Canada’s merit-based immigration system – which recruited a significant portion of recent Chinese immigrants, as a model for US immigration reform. It serves as another proof of Chinese immigrants’ success, disputing the stereotype that they are an economic burden to the society and failure of the immigration system.
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