Overseas Chinese distribution


At present, the total number of overseas Chinese is about 45.43 million. In the past 30 years, the overseas Chinese community has developed unique attributes. They can be characterized in the following ways: Firstly, the overseas Chinese community is increasing in number and rapidly improving in education and income. In recent years, the large increase of new immigrants from China, including Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, coupled with the natural growth of the original overseas Chinese population lead to an increase in the number of overseas Chinese. Compared with traditional immigrants, new immigrants' education and economic strength has greatly improved. Nearly one-third of new immigrants are students with family dependents from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Chinese mainland. This differs with traditional immigrants who were mostly farmers.

Secondly, the distribution of overseas Chinese is changing. They are no longer highly concentrated in Southeast Asia as in the past. The proportion of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia has dropped to about 73 percent of the total. In North America, the number is about 5.3 million, accounting for nearly 12 percent. Europe has over two million, accounting for nearly 5 percent of the overall number in 2007. Their settlements can be found around the globe; in particular, many settlements have emerged in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

In Chinese mainland, immigrants after the reform and opening-up policy are referred to as “new immigrants”. Southeast Asia is not the top priority in the new upsurge of immigration in China. Since reform and opening-up until the mid-1990s, developed countries were the main destinations. With developed countries’ increasingly stringent restrictions on immigration and the rapid progress of trade relations between China and other developing countries after the mid-1990s, more and more Chinese businessmen went to developing countries to seek business opportunities and settled down. The motivation, education, financial capacity, occupation and settlement of these new immigrants are quite different from traditional ones. The new immigrants are highly educated and have wealth and great mobility. They hail from all over China. A large proportion of immigrants from the mainland are elites or elite-to-be. New immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan also have advanced degrees. Their motive for immigration is not survival, but development. Based on the purpose, approach and occupational structure of Chinese immigrants, they can be roughly divided into four types. The first kind includes students. The second group includes non-skilled laborers whose main reason for immigration is to reunify with family. Some of these laborers use illegal methods to settle abroad. The third group includes business immigrants, including immigrants seeking to make investments, overseas businessmen and all kinds of traders. The last group consists of a small proportion of exported labor living in various localities. The number of new immigrants in China reached 9.58 million in 2008. Among them, about 1.6 - 1.7 million are from Hong Kong and Taiwan and over 8 million are from mainland China.

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