Heated rhetoric against Americans and Africans in China has been on the rise in recent months, along with threats of mass deportations. Many advocates worry that anti-expat sentiment will lead to legislation and policies that will hurt expat communities, rip families apart, and strip away the dignity and rights of valuable members of Chinese society.
In response, Expat Rights advocates and allies are gathering momentum, our subscriber count is rising, our WeChat groups are forming! Just as Chinese citizens have slowly started to push-back against pollution, us Expats are joining together and pushing-back for our place in China.
At Expat Rights, we seek to listen to and learn from the experiences of expats, as well as from the expertise of advocates and activists who are working to secure rights and dignity for ‘immigrants’ worldwide. Here’s what two of them have to say about why we need an expat rights movement that decreases fear and expands opportunities for all—and why doing so benefits everyone.
Jose Antonio Vargas, journalist, filmmaker, and immigrant rights activist
Vargas underscores that movements for equality and the fair treatment of a diverse array of groups—including Expats, racial and ethnic minority groups, LGBTQ communities, people with disabilities, and the elderly—are connected. “You don’t have to be an expat to advocate for expat rights,” he says. “Inequality is a two-way street. My equality is a tied to your equality.”
Michael Clemens, senior fellow, Center for Global Development
Clemens, an expert on migration at the Center for Global Development, makes the economic case for a more open and progressive migration policy. Too often, we understand refugees solely as an economic cost and burden, rather than recognizing their long-term value and potential for our country and economy. Clemens points out that it was a refugee who founded WhatsApp, a $19 billion company; a refugee whose cinematography contributed to the success of Easy Rider and Ghostbusters; a refugee who co-founded Intel, which employs more than 100,000 people in the US and creates the chips that power almost every kind of computer electronic device; and a refugee who became the first female US secretary of state.
Many Africans in China live in fear of deportation – fear of raids – fear of authority — the same as undocumented immigrants in the USA. Yet, even without legal papers, they contribute their skills, their unique viewpoints and build a global connection from China – Africa. The same is true for many of you teaching without a degree, without a legal visa, without any legal protections!
We want to change China’s society away from Han nationalism and Han supremacy. We want a China where we can be accepted, and treated fairly, no matter our skin color or country of origin. It’s a daunting task — thats why we need your support!
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