2015/08/31 Leave a comment
Political differences among the Cantonese and Mandarin speaking Chinese Canadians:
The battle for votes in Vancouver’s large Chinese community is being complicated by deep divisions over immigration issues here and across the Pacific in Hong Kong.
Chinese-language radio talk-show hosts say callers are more worked up than ever about the federal election.
And their support seems largely determined by where they came from in China and their attitude toward tougher immigration rules introduced by the federal government since the 2011 election.
Cantonese-speakers, mainly people from Hong Kong and southern parts of Mainland China, tend to be staunch Conservative supporters.
But for Mandarin-speakers, from northern China and Taiwan, new immigration rules have become the focus of opposition to Stephen Harper’s party.
Gordon Houlden of the University of Alberta’s China Institute said the link between issues in China and Canada is not entirely unexpected, but still fascinating. I
t’s a reminder that the Chinese community isn’t as monolithic as outsiders assume, he said.
New immigration rules focus more on skill set and education than family reunification, he said, so it makes sense that Mandarin speakers would be upset about the changes. The changes reduce the opportunity for relatives to join family members already in Canada.
On the other hand, the Cantonese community may support tougher immigration rules because it tends to be older and more established.
“If you’ve been here longer and you’re more settled, you may not welcome a wave of people who are similar in some ways, but different in others,” he said.
Houlden said protests in Hong Kong last year over Beijing’s refusal to allow open elections may have added to the divisions between the two groups.
Chen, who is originally from Taiwan, said that Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese immigrants who call in generally also voice opposition to Harper.
“We have the free election right in Taiwan, so we don’t like the government staying too long,” Chen said. “The Conservatives kept power over 10 years, so some Taiwanese people think it’s time to change.”