Visible/Invisible: Chinese Diaspora in the Republic of Ireland
Wang, Ying Yun
Department of Sociology Trinity College Dulbin, Republic of Ireland
The different experiences and hybrid identities of the different waves of Chinese migrants in the Republic of Ireland are problematised in this paper. It focused particularly the pre-Celtic Tiger and the post-Celtic Tiger waves of Chinese migration. Ireland only became a country of net immigration after the unprecedented economic boom of the Celtic Tiger in the mid-1990s. Even though Ireland is not a country for Chinese migration traditionally, Chinese migrants were already a significant presence pre-Celtic Tiger (approximately 1000 Chinese migrants in 1986). In the late 1950s and early 60s, earlier Chinese migrants moved to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland and UK, mostly originating from Hong Kong. The population of Chinese migrants increased significantly in 2001 onwards (some estimates were of 5816 Chinese migrants in 2006 from 1493 in 2000). Most of those Chinese migrants came directly from mainland China.
Chinese migrants in Ireland are not a homogeneous group and are diversified in relations to age, gender, place of origins in China (urban or rural setting), occupation and their legal status. Even though Chinese migrants are numerically a significant presence, the 2006 Census indicated that the Chinese were the fourth largest ethnicity minority group after the Polish, the Lithuanian and the Nigerian. The Chinese migrants remain an invisible group as they are largely homogenized. There are only four official Chinese migrants-oriented reports from various NGOs so far which were all published after 2002. The Chinese students are those reports´ main research target, while there is little attention on earlier Chinese migrants and the Chinese migrant workers. However, the Chinese migrants have been set up as "multicultural representations" during the Chinese New Year Celebration by the Dublin City Council in 2007 and 2008.
This paper will also consider how the different waves/groups of Chinese migrants have different phases of setting down in Ireland and they have different sense of belonging in relation to both China and Ireland. This is what I theorise as a "Chinese Diaspora in Ireland" because the Diaspora is a journey of "setting down and putting roots elsewhere" which cross the "geographical and mental borders".