Australia and New Zealand Must Be Ready for the Next Wave of Refugees

In 1989, as stunned as the rest of us at the brutality of the Chinese government’s crackdown on the democracy activists in Tiananmen, then-prime minister Bob Hawke tearfully announced that all Chinese students then in Australia could stay. Almost all did.

It was a grandiose, knee-jerk response typical of Hawke, and of a certain kind of politician. In the long run, unlike many other such knee-jerks, its outcomes were almost entirely positive. Either way, it cannot be denied that it changed the face of modern Australia.

Now, even bigger changes loom on the horizon.

All Australians need to understand that that we are going to be an integral part of the “end game” in Hong Kong.

The world has been astonished at the sheer numbers protesting at Beijing’s encroachment on the freedoms of the former British territory. Millions have filled Hong Kong’s streets.

If we were stunned, just imagine what the reaction must have been among the inner circle of rulers who surround China’s President Xi Jinping.

My China-following friends say that almost certainly those at the top in China will have made two decisions — first, this is a dispute that they must win…

And second, that 2019 is the wrong time to implement the long-term plan. President Xi is about to go to North Korea and there will never be a better time to do a trade deal with the US because President Donald Trump wants a deal as part of his re-election campaign.

China thinks long-term and so must Australia.

Beijing is unlikely to openly send in the tanks and paratroopers this time – although nothing from the communist regime should be taken for granted – but Hong Kongers can be in no doubt that they are on borrowed time.

Like President Xi they will be preparing their own long-term strategies. Some will set their goal on going to the US and Canada. But most will look Down Under.

Many will study our rules and do everything they can to have an Australian residence where they can retreat to when China makes a push to take control of Hong Kong.

But most likely the majority will seek to come here (or the US and Canada) without advance strategic planning.

Many years ago, I worked with a Chinese fellow. Eventually, he snagged a new and better job, representing an Australian firm in mainland China. But before he left, he made sure to get his Australian citizenship in order. Call it an insurance policy.

I’ve no doubt many Hong Kongers are working on their own insurance policies. Australia – and by extension, New Zealand – need to start planning, too.

Hong Kong residents who understand the challenge the territory faces and who have sufficient capital will seek to buy real estate in Australia or Canada. They want somewhere to go should the going in Hong Kong get too tough.

Beijing may clamp down on money leaving Hong Kong or they might even encourage the affluent citizens of Hong Kong to have a way of leaving…Meanwhile the debate over migration is set to take on a new dimension.


The COL made a lot of noise about banning “foreigners” (read, “Chinese”) from purchasing property and investing in New Zealand. The egregious failure of Kiwibuild has done nothing to ease New Zealand’s housing problem. How are they going to deal with an exodus of Hong Kong Chinese? How long will Ardern keep peddling her empty rhetoric about refugees?

But, there are refugees and refugees. Contrary to leftist mythology, surveys repeatedly show that the majority of Australians are positive about immigrants and lawfully-arrived refugees. Australians, and New Zealanders, are ready to welcome those who respect our laws and want to give it a fair go. Wherever they’ve settled, the Chinese diaspora have been hard-working, diligent and successful.

Just the sort of refugees some on the left don’t want.