“What happens when 120,000 millionaires move to your city?”
That’s the question posed by Australia’s SBS Dateline in their current affairs feature “China’s Millionaire Migration.”
Without judgement, the fascinating 23-minute documentary takes an in-depth look at the phenomenon that has overtaken Vancouver as millionaires from Mainland China have made the small city their home.
It’s all about the money
Featuring big in the special are the stars of reality TV show Ultra Rich Asian Girls, produced in Vancouver by 1st generation Chinese-Canadian Kevin Li, whose parents immigrated to Vancouver from Hong Hong in the 1970s.
In the past, Li’s work has focused on the local Chinese heritage, and now with Ultra Rich Asian Girl’s, one could say he’s simply reflecting what is happening in the here and now- regardless of whether people like the show or not. And many people can’t stand it.
In fact, Li tells Dateline that people in Mainland China hate it.
“The news hates it, everybody hates it there, but they love talking about it and they’ll continue to watch it so they’ll find something to hate about it.”
Nothing to do with race
A journalist for the South China Morning Post who has covered the housing crisis extensively in Vancouver is Ian Young.
In his interview for the Dateline feature, he tells producer Arron Thomas that the affordability crisis is not an issue about race, but an issue about wealth.
“It doesn’t really matter whether the buyers in Vancouver are Chinese or non-Chinese, or immigrants or non-immigrants. What matters is whether or not they are earning domestically, and that’s what fuels unaffordability.”
A cultural disconnect
Dateline also takes a look at Vancouver’s fading Chinatown, and the cultural disconnect between the new Mainland immigrants and the tradition and history that Chinatown represents for many of Vancouver’s Canadian citizens of Chinese descent.
In an interview with second generation Danny Quon, who teaches traditional dragon dancing, he tells Dateline the new generation of Mainland Chinese migrants are not interested in the area, nor any of the traditional cultural practices.
“Chinese Mainland immigrants today seem to focus on only the trappings of wealth…and that’s not to say there’s anything wrong with that, but when it comes to connecting with their own culture and heritage, I’d be surprised to find any…at least the ones who I’ve met..any who are in tune with their own culture.”
Quon’s observations only seem to emphasize Young’s view that it’s not a racial issue Vancouver is dealing with, but more of a cultural divide precipitated by extreme wealth and a generational shift.