Provisional Business Migrants to Western Australia, Social Media and Conditional Belonging
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Reformed in 2012, Australia’s business migration program was reduced from a confusing array of 13 visa subclasses to three, then, four when the Investor Retirement visa was later added. This chapter examines the case of 188V provisional business migrants from China to Western Australia, who generally have four years to work towards and apply for permanent residence. Split into a two-step process, the lengthy transition from temporary to permanent residence means that return to China is an ever-present possibility for 188V migrants. Given that reports on Chinese migration cite security—the surety that comes with strong rule of law, reliable food sources, environmental safety and a sound education—as the main motivations that drive migrants to trade a Chinese home for another, their provisional status places 188V migrants in a quandary. This chapter argues that such incertitude gives rise to a sense of conditional belonging, to which provisional business migrants respond with everyday acts and practices enacted via social media. Seemingly ubiquitous across Chinese-speaking societies, Chinese social media allow 188V migrants to transnationalize some part of the many forms of capital they possess to effect in Australia. Drawing on interviews with current 188V migrants to Western Australia, this chapter seeks to understand how they use the connectivity afforded by Chinese social media to aid in their grasp and navigation of the different economic, socio-cultural and political spaces of Australia vis-à-vis China. It also sheds light on the everyday strategies and practices they develop in the lived experience of conditional belonging.
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