China biggest source of migrants to Australia
China has overtaken the UK to become Australia's biggest source of migrants in an historic shift that underlines the strengthening ties between the two Asia Pacific nations.
Migrants from China jumped a fifth to nearly 30,000 out of Australia's total annual intake of 168,685, according to government figures published on Wednesday.
The rise comes at a time when Australia is grappling with skilled worker shortages, especially in its booming mining and energy industries that are investing record sums to meet China's demands for commodities and fuel. China is Australia's biggest two-way trading partner.
Australia's jobless rate has flat-lined this year at about 4.9 per cent, considered close to full employment, and the government has forecast it will fall to 4.5 per cent in 2013.
The greater migrant numbers from China helped offset the continued decline from the UK, where numbers fell for a fifth straight year to slightly less than 24,000. India, now Australia's third biggest migrant source, has also declined in recent years and fell 6 per cent to 21,768.
Australia's image in India was tarnished by a string of brutal Indian student bashings in 2009, while Canberra has also cracked down on disreputable vocational education schools that were temporarily used by foreign students, including those from India, to attain working visas.
Chris Bowen, the Australian immigration minister, said the bulk of the new arrivals in the 2010-11 migration programme were skilled workers.
“Skilled migrants deliver significant benefits … as their employment contributes to economic growth and their relative youth offsets some of the impacts of the ageing labour force,” he said.
Mr Bowen is locked in a legal battle over Canberra's plan to deport 800 asylum seekers entering Australian waters illegally by boat to Malaysia in exchange for 4,000 of its refugees.
The top occupations in the skilled migrants stream were accountants, computing professionals, cooks and registered nurses.
A factory in rural Georgia helps East Asia eat
Aug 13th 2011 | AMERICUS | from the print edition
ASK someone to write down all the differences between China and rural Georgia and his hand will fall off before he’s halfway done. So let us restrict ourselves to the vista: cranes, skyscrapers, spanking new rail networks and smog: China. Barbecue restaurants, red clay and trees: Georgia. And whereas most rural Georgians are surviving quite well, thank you, without skyscrapers and subways, Chinese diners, who go through billions of disposable wooden chopsticks each year, could use a few more trees.
Enter Georgia Chopsticks. Jae Lee, a former scrap-metal exporter, saw an opportunity and began turning out chopsticks for the Chinese market late last year. He and his co-owner, David Hughes, make their chopsticks from poplar and sweet-gum trees, which have the requisite flexibility and toughness, and are abundant throughout Georgia.
In May Georgia Chopsticks moved to larger premises in Americus, a location that offered room to grow, inexpensive facilities and a willing workforce. Sumter County, of which Americus is the seat, has an unemployment rate of more than 12%. Georgia Chopsticks now employs 81 people turning out 2m chopsticks a day. By year’s end Mr Lee and Mr Hughes hope to increase their workforce to 150, and dream of building a “manufacturing incubator” to help foreign firms take advantage of Georgia’s workforce and raw materials.
But that is some way off. For now Messrs Lee and Hughes, and their workers, keep busy shearing, steaming, shaving, cutting and drying huge logs into rough chopsticks. They still need to be finished—to eat with a pair of Georgia Chopsticks right off the Americus line you would need tweezers in your other hand and a high pain tolerance. For that they are shipped via the Port of Savannah to China (later this year they will start sending them to Korea and Japan) in boxes with a rare and prestigious stamp: Made in the USA.