I first began working on migration when I set up Hua Dan in 2004. China is currently undergoing the world’s biggest mass migration the world has ever known with over 227 million rural dwellers migrating into the cities in search of jobs in construction, factories and the service industries. Chinese migrant workers are, quite literally, building the new China, whilst supporting the rapid globalisation of products and services across the globe. This globalisation is both a cost and an opportunity. A cost in terms of the toll migration places on personal and family lives, the breakdown of traditional societies, legislation that cannot keep up with the demands of this new work force and the ensuing social and legal challenges it brings in its wake. Yet opportunities abound for individuals and their communities to develop more inclusive, open narratives about the world, lift themselves up the value chain and creating new sources of economic prosperity and social growth.
In Europe and North America, migration has become a sensitive political issue with the wave of refugees fleeing war torn countries at the same time as the region suffers from economic stagnation. Governments and their people face a moral imperative to address the humanitarian concerns of these populations whilst also managing growing internal wealth gaps and ensuring they can build societies that truly empower each one of it’s members.
I strongly believe that migration is a positive force for the world, enabling individuals to move between worlds, sharing cultures and bringing new ways of thinking and doing to their communities. Yet we have yet to truly harness this growing phenomenon in a way that is indeed inclusive of all, whilst helping to address the challenges that economic globalisation causes. Truly, we need to define a politics based on love not fear.