Moving Truths: Meng Yao

The Moving Truths series showcases pieces of writing by Faculty of Arts students on the topic of Global Migration.

In 2019, the Faculty of Arts ran a writing competition related to ‘Hard Truths’, an exhibition of prize-winning photography from The New York Times. Students wrote creative and journalistic pieces responding to the following questions: 'What has your life experience and the experience of those around you taught you about global migration? What needs to change?' Moving Truths, a new online series, showcases student entries from the competition, alongside profiles of each student author. Explore Moving Truths to learn more about our global community and discover the powerful stories our students have to tell.

Bachelor of Arts graduate Meng Yao submitted a piece called "Global Migration: Wellbeing, not just dollar signs." In it, he argues that caring for people's mental and social wellbeing needs to form a bigger part of immigration policy. Get to know a bit more about Meng below, and scroll down to read his competition entry.

Five Quick Questions with Meng

Author Meng Yao is pictured

Where would you like to travel? "Galapagos, I would like to see those rare and amazing creatures."

Of the places you've lived, which is your favourite? "Hobart, I love the tranquillity and nature because they help me to reason."

Who or what inspires you? "The stories of creative and great people which are not under the media spotlight."

What are you studying or working on right now? "I am doing my practical legal training course and trading stocks."

How are you coping during the COVID-19 lockdown? "With my dogs and parrots at home, I never get bored."

Thanks Meng!

"Global Migration: Wellbeing, not just dollar signs" by Meng Yao

In an era when national economic and political development is inevitably intertwined with international developments, global migration plays a key role in facilitating the growth of a country. My personal experience as a Chinese international student in Australia has taught me one thing: when a country takes overseas migrants, this measure should not serve that country’s economic development at the expense of the social development of both migrants and local residents.

Social development requires a country to take an active role in improving the wellbeing of a person, creating equal opportunities for every individual, so that everyone can pursue their ideal life with dignity and confidence. Social development is fundamental because it provides benefits both to the migrant and the country, and upholds a person’s fundamental rights to a good life. Governments should prioritise this development over other considerations.

However, since social development as an ultimate goal is often unquantifiable, it tends to be ignored by governments implementing immigration policy. Instead, governments tend to over-emphasise the economic impact brought by migrants. Two examples of the prioritisation of economic impact are 1) the idea of property prices arising sharply as a result of migrant investment, and 2) the idea of moving migrants to less-developed areas to balance regional developmental inequality. The former measure aims to stimulate the local economy through attracting foreign capital, but causes other social problems such as unaffordable housing for local residents. The latter tries to develop the economy in less developed areas, but the lack of resources and support in those areas make it hard for new migrants to pursue a quality standard of living.

People may argue that there is an inevitable tension between the interests of migrants and local people, and that appeasing one group will come at the detriment of the other. However, this is not necessarily true. In a globalised world, the mobility of capital and human labour will always create new opportunities for people. One source of tension could be the misplacement of new migrants, whereby skilled migrants are not given the chance to implement their skills and realise their full potential. This causes these skilled migrants to flow into labour markets which are already saturated, increasing competition in the job market. If governments ensure that they take an appropriate number of migrants and enable them to employ their skills efficiently in the market, this tension will not necessarily be there.

My piece provides a suggestion, rather than a solution. An appropriate measure on intaking migrants is a very hard question and one that requires reference to an almost-unending number of considerations. However, focusing on allowing all people that live in one’s country an opportunity to live in a good life should be a prime consideration, as it preserves an individual’s fundamental rights and mitigates unnecessary tension between local residents and new migrants.