A Chinese migrant who is about to become the father of two Australian girls has told The Standard he would like to change the concept of what it means to be Australian.
Jia Wang is one of many permanent migrants, now Australian citizens, who have voiced fears that their children will lose touch with their Chinese cultural heritage.
While happy to have become an Australian citizen, Wang remains very proud of his Chinese heritage and wants his children to be also. Wang, who was born in China where he met his wife, said he believed it was important for children to have a strong understanding of their background.
But he did not see this as conflicting with the sense they should have of “feeling Australian”.
Wang said that as first-generation Australians his daughters should know about their heritage: “I would like them to really understand and love Chinese culture.”
He said he found it offensive when people implied he needed to “let go of my Chinese traditions to become a true Aussie”, and rejected the suggestion that trying to preserve Chinese culture was somehow “un-Australian”.
How could that be? he asked. “After all, aren’t all non-indigenous people in this country technically foreigners?”
The attitude that migrants should relinquish their old culture was inconsistent with the vision of a multicultural society promoted by Australia, and Wang said he would like to change this false concept of what it meant to be Australian.
Both Chinese and Australian cultures had good and bad aspects, he added, but “every culture has its strengths that should be used to our advantage”.
The Wangs plan to teach their children Mandarin as well as English, in the belief that bilingualism lays a strong foundation on which to build a truly multicultural society.
Wang said that for him the “great Australian dream” was to raise his children in a society that was accepting of all cultures and recognised the power of diversity to bring people together.