Mr Nathan Gardner1
1The University Of Melbourne, , Australia
Four years after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, some 40,000 Chinese students, familiarly termed ‘89ers’, were granted permanent residency by the Keating Government after a protracted political and legal campaign—resulting in Australia’s largest single intake of individuals seeking asylum ever. As Jia Gao’s research into the 89ers’ organisation and campaigning suggested, established Chinese Australian community organisations played an important role; but not all groups and not at all times. This paper draws upon archival ephemera, Chinese and English language media and various interview materials to delve into the ways established Chinese Australian communities responded to both the 89ers’ campaign to stay in Australia, as well as to their responses to ‘June 4’ itself. While some community organisations played an important role in the students’ political campaign to stay in Australia and their incorporation into Australian society, others showed indifference or even opposition. The responses of many community organisations to the events culminating on June 4 were also at times surprising. In this paper, I explore the histories, compositions and objectives of different communities as drivers of the different responses undertaken by these organisations before offering some interpretations of these responses vis-à-vis Chinese, Australian and Chinese Australian identities and belongings.
Nathan is currently completing his PhD at the University of Melbourne as the inaugural recipient of the Hansen Trust PhD Scholarship in History. His current research into Chinese Australian community organisations and their responses to issues in Australia’s recent history reflects his broader research interests in migration, mobility and multiculturalism.