Daigou Business Between Australia and China: A New Form of Transnational Economic and Social Linkage

Dr. Xuchun Liu3

3University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

Remittances, trade and investment are dominant forms of transnational economic linkage in the diaspora-development discourse. Daigou business, an e-commerce based international trade through which Chinese diasporas purchase goods on behalf of Chinese customers, has grown rapidly in recent years. This paper analyses the characteristics, operational processes and policy implications of Daigou business from a transnational perspective. The analysis is based on a unique database containing records of over two million parcels sent from Australia to China and 20 in-depth interviews with Australia-based Chinese Daigou agents. The study finds that Daigou is not merely a ‘grassroots’ economic activity but serves as a transnational social space: transferring money and goods coexists with communicating and exchanging social norms, values and lifestyles between countries; economic linkages and socio-cultural linkages interact with one another; Daigou business, characterised as ‘transnationalism from below’ (shaped by Chinese diaspora), often conflicts with China’s national trade regulations and diaspora policies that reflect ‘transnationalism from above’ (devised by governments to run business and engage diasporas at a distance in favour of political, economic, and social dominance by existing elites). Increased understandings of the complexity and dynamics of transnational linkages involved in Daigou business have important policy implications for China and Australia.


Xuchun Liu is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Geography, Environment and Population at the University of Adelaide. Her research focuses on environmental migration, migration policy analysis, transnationalism and the migration-development nexus.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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