About Us

Country profile - China

The People’s Republic of China (China) has implemented several economic reforms in 2014, including allowing local governments to issue bonds, opening state-owned enterprises to private investment, and reducing administrative red tape. China has enjoyed a sustained period of economic expansion, with gross domestic product (GDP) steady at around seven per cent since 2012. This has led to China being the world’s largest economy surpassing the United States of America for the first time. Per capita GDP is estimated to be around one-quarter of Australia’s, though prosperity varies widely across the country.

Despite this, the Chinese government is still facing economic challenges, including low domestic consumption, facilitating higher-wage job opportunities, and reducing corruption and containing environmental damage related to the economy's rapid transformation. This rapid economic growth in the urbanised area of coastal China is attracting workers from regional areas. Educational opportunities in Australia are highly regarded in China, and Chinese students comprise the largest share of Australia’s international student market.

Population

At the end of June 2014, 447,370 Chinese-born people were living in Australia, 78 per cent more than 30 June 2006. After the United Kingdom and New Zealand, China is the third largest migrant community in Australia, equivalent to seven per cent of Australia’s overseas-born population and 1.9 per cent of its total population.

For Australia’s Chinese-born migrants:

  • The median age of 35.5 years was 1.8 years below that of the general population.
  • Females outnumbered males—55 per cent compared with 45 per cent.

Permanent migration

Australia’s permanent Migration Programme incorporates economic and family reunion migration and is the main pathway to permanent residence. The only other way for migrants to obtain permanent residence is to be accepted into Australia on humanitarian grounds.  The Migration Programme is based on non-discriminatory principles relating to nationality, gender and religion. People who meet the criteria set out in the Migration Act 1958 can apply to migrate.

Permanent migration refers to the number of outcomes in any given year, without taking into account whether the visa recipient actually arrived and settled in Australia.  Skilled migration focuses on facilitating the permanent entry of those who can make a positive contribution to Australia through their skills, qualifications, entrepreneurial spirit and employment potential.  Family migration facilitates the entry of close family members of Australian citizens, permanent residents and eligible New Zealand citizens. The programme is currently dominated by partners and dependent children, but also provides options for other family members, such as Carers, Remaining Relatives and Aged Dependent Relatives.

The following table shows the size and composition of the skilled and family migration categories from 2011-12 to 2014-15.

Migration category 2011–12 2012–13 2013–142014–15Per cent change
on previous year
Per cent change for the period
Skilled migration (points tested)
Skilled Regional
806
786
370
218
-41.1
-73.0
Skilled Independent
6,117
6,032
6,076
5,922
-2.5
-3.2
State/Territory Nominated
972
1,216
1,893
2,444
29.1
151.4
Skilled migration (non-points tested)
Business Innovation and Investment
4,614
5,058
4,614
4,870
5.5
5.5
Distinguished Talent
15
9
5
15
200.0
0.0
Employer Sponsored
3,235
3,718
3,476
3,365
-3.2
4.0
Total: Skilled visa grants
15,759
16,819
16,434
16,834
2.4
6.8
Skilled visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)
61.8
61.5
61.4
60.4
n/a
n/a
Family migration
Child
640
673
601
687
14.3
7.3
Partner
5,140
5,343
5,366
5,631
4.9
9.6
Parent
3,666
4,264
4,329
4,658
7.6
27.1
Other Family
257
148
31
49
58.1
-80.9
Total: Family visa grants
9,703
10,428
10,327
11,025
6.8
13.6
Family visas as a proportion of all permanent visas (%)
38.0
38.2
38.6
39.6
n/a
n/a
Special Eligibility
Special Eligibility
47
87
15
13
-13.3
-72.3
Total: Permanent migrants
25,509
27,334
26,776
27,872
4.1
9.3

Temporary migration

Depending on the purpose and duration of their visit, people can come to Australia on a Visitor visa, or through another appropriate temporary visa.  Temporary visas are designed for specific purposes, for example, study, working holidays or other specialist activities. Temporary residents are required to pay taxes on income earned in Australia and do not normally have access to public welfare and might not have access to public health programmes.

The Student visa programme consists of a range of visa categories that broadly correspond to education sectors. Students must study with an education provider and in a course registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. The subclass 457 visa programme allows Australian employers to sponsor foreign workers for employment in management, professional, technical and skilled trades’ positions. The programme is demand-driven and highly responsive to Australian labour market conditions. Visitor visas are mostly used by people visiting Australia for holidays, recreation, or to see family and friends. People might also use Visitor visas for certain short-term business activities.

The following table shows the size and composition of the Student visa programme, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and Visitors from China.

Temporary visa category 2011–122012–132013–142014–15Per cent change
on previous year
Per cent change
for the period
International Students
English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students
1,026
431
289
219
-24.2
-78.7
Schools
3,226
3,051
3,950
5,370
35.9
66.5
Vocational Education and Training
4,697
3,593
3,558
4,269
20.0
-9.1
Higher Education
38,331
44,809
50,124
53,237
6.2
38.9
Postgraduate Research
1,329
1,520
1,629
1,637
0.5
23.2
Non-Award
925
585
760
993
30.7
7.4
Foreign Affairs or Defence
58
26
5
12
140.0
-79.3
Total: International Student visa grants
49,592
54,015
60,315
65,737
9.0
32.6
Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457)
4,804
6,609
6,159
6,653
8.0
38.5
Visitors
Tourist
317,989
387,154
476,543
582,756
22.3
83.3
Business visitor
78,049
88,443
75,399
79,098
4.9
1.3
Medical Treatment
55
65
57
89
56.1
61.8
Total: Visitor visa grants
396,093
475,662
551,999
661,943
19.9
67.1

Main occupations

There are a wide variety of occupations that potential migrants can nominate for, which are acceptable for permanent and temporary skilled migration to Australia. The following table shows the main occupations for Chinese nationals for Points Tested Skilled Migration outcomes and Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) grants.

Period Temporary Work
(Skilled) visa
(subclass 457)
No. of
migrants
Points Tested Skilled Migration No. of
migrants
2014–15
Advertising and marketing professionals
288
Accountants
2,338
Accountants
248
Software and applications programmers
473
Cafe and restaurant managers
245
Registered nurses
378
University lecturers and tutors
245
Civil engineering professionals
194
Advertising, public relations and sales managers
168
Industrial, mechanical and production engineers
173
Cooks
112
Auditors, company secretaries and corporate treasurers
137
General managers
110
Other engineering professionals
126
Skilled meat workers
109
ICT business and systems analysts
124
Software and applications programmers
104
Electronics engineers
119
Massage therapists
93
Computer network professionals
104
2013–14
Advertising and marketing professionals
286
Accountants
2,353
Accountants
264
Software and applications programmers
457
Cafe and restaurant managers
236
Registered nurses
348
University lecturers and tutors
226
Cooks
327
Advertising, public relations and sales managers
159
Civil engineering professionals
185
Call or contact centre and customer service managers
141
Social professionals
155
Cooks
115
Industrial, mechanical and production engineers
139
Software and applications programmers
103
Hairdressers
111
Contract, program and project administrators
103
Bakers and pastrycooks
99
General managers
98
Computer network professionals
98

2012–13

Accountants
345
Accountants
1,685
Advertising and marketing professionals
240
Cooks
785
University lecturers and tutors
237
Software and applications programmers
460
Cafe and restaurant managers
190
Social professionals
300
Contract, program and project administrators
182
Registered nurses
245
Advertising, public relations and sales managers
145
Hairdressers
231
Call or contact centre and customer service managers
128
Bakers and pastrycooks
220
Cooks
127
ICT business and systems analysts
172
Software and applications programmers
106
Civil engineering professionals
106
Structural steel and welding trades workers
104
Other engineering professionals
87

2011–12

University lecturers and tutors
167
Accountants
2,027
Structural steel and welding trades workers
160
Software and applications programmers
817
Accountants
132
Cooks
392
Contract, program and project administrators
127
ICT business and systems analysts
266
Advertising and marketing professionals
121
Registered nurses
181
Cooks
109
Social professionals
146
Skilled meat workers
87
Bakers and pastrycooks
142
Advertising, public relations and sales managers
74
Industrial, mechanical and production engineers
118
General managers
71
Hairdressers
111
Software and applications programmers
71
Electronics engineers
102

Geographic distribution

The following table shows the geographic distribution of migrants, based on permanent additions, international students, Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) and permanent departures.

Permanent additions are the sum of those granted a permanent residency visa while in Australia, and those granted a visa through an Australian mission abroad, who have entered Australia during the respective reporting period.

Population (%)
NSW Vic. Qld SA WA Tas. NT ACT
Proportion of all persons counted in the Census - 2011
32
25
20
7
10
2
1
2
Proportion of China-born counted in the Census - 2011
49
29
8
5
5
1
0
2
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
Skill stream (primary)
37
42
8
6
5
0
0
1
Skill stream (dependent)
34
47
7
5
6
0
0
1
Family stream
48
30
9
4
6
0
0
2
Permanent additions - 2014–15 (%)
International students
38
34
11
7
5
1
0
4
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) (primary)
41
22
13
3
19
0
0
1
Permanent departures (%)
All China-born permanent residents
54
29
8
3
4
0
0
1

Country ranking

This table uses rankings to show the significance of Chinese migration for the past four financial years.

Ranked position of migrants
2011–12 2012–13 2013–142014–15
Population in Australia
3
3
3
3
Points Tested Skilled Migration
3
2
2
2
Employer Sponsored
5
4
3
5
Total Skill stream
3
2
3
2
Total Family stream
1
1
1
1
International students
1
1
1
1
Temporary Work (Skilled) visa
(subclass 457)
6
6
3
3
Visitors
2
2
1
1