What if China, flush with its new wealth, opened its doors to mass immigration? It would make sense from an economic and social point of view, because its one-child-per-family policy has produced a young generation far smaller than the one that now does most of the work. The average age of China’s population is rising faster than any country in history, and it could certainly do with some more young people.

If China had an immigration policy like that of the United States, it could fill the gaping holes that will open up in the workforce when the present adult generation retires, and there would be enough people working and paying taxes to support that older generation. Otherwise, there will be barely one worker for each retiree, and their retirement years will be far from golden.

So let’s suppose China opens the gates. (Stay with me on this.) The immigrants would come from all over the world. Probably most would be from south and southeast Asia (India, Pakistan, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines), but plenty of Russians would come too. So would Arabs from the slums of Cairo, Congolese from the slums of Kinshasa, Mexicans fleeing the bloody war on drugs.

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There would be young Europeans, too, fleeing the 25 to 50 percent youth unemployment rates of Spain, Italy, and Greece.  Some Americans would also come, like former automobile workers from Rust Belt states hoping to put their skills to work for what is now the world’s biggest car-maker. China’s politics wouldn’t deter them: They have already tried being free and poor, and some would be willing to trade.

And so China would be transformed. In 50 or 60 years it would be one of the world’s most diverse societies. Almost all the new immigrants would learn to speak some Chinese, but their children would be fluent in the language. Indeed, they would think of themselves as Chinese, regardless of race, religion, or where their parents came from.

Some tens of millions of them would already have intermarried with ethnic Chinese, if only because there are tens of millions of young Chinese men who will otherwise remain unmarried. (The Chinese have been killing too many of their baby girls.) And everybody would live more or less happily ever after.

I know. The Chinese would never let it happen. But that’s precisely the point. The Americans have let it happen. Why?

Don’t get me wrong: I think this is a good thing. But it’s also an extraordinary thing. The United States of 60 years ago was a country whose people were overwhelmingly of white European descent. The only really big minority was the black and mixed-race descendants of African slaves, who made up about an eighth of the population. And then the United States opened the gates wide.

Last month the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that non-white births in the country narrowly exceeded the number of births to white Americans for the first time. There are some curious kinks in the statistics, such as the fact that Spanish-speaking whites are not counted as white, but the message is clear: The next adult generation in the United States will not be majority white.

So why did the last two generations of Americans, who were still mostly of European descent, let it happen? Did they welcome and encourage it, as a good thing for the country’s future? Or were they just asleep at the wheel?

Some Americans certainly did encourage it, arguing that turning the United States into a microcosm of the whole world was fulfillment of its destiny and that the sheer diversity of its population would give it a huge competitive advantage in the world. But there were not many who made that argument, and there is actually little evidence to show that ethnic diversity makes a country more competitive.

Nor did this immense change happen while the old white population was just not paying attention. Immigration policy debates went on all the time, and plenty of information was available about where the current immigration policy was leading.

One plausible explanation is that it was about fairness. As descendants of immigrants themselves, they felt that they could not deny others the same opportunities. Many older white Americans were clearly uneasy about the new social reality springing up around them, but most remained true to their ideals and never mobilized to stop it.

Maybe the last two generations of Americans were a lot less racist than many people — including many Americans — thought. Or perhaps they were all silently aware that only 500 years ago, none of the births in North America was white.
Gwynne Dyer is a London-based journalist whose work is published in many countries.


  1. Too bad Dyer didn’t simply write the two or three paragraph piece she wanted to. It’s clear the purpose of her 14 paragraphs was her belief that the-sooner-whites-are-a-minority-in-the-U.S.-the-better. I’ll grant her though, the cleverness of padding her agitprop with a Chinese flavored faux-immigration wrapper.

    The following is a point-by-point, start-to-finish deconstruction of Dyer’s creation, from the print version of FWW. You see, it’s impossible for me to let professional journalists think such lapses into illogic and fantasy plus overall lack of thinking-through of such key ideas can go unchallenged. Yeah, I’m annoyed. Annoyed that “London-based” Ms. Dyer – with her foggy writing style – gets to add the U.S. to her list of “many countries.”

    Paragraph 2: First, China is a pretty tightly controlled nation, so for the author to think it would ever embrace an open/porous border type of “immigration policy” like we have in the U.S. is folly (the Chinese would then also be Free-to-leave!). So why does she wait until paragraphs 3 & 7 to admit it? Besides, why would huddled masses looking for personal opportunities yearn – once they rushed all the way to China – to labor day in and day out to dutifully support, in some kind of “golden-retirement-style,” a bunch of wrinkled old Asians they wouldn’t know from Adam? Again, folly.

    Paragraph 3 & 4: What makes the author think China is any more keen than we ever were on fast-tracking unskilled/unmotivated ex-slum-dwellers or unmotivated Mexicans fleeing Mexico instead of “fixing” their own backyards? And neither would unemployed – which infers little or no experience therefore also unskilled – “youths” from Europe be a very smart addition to China’s economy. They in fact would be a great deficit, a “welfare” cost: they’d need a “free” education or slow down actual on-the-job producers in order to get hands-on training.

    Paragraph 4: LOL, “They’ve tried being free and poor…” It’s no surprise she fails to ask why auto workers are so poor – she wouldn’t like the answers. Like all the China-like dictatorial policies and politics in the U.S., ruling minute aspects of the environment and of the workplace, not to mention business-shackling-then-strangling union-dictated demands. These are the things that ruined/continue to ruin a lot of industries in the U.S., not just the auto industry. So, please drop the tired tactic of blaming the concepts of Individual Liberty (vs. what we have: wage & market controls plus taxes from all layers of government) & free-market Capitalism (vs. the crony/political-payoff/bailout/subsidy capitalism we actually have) for layoffs and other business difficulties and subsequent failures.

    Paragraph 5: By now according to Dyer’s hypothesis, bi-lingual Spanish/English education in the U.S. should have disappeared, LOL. And assimilation should be evident rather than Mexican-flag-waving angry Azatlan demonstrations. So what makes the author think China’s immigrants or their kids would learn Chinese any more readily than the illegals from Mexico have learned English here in the U.S. over the last few decades? The challenges going from Spanish to English are non-existent compared with the quantum leap required to go from a “Romance” language to an Asian tongue. Instead countless $millions-billions are spent in my country still – Mexicans coming over have every official & unofficial form, store sign, grocery item, and school program bent to them. They are so catered to they clearly could care less – in many cases – about even speaking “some English” much less aspiring to fluency. Why should they bother when they don’t have to? More folly.

    Paragraph 6: Thinking-cap time: it would be easier for China to simply kill baby boys for a few years than to import hoards of un-indoctrinated/i.e. uncooperative females. Besides, how many halfway intelligent women of childbearing age would line up for that boat if they knew they were going primarily to be breeding-stock for “lonely-hearted” Chinese guys? Hell, if that’s what women want they could stay at home – in the U.S. anyway – and wait for the checks to roll in from Uncle Nanny-Sam. Single-motherhood is just as easy in most European nations as well. Folly.

    LOL. By the “more or less happily ever after” I assume the writer means something like: until a new regime decides the round-eyes need to be rounded-up and sent home. Or worse.
    Paragraph 8: Americans didn’t “let” the country get overrun with illegals, the politicians stalled and/or did what they wanted. Typically consisting of kicking the political hot-potato/can down the road. Like all tough decisions, they put it off until later, until after “the election,” which translates, Until My Retirement from Office. They don’t listen to those they were elected by.

    Paragraphs 8,9,10: I’m sure the author thinks the loss of the “white European majority” is a good thing, after all, how boorrr-ring it used to be when out-of-wedlock births (therefore the welfare state) were nearly non-existant. How boorrr-ring when most children – regardless of their color – were born into a two-parent hetero-home . How boorrr-ring it was before massive Federal Deficit spending, oh yeah, with the major chunks being spent in social/welfare/dependency (i.e. societal-destruction) programs, right? Oh, boy-oh-boy, just wait until “the next adult generation in the U.S.” and it isn’t white and tightlaced and full of that old-fashioned father-in-the-home white-Puritan cradle-to-grave work-ethic…won’t that be un-boorrr-ring and fun?

    The author needs to understand that the last two generations of us weren’t asleep-at-the-wheel. Repeat: politicians do what they want, when they want. Like Obama just did, declaring Illegal-children “legal” just because he could. Why? For the goodwill of those newly created voters. The illegal-parents can already vote since it’s “discrimination” to demand proper ID. Remember the election in November? Follow the votes.

    Paragraph 13: Just because the author and some in the U.S. either suffer from “white guilt” or find “fairness” a great immigration-free-for-all sales pitch doesn’t mean the majority of Americans do. I can’t answer for acts – either good or bad – that others have committed in the past. Neither can Dyer, either, if she’s rational.

    Paragraph 14: Gee, thank the author for me for saying “maybe” we Americans aren’t as “racist” as she thought. Who else in the entire world is going into deep-doo-doo-debt yet has continued decade after decade to spread taxpayers hard-earned dollars into practically every country on earth? Huh? Anybody? How does that behavior square with intimations of ever having been “racist?” For me, sure, carte blanche foreign aid equals “stupid” but then that is just one more way politicians do-what-they-want-to-do not what’s truly in the best interest of the people who’ve entrusted them with the reins-of-Power.

    Lastly, the author closes on that favorite theme of hers: White-Guilt. No, Gwynne, it isn’t that either. It’s pandering stupidity on the part of Politicians. Just like in the locale you call “home.” By the way, is the author aware that, oh, 500 years plus a million – or two – ago none of us were white? All of us were short, brown, very hairy, with sloping foreheads, and probably congregated on one continent. Is she aware that this makes her and her “people” (and pretty much everybody else) squatters in whatever land they currently squat in, too – unless of course, they’re short, brown, and very hairy with a sloping forehead? Not to make anybody feel Non-Sloping-Forehead Guilt or anything…

    • It has been brought to my attention elsewhere that Gwynne Dyer is a man, a rather prominent historian and writer of a man at that, so I apologize for the mistake. I “assumed” (and I know what “they say” about that!) from my study of the Frnech language that the N-E ending was feminine, just as non-American might assume from my first name that I’m male which I’m not (since in the U.S. “Patrice” is a girl’s name).

      However, I stand by my deconstruction of his essay and would add that it’s to bad a Brit would take such a flippant attitude on a subject that troubles many of us, here, greatly. If Dyer was an young white American male of European descent and lightly-skilled-yet-still-out-of-work and if he then had to drive past countless jobsites every day (as I have in my area) and seen the largely-Mexican (who-knows-how-“legal”) workforces that predominate I believe he’d have more of a “heart” for that demographic’s rock & a hard place dilemma. A mere 20 years ago those young men could have begun lucrative professions in all kinds of building-trades, but not-so-much now.