'Sea Turtles' in China

'Sea Turtles' in China

Photographs and text: Willy Sier (Researcher, University of Amsterdam)
 

The Chinese call their return migrants ‘sea turtles’, a pun on the Chinese word for 'overseas returnee'. The lack of opportunities in Western labour markets, and the appeal of China's strong economy results in a steadily increasing influx of return migrants every year. Almost 200,000 migrants returned in 2011 alone. When these large numbers of ‘sea turtles’ return, they bring home their newly acquired experiences, perspectives and habits. These portraits capture returnees in the Western coffee shops they now frequent. For some, these visits are a way to nurture habits picked up abroad. For others, now employed in companies that need them to regularly meet foreign clients, the coffee shop has become a standard meeting space.