China starts to encounter economic migrantsBy Asia Sentinel Jun 03, 2011 2:04PM UTC
Economic increase starts to attract workers from across the world, reports Asia Sentinel
China, with 33 million of its ethnic brethren living outside its borders, is starting to turn around and draw migrants as its surging economy attracts people from overseas, according to a new report by The Migration Source, a Washington, DC-based NGO.
The report,”China: An Emerging Destination for Economic Migration,” was written by Ronald Skeldon of the University of Sussex. Although overseas workers have been trickling into China in increasing numbers for several years, the report in large measure reverses the image of a China whose citizens are willing to lock themselves into shipping containers or dare deserts and outlaws to get into countries where they have more economic opportunity.
“China, with its vibrant economy, is now clearly a major participant in the global migration system and has become an emergent destination for migration, the report notes. Overall, according to Skeldon’s study, 2.85 million of the 26.11 million foreigners who entered China in 2007 came looking for jobs. Of those about 500,000 were employed in joint ventures or wholly foreign-owned firms, with the majority likely to have been skilled migrants from the developed world, including overseas Chinese from Europe, North America, and Australasia.
“The driving force behind the recent trend of immigration to China…has been the country’s rapid economic growth, compounded by its passage through a demographic transition,” Skeldon writes. Although large numbers of emigrants continue to leave in search of opportunities elsewhere, China’s labor force growth is slowing rapidly as the effects of the country’s one-child policy and other demographic factors kick in.
The picture may be more optimistic than Skeldon paints it. China still has more than of its population – more than the entire population of the Eurozone or the United States – living on less than US$2 per day. Tens of millions are stills internal migrants searching for jobs in the country’s cities. It still has 8.3 million Chinese citizens living outside its borders, and there are considerable numbers willing to dare the inhospitable deserts of Mexico to get into the US.
However, As Asia Sentinel reported on May 27, an estimated 150,000 skilled workers have returned to China from the United States over the last decade to form a new class of entrepreneurs trained in Silicon Valley and other US technology hot spots. And, as Skeldon points out, the 33 million Han Chinese living overseas represent only 2.5 percent of a population nearing 1.34 billion.