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April 1996, Volume 3, Number 4

China Experiences Immigration

Some of North Korea's 22 million residents are reportedly crossing the Yalu river into China because of food shortages. China's Jilin province includes large numbers of ethnic Koreans, and the Yalu river is shallow enough that people can wade across.

China's missile tests in the Taiwan strait led to numerous ads in Taipei newspapers offering, e.g., " missile protection passports" for T$100,000" ($3,600), or permanent residency in Costa Rica within 60 days. So-called immigration fairs drew 30,000 to 40,000 people in March. About 20,000 Taiwanese emigrate each year to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. However, more Taiwanese have reportedly "bought protection" by acquiring passports from Dominica, the Seychelles, Vanuatu, Belize, Namibia and Costa Rica.

China's population rose by 12.7 million in 1995; China's goal is to keep its population to 1.3 billion by 2000. There are 10 countries with more than 100 million residents, and two--the US and Japan--are among the world's wealthiest. China has 30 provinces, 19 of which have more than 30 million residents.

China's gross domestic product GDP in 1995 was 5,773.3 billion yuan. Income gaps between provinces are widening. The coastal areas of Shanghai and Guangdong had per capita incomes of $800 in 1992, versus $225 in Guizhou. There are about 230 million residents in the rich southeast coastal area, and 530 million in the poorer center.

China classifies its urban households into five categories, from the poorest, who have annual incomes of less than 5,000 yuan ($600) and who comprise eight percent of households, to the next group--who have annual incomes between 5,000 and 15,000 yuan ($600-$1,800)--and who comprise 30 percent of urban households, to the 53 percent of all urban households that have annual incomes between 15,000-30,000 yuan ($1,800-$3,600), to the high income households that have annual incomes of 30,000 to 100,000 yuan ($3,600-$12,000)--who are six percent of all households, to the very high income households, who have more than 100,000 yuan annually ($12,000)--and are three percent of all households.

About one-fourth of China's 1.2 billion people are considered urban residents.

There are believed to be about 35 million ethnic Chinese outside mainland China, or 55 million if Taiwan is included. These overseas ethnic Chinese are believed to account for some 70 percent of the more than $ 490 billion in foreign investments in mainland China. Overseas Chinese have been described as "Lords of the Rim: The Invisible Empire of the Overseas Chinese," and "The Merchant Mandarins."

China elaborated on plans announced earlier to "preserve jobs in China for the Chinese." Urban unemployment is estimated to be at least 10 percent, far higher than the three percent official rate.

The US Human Rights Report on China, issued in March 1996, notes that there is a "floating population" of over 100 million economic migrants within China. China also responded to US charges that it is swamping Tibet with Chinese immigrants by arguing that, in 1995, there were 79,000 Chinese Han people among Tibet's 2.4 million residents.

In the US, the 98 Chinese Golden Venture passengers still in detention may be able to apply for political asylum in the U.S after the House approved a House-Senate conference report that would amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow people who fear "coercive population controls" in their home country to seek asylum in the U.S.

Vietnam announced in March that there are 2.6 million ethnic Vietnamese in 80 countries, including one million in the US, about 400,000 in France, 300,000 in China, 160,000 in Australia, 150,000 in Canada, 120,000 in Thailand and 100,000 each in Germany, Cambodia and Russia.

"Overseas Vietnamese may exceed 3 million by year 2000," Japan Economic Newswire, March 29, 1996. "New census rejects human rights groups' charge of mass immigration to Tibet," British Broadcasting Corporation, March 19, 1996. Keith R. Richburg, " Diaspora Fuels an Economic Boom; Ethnic Chinese Account for Most Foreign Investment in Ancestral Home," Washington Post, March 17, 1996. "Rich-poor gap gets wider among urban Chinese," Reuters World Service, February 14, 1996.