Chinese migrants
Chinese migrants Reuters

Migration from Chinese nationals to the U.S. has soared over the past years, and a new report by the Niskanen Center shows its extent.

The Washington DC-based think tank did so through migratory data from Ecuador, the only country in the Western Hemisphere to which Chinese nationals can go without a visa.

Many of them reach the country and begin the long journey throughout the continent that Latin Americans and others take to reach the U.S.

Ecuadorian data shows that in 2023 alone over 48,000 Chinese nationals entered the country, but only 24,000 left legally, showing that many of those who didn't do so likely began migrating to the U.S.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection data indicates a notable surge in encounters with Chinese nationals, which parallels Ecuadorian records showing a 235% increase in Chinese travelers compared to the previous five-year average. This convergence of data signals a growing trend of irregular Chinese migration into the Americas via Ecuador.

In 2023, U.S. authorities arrested more than 37,000 Chinese national at the southern border, more than 10 times than the previous year. In December alone, the figure almost reached 6,000. Both countries recently started cooperating to deport nationals apprehended at the border crossing illegally.

The report also focuses on the fact that most come from regions experiencing higher levels of political repression, with Hong Kong and Xinjiang featuring in the list, as well as Aksy and Altay.

The majority of Chinese entrants to Ecuador are male and under 40 years old. This composition aligns with China's gender imbalance due to the one-child policy, where surplus men may seek opportunities abroad.

Additionally, social media has facilitated the journey, appealing particularly to tech-savvy young individuals. Most migrants also belong to the middle or high-skilled professional category, indicating a certain economic capability and resourcefulness required for such journeys.

These findings challenge simplistic narratives about Chinese migration, debunking notions of widespread espionage. Instead, the data suggests a complex interplay of political, economic, and social factors driving irregular migration, the report says. It also urges policymakers to adopt nuanced approaches, focusing on promoting human rights and democracy, rather than perpetuating misleading narratives about Chinese migrants.

Another report by The Associated Press follows Chinese people who have already made it to the country, illustrating how the daily struggle of many "is a far cry from the picture former President Donald Trump and other Republicans have sought to paint of them as a coordinated group of "military-age" men who have come to the United States to build an "army" and attack America.

Moreover, Asian advocacy organizations expressed concerns about this rhetoric potentially encouraging "further harassment and violence toward the Asian community." "In the midst of an already inflamed political climate and election year, we know all too well how harmful such rhetoric can be," said Cynthia Choi, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

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