Chinese Migrants at US Border: PRC's Dire Straits

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 10/30/2023 02:00:00 PM
The blog's first AI image c/o Bing: "Draw a Chinese person walking through a Panamanian jungle."
A usually good indicator of an underwhelming economy is of a country's citizens departing it for greener pastures. The year is 2023, not 1882 when the US passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to stop a massive influx of Chinese immigrants. Moreover, isn't the 21st century supposed to have been the Asian Century according to some prognosticators? My belief is that policy missteps by Xi Jinping have greatly dented the forward momentum of China in recent decades, recently exacerbated by endless lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. At any rate, you may be surprised that the PRC--not some Latin American country--now ranks fourth in sending folks across the Darién Gap linking South and Central America with hopes of entering the United States. From the Associated Press:

Chinese people were the fourth-highest nationality, after Venezuelans, Ecuadorians, and Haitians, crossing the Darién Gap during the first nine months of this year, according to Panamanian immigration authorities. Chinese asylum-seekers who spoke to The Associated Press, as well as observers, say they are seeking to escape an increasingly repressive political climate and bleak economic prospects.

They also reflect a broader presence of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border — Asians, South Americans, and Africans — who made September the second-highest month of illegal crossings and the U.S. government’s 2023 budget year the second-highest on record.

As bad as things may be Stateside, let's say they are decidedly worse in China (where you certainly aren't free in a conventional sense). 

The pandemic and China’s COVID-19 policies, which included tight border controls, temporarily stemmed the exodus that rose dramatically in 2018 when President Xi Jinping amended the constitution to scrap the presidential term limit. Now emigration has resumed, with China’s economy struggling to rebound and youth unemployment high. The United Nations has projected China will lose 310,000 people through emigration this year, compared with 120,000 in 2012...

“This wave of emigration reflects despair toward China,” Cai Xia, editor-in-chief of the online commentary site of Yibao and a former professor at the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing.

“They’ve lost hope for the future of the country,” said Cai, who now lives in the U.S. “You see among them the educated and the uneducated, white-collar workers, as well as small business owners, and those from well-off families.”

Those who can’t get a visa are finding other ways to flee the world’s most populous nation. Many are showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum. The Border Patrol made 22,187 arrests of Chinese for crossing the border illegally from Mexico from January through September, nearly 13 times the same period in 2022. Arrests peaked at 4,010 in September, up 70% from August. The vast majority were single adults.

A common route involves landing in Ecuador and then continuing northward to reach the border:

The popular route to the U.S. is through Ecuador, which has no visa requirements for Chinese nationals. Migrants from China join Latin Americans there to trek north through the once-impenetrable Darién and across several Central American countries before reaching the U.S. border. The journey is well-known enough it has its own name in Chinese: walk the line, or “zouxian.”

 The monthly number of Chinese migrants crossing the Darién has been rising gradually, from 913 in January to 2,588 in September. For the first nine months of this year, Panamanian immigration authorities registered 15,567 Chinese citizens crossing the Darién. By comparison, 2,005 Chinese people trekked through the rainforest in 2022, and just 376 in total from 2010 to 2021.

If there is something that will shame the PRC into adopting sensible economic policies that benefit its general population, then its citizens fleeing China for distant America en masse during its supposed renaissance should be it. In the final analysis, the folks who've made China uninvestable are the PRC's leaders and not some malign foreign influence these leaders like to blame. 

The fruits of Xi Jinpingism are plain to see at the US-Mexico border.