Beijing [China]Jun 24 (ANI): Given the “oppressive system” of governance in China, the number of Chinese nationals seeking political asylum abroad has risen significantly under President Xi Jinping’s rule.
Figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show that nearly 12,000 Chinese nationals sought asylum abroad in 2012. However, that number had risen to nearly 120,000 by 2021 since Xi took office as secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Safeguard Defenders have called this a “desperate act”. The human rights organization warned of a growing risk of transnational repression, including the use of involuntary returns, as a growing number of Chinese nationals fled the country.
The rights group said: “Seeking asylum is for many a desperate act, reserved for those with few other options, which does not apply to the large amount of Chinese who have moved, and continue to do, to the US, Australia and beyond, often through naturalization, work visas or real estate purchase.” According to the report, about 730,000 Chinese nationals have applied for asylum since 2012, of whom more than 170,000 live outside China with refugee status.
In an article by Amelia Loi for Radio Free Asia (RFA), the foreign-based human rights organization Safeguard Defenders said: “Year after year since Xi Jinping came to power, in step with a more oppressive governance system, the number of asylum seekers has increased. seekers from China have continued to grow at an alarming rate.” “In 2020, and now with new numbers just released for 2021, it shows continued growth despite COVID restrictions,” it added. The US remains the most popular destination, accepting 88,722 candidates from mainland China last year. Australia took in 15,774 asylum seekers in the same year, the figures show. Thousands also apply for asylum in Canada, Brazil, South Korea and the UK
Safeguard Defenders researcher Jing-jie Chen said the data also reflects the impact of Xi’s zero-COVID policy, which has led to grueling lockdowns and draconian restrictions on people’s movement under the guise of disease control and prevention. “China has been in a state of lockdown for the past few years where this data is coming from, and it’s actually very difficult for asylum seekers to go abroad,” Chen said during a conversation with RFA.
“Still, we can see the number have reached a new high… with the number of asylum seekers increasing every year for the past three years,” he added.
Chen said many more people are voting with their feet and choosing to immigrate from China, either through study abroad or investment visas and residence cards.
Meanwhile, World Uyghur Congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit said many of the asylum seekers are Uyghurs fleeing a network of concentration camps and technological totalitarianism in Xinjiang’s northwestern region. He said overseas Uyghurs are at risk from the Chinese authorities.
“Uyghurs in exile are constantly at risk of China putting pressure on their country of residence to detain them and forcibly return them,” said Dilxat Raxit.
“We call on the international community to continue taking steps to provide adequate protection to Uyghurs at risk,” he said, adding that many Uyghur asylum seekers were unable to renew expired passports and sometimes had difficulties documenting the oppression they faced at home. members. he added. (ANI)