Law and policy: illegal economic immigration in China.

  • Zejun Du

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Since the reform and opening-up of the Chinese economy in 1978, which resulted in the rapid development of China’s economy and its continuous expansion to the outside world, the number of illegal economic immigrants has increased day by day, causing a series of problems for China’s economic development and social stability. In terms of the economy, illegal economic immigration has harmed the labour market and accelerated the consumption of resources. In terms of society, some illegal economic immigrants commit crimes, which undermines social stability. If illegal economic immigration is not managed properly, it will even damage international relations. To cope with this issue, the regulatory framework requires strengthening.

Problems have been found in the governance of illegal economic immigration in China. In terms of government policy, the current policy of introducing immigrants is incompatible with the labour market. In terms of legislation, relevant laws are not systematic, laws and regulations are lagging, there is a gap in the current regulation, and penalties are too light. In terms of the management of departments, the degree of specialisation is not enough. In terms of enforcement, an organisational model is essential.

The problems caused by illegal economic immigration are attracting the attention of the Chinese government. On 13 March 2018, at the First Session of the Thirteenth National People’s Congress, the decision was made to reform and establish the National Immigration Administration. The main responsibilities of this body include taking the lead to coordinate the management of ‘three-non’ foreigners—illegal entry, illegal residence, and illegal employment of foreigners—and the repatriation of illegal immigrants.

Judging from the situation in developed countries, not paying attention to the issue of illegal immigration may trigger a serious social crisis. At present, the problem is not serious, but China should act proactively to prevent it from becoming so. It must improve its regulatory framework. The first step is to speed up the legislative process and promote the promulgation of Chinese immigration law. The second is to build an organisational model. Lastly, it must strengthen international cooperation.
Date of Award13 Oct 2021
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorUmair Ghori (Supervisor) & Vai Io Lo (Supervisor)

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