Migration flows between the EU and China


Speaking of migrant’s crisis, are to consider the Middle Eastern refugees and migrants that are transiting through the Balkans, Central Europe, and then to the Western Europe. However, the neglected group of labour migrants is extended. This analysis presents a report of the International Organization for Migrations (IOM) regarding the Eurasian migratory flows.

The OECD provides the longest-available comparable data on the inflows of Chinese migrants to France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Over 1 million Chinese entries were registered in the six case study countries in 2000–13. The inflow patterns fluctuated across time and countries but grew over the entire period. Between 2000 and 2013, the six case study countries registered 1,100,416 entries of Chinese nationals. These admissions do not denote the number of Chinese entrants, but rather the number of entries, since one person could have entered more than once. Registering an average of 28,217 entries a year, the United Kingdom admitted more Chinese nationals than France, Germany, and the Netherlands combined.

The inflows fluctuated from year to year depending on a number of factors, including the host countries and China’s policies affecting international migration and migrants’ responses to those policies. One likely factor during the 2000–13 period was the post-2008 global economic crisis. The crisis affected each country differently; thus, each country responded with a different set of policies. Furthermore, each country modified its migration regulations over time, albeit to a different degree. Hence, the aggregate inflows to each country and the proportions of various categories of Chinese migrants rose and fell from year to year. Bracketing those fluctuations by comparing solely the figures for 2000 and 2013, the inflows of Chinese migrants to the six case study countries rose by as “little” as 150 per cent in Germany and by as much as 460 per cent in France. The inflows to Italy (170 per cent), the Netherlands (260 per cent), Spain (285 per cent), and United Kingdom (240 per cent) roughly doubled.

In all six mentioned countries, Chinese migrants featured prominently among recipients of first education permits. In the United Kingdom a quarter of all first education permits issued in 2008– 15 were granted to Chinese nationals. However, even though Chinese nationals’ weight among migrant workers in the case study countries was smaller, it was still considerable. The proportion of Chinese migrants among first work permit recipients was highest in the Netherlands, where 12 per cent of all new work permits issued in 2008–15 was granted to Chinese. In Italy, Chinese nationals received 8 per cent of all family reunification permits. The proportion of permits issued to any one nationality depended on a number of factors, one of them being competition from pre-established labour migration networks by other groups. In the United Kingdom, where Chinese migrants accounted for only 3 per cent of all work permits issued, Chinese workers had to compete with the citizens of Commonwealth of Nations countries, nations with long histories of labour migration to the United Kingdom. Thus, it is not the proportion of Chinese workers that should be looked at to hypothesize about the future of Chinese labour migration to the United Kingdom, rather it is the rate of change that should be examined.

At the institutional level both sides cooperate within the specific projects. The ‘EU-China Dialogue on Migration and Mobility Support Project’ is an initiative funded by the Partnership Instrument (PI) of the European Union (EU) and implemented by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). The project contributes to a better management of mobility and legal migration between the EU and China, as well as to reduce irregular migratory flows. Specifically, it supports the EU-China High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility, contributes to EU-China cooperation in this area, and strengthens relevant migration management capacities of the competent Chinese authorities. Focus Areas:

  • Organizing and facilitating regular migration and mobility
  • Preventing and reducing irregular migration
  • Maximizing development impact of migration and mobility
  • Promoting international protection.

The expected outcome of the project is to strengthen capacity of Chinese stakeholders is strengthened to prevent and reduce irregular migration from China to EU, address human trafficking and reduce the presence of Chinese irregular migrants in EU through return, readmission and reintegration measures, while ensuring international protection in mixed migration flows.

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