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China Introduction Historical Development Current Migration Development Migration Policies The Immigrant Population Citizenship Integration Refuge and Asylum Irregular Migration Current Developments References


Lan Diao Maren Opitz

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Chinese integration politics focuses primarily on the integration of internal migrants and national minorities as well as the integration of Overseas Chinese who wish to resettle in China. Discrimination against national minorities is prohibited, but minorities are not able to take legal action to defend their rights because of a lack of due process. Some regions with higher percentages of foreign workers have legal provisions for the integration of foreigners.

German participant of a dragon boat parade. There is no national law regarding the integration of foreigners. However in some provinces foreign employees with a long-term residence permit enjoy the same rights as Chinese citizens. (© picture alliance/ANN)

Immigrant Integration

According to information from the United Nations, China is among the 53 percent of all developing nations without specific integration policies. Nevertheless, there are some approaches that at least aim at the integration of certain migrant and population groups. Worth mentioning in connection with this is the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Overseas Chinese and Family Members of Overseas Chinese (1990, revised 2000). The law provides for preferential treatment of the overseas Chinese that wish to resettle in China. As an example, these people would have easier access to the job market.

If and to what degree foreigners with a permit for permanent residence in China are entitled to receiving social services is at present not written in any national laws. At the provincial level, on the other hand, provisions have already been laid down. In Shanghai for example, foreigners who have a long-term residence permit enjoy the same rights as Chinese citizens, also regarding unemployment insurance, access to education and health insurance.

Integration of Internal Migrants

In addition, integration policy measures exist in the context of Chinese internal migration. These measures seek, for example, to enable integration of the 159 million Chinese internal labor migrants into urban working and living environments and to ensure access to education to the children of these internal migrants.

Integration of National Minorities

The integration of national minorities into the majority Han Chinese population is also on China’s political agenda. According to law, discrimination against these minorities is prohibited and in certain areas they are, at least officially, given priority over the Han Chinese. The strict one-child policy does not apply to members of minorities and they sometimes receive easier access to schools and universities. Furthermore, the rights for minorities to protect their spoken and written language, to practice their religion and to participate in the political arena are legally founded. However, because there is no rule of law in China, members of minorities are not able to take legal action for their rights. In practice, discrimination and disadvantages remain existent in many areas. The legislation remains vaguely formulated and does not explicitly regulate, for example, how violations against existing anti-discrimination laws are to be punished. The systematic resettlement of Han Chinese in minority areas has also led to discontent among many non-Han Chinese.

This text is part of the Interner Link: country profile China.

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Lan Diao, Doctor of Educational Sciences in foreign language didactics with a focus on Chinese didactics, originally comes from Beijing and is currently a teacher for Chinese and German at a secondary school in Hamburg.

Maren Opitz has a master’s degree in International Migration and Intercultural Relations from the University of Osnabrück and is currently working for the German Youth for Understanding Committee in Hamburg. After completing her bachelor studies in Sinology, Civil Law and Language Acquisition Research she spent two years in China where she worked inter alia in the office of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Shanghai.