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Current Developments and Future Challenges

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

Current Developments and Future Challenges

Lan Diao Maren Opitz

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Despite an increase of immigration to china, the net population change is negative. The numbers of emigrants are still surpassing those immigrating and demographic change is bound to diminish the working population. The implementation of a national migration policy and the enacting of a national asylum law will be important future challenges.

Demonstration for World Refugee Day in Hong Kong. To fulfill its responsibility a signatory of the Geneva Convention on Refugees it seems indispensible for the People’s Republic to pass a national asylum law and to appoint the corresponding responsible institutions in the area of refuge and asylum. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Demographic Change

The number of foreigners that settle in China mid- to long-term has increased in the recent past. However, the percentage of immigrants in relation to the total population remains low, standing at 0.05 or 0.1 percent. The numbers emigrating are still surpassing those immigrating, and it can be assumed that this trend will not change in the near future. The demographic change has recently begun to hit China as well. The population is aging and the birthrates are sinking so that in the future the working population will also shrink. With this in mind, China would do well to implement national migration policies that meet international standards which, among other things, give incentives for highly skilled laborers to come (back) to China.

Asylum System

China’s aging population: Working age population, 2013-2050 (bpb) Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/3.0/de/

Dealing with refugees and asylum seekers represents a further challenge. To fulfill their responsibility in the area of refuge and asylum as a signatory to the Geneva Convention on Refugees, passing a national asylum law and appointing the corresponding responsible institutions seems indispensible for the People’s Republic. The introduction of identity cards for asylum seekers and the corresponding legalization of their residence until a final decision is made on their asylum request, and the attempt of Chinese authorities to grant refugee children access to education (presently in five provinces) are first steps in this direction.

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



  1. Wang (2012), Skeldon (2011), UNHCR (2013b).


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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.