China

Not Available

Immigration detainees

2019

Not Available

Detained children

2017

465

New asylum applications

2019

303,379

Refugees

2019

1,030,871

International migrants

2019

Overview

Types of facilities used for migration-related detention
Administrative Ad Hoc Criminal Unknown

05 May 2020

A Group of Men Standing in Front of Closed Shops in Guangzhou, (D. Vincent,
A Group of Men Standing in Front of Closed Shops in Guangzhou, (D. Vincent, "Africans in China: We Face Coronavirus Discrimination," BBC, 17 April 2020, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52309414)

On 11 January 2020, Chinese state media reported the first known death from COVID-19. On 23 January, in the middle of the Lunar New Year holiday and almost overnight, China instituted an internal travel lockdown on people in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei in an effort to contain the domestic spread of the virus. Many other cities, districts, and counties in other provinces followed suit in restricting entry and exit of persons. On 26 March, China announced that it would temporarily suspend entry by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits. The lockdown on Wuhan was partially lifted on 8 April, with residents being able to leave the city; however, residents have still been urged to avoid unnecessary travel. Restrictions in other cities across China have also eased, as the number of deaths reported by state media have slowly decreased.

Little is known about immigration detention in China. Article 60 of the country’s 2012 Exit and Entry Law provides that persons suspected of violating regulations on exit/entry administration can be detained for investigation. Article 63 of the same law states: “Persons who are detained for investigation or who are to be repatriated upon decision but cannot be repatriated promptly shall be held in custody in detention houses or places of repatriation.”

It is unclear about whether there have been any changes to immigration detention policy in China in light of Covid-19. According to the Shanghai municipal government’s social media, officers working in Shanghai Minhang District Detention Center have been required to remain at their work stations for 30 days, in order to avoid infecting their families and friends. A report from Chutian Metropolis Daily similarly notes that one officer had been stationed and was working at a detention centre in Wuhan continuously for 50 days (starting on 6 February), before dying of illness on 8 April. It appears that legal proceedings in different detention centres are taking place by video call rather than with a full court. In certain detention centres, lawyers have been able to meet their clients within the centres.

On 7 April, Chinese state media reported that five Nigerian nationals in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, had tested positive for Covid-19, and that four of them had frequently visited a local restaurant, subsequently infecting the owner and her eight-year-old daughter, and transmitting the virus to a three year-old boy in Jieyang, another city in Guangdong Province. The state media report sought to dispel rumours that African nationals in Yuexiu District in Guangzhou (a district known for a high number of African migrants) had been subject to a lockdown, with the local Centre for Disease Control claiming that people wearing masks could enter and exit pending temperature checks. Nonetheless, the report noted that the cause of the rumours was likely from “growing concerns over mounting pressure from imported cases on the southern Chinese city [Guangzhou], where 111 imported infections have been reported so far. Among them, 25 are foreign nationals, with nine from Nigeria, three from Angola, two from Democratic Republic of the Congo and two from Niger. One each from France, Brazil, UK, Australia, Ethiopia, Syria, Burkina Faso, Madagascar and Russia has also been reported.”

The Guangzhou health department subsequently announced that it would begin widespread testing of African nationals. It was later reported that the department had tested every African national in the city and found that 111 of the more than 4,500 Africans in Guangzhou tested positive. The local government also established a hotline for "foreigners who experience discrimination".

Reports began to surface of Black African migrants in Guangzhou being subject to racist attacks, including being evicted from apartments and refused entry into hotels and restaurants. Many African students were forcibly quarantined on their university campuses, with little to no material support or access to food. Some Africans have criticised the local government’s policy of quarantining African people who have tested negative for the virus for 14 days for being discriminatory.

Observers underscore the broader context of xenophobic attitudes towards African migrants in China, pointing to the widespread portrayal of African migrants as ‘illegal immigrants’, ‘drug dealers’, ‘rapists’, and ‘spreaders of AIDS’. In 2011 (prior to the statewide 2012 Exit and Entry Law), Guangdong Province implemented the Interim Provisions of Guangdong Province on Administration of and Services to Aliens. These provisions empowered Chinese citizens to report on people suspected to be illegal migrants, expanded the authority of the local police alongside the foreign affairs police to stop foreigners and verify their passports, and also introduced new powers on the part of city or county Public Security Bureaus to “restrict aliens or foreign institutions from establishing residences or offices in certain areas”, namely ‘areas adjacent to Party and government buildings or military restricted zones’. In effect, this Act became a tool of spatialized and racialized control over Black African migrants. Many provisions of this Act were, as argued by Lan (2014), integrated into the statewide 2012 Exit and Entry Law.

On the ground, grassroots community groups comprising of local residents, students, and scholars, have mobilized to provide material support to African communities. The issue of the treatment of Black African nationals in Guangzhou has become an issue of geopolitical tension between China and different African countries.

There is also growing concern regarding the effect of COVID-19 on Uyghur Muslims and other ethnic minority groups detained in detention centres and camps in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. As of 28 February, the Chinese government had confirmed at least 76 cases of coronavirus and two deaths in the region, albeit international human rights organizations, activists, and journalists have noted that the actual number may be much higher. This is particularly concerning given reports of overcrowding, malnutrition, lack of sufficient medical facilities, and other human rights abuses in these so-called ‘voluntary vocational training centres’, though the communication blackout and widespread censorship makes it difficult to ascertain the exact conditions within them. Uyghur Muslims in the diaspora have taken to social media to raise concerns about the risks in detention centres, calling on the WHO to send a delegation to the region to evaluate the spread of the virus; the international community to pressure the Chinese government to release all detained persons; and for medical supplies and other humanitarian support to be sent to the region. In response, the Chinese government has denied that COVID-19 will pose a serious threat to minority groups.


Last updated:

ENFORCEMENT DATA

Total Detainees/ Stock & Flow (Year)
Not Available
2019
Total Number of Children Placed in Immigration Detention (Year)
Not Available
2017
Criminal Prison Population (Year)
1,649,804
2015
1,701,344
2013
1,650,000
2010
1,642,215
2007
1,583,006
2004
1,428,126
2001
1,440,000
1998
1,320,947
1995
Percentage of Foreign Prisoners (Year)
0.4
2015
Prison Population Rate (per 100,000 of National Population)
118
2015
124
2013
123
2010
124
2007
122
2004
112
2001
115
1998
109
1995

POPULATION DATA

Population (Year)
1,439,300,000
2020
1,376,049,000
2015
1,363,600,000
2012
International Migrants (Year)
1,030,871
2019
978,000
2015
848,500
2013
International Migrants as Percentage of Population (Year)
0.1
2015
0.1
2013
Refugees (Year)
303,379
2019
321,756
2018
321,718
2017
317,239
2016
301,052
2015
301,047
2014
Ratio of Refugees Per 1000 Inhabitants (Year)
0.23
2016
0.22
2014
0.22
2012
0
New Asylum Applications (Year)
465
2019
493
2016
342
2014
309
2012
Refugee Recognition Rate (Year)
35.3
2014
Stateless Persons (Year)
0
2016
0
2015

SOCIO-ECONOMIC DATA & POLLS

Gross Domestic Product per Capita (in USD)
7,590
2014
6,807
2013
Remittances to the Country
64,140
2014
62,497
2011
Remittances From the Country
1,754
2010
Unemployment Rate
2014
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)
90 (High)
2015
91 (High)
2014
Pew Global Attitudes Poll on Immigration
52
2007

B. Attitudes and Perceptions

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

LEGAL & REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

Detention-Related Legislation
Exit and Entry Administration Law 30 June 2012(EEAL) (2012) 2013
2012 2013
Regulations, Standards, Guidelines
Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Administration of the Entry and Exit of Foreigners, Decree of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, July 12, 2013 (2013)
2013 2013

GROUNDS FOR MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Immigration-Status-Related Grounds
Detention to effect removal
2016
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay
2016
Criminal Penalties for Immigration-Related Violations
Yes (Yes)
2016
Grounds for Criminal Immigration-Related Incarceration / Maximum Length of Incarceration
Unauthorized entry
2016
Unauthorized exit
2016
Unauthorised stay
2016
Children & Other Vulnerable Groups
Pregnant women (Prohibited)
2016
Elderly (Prohibited)
2016
Accompanied minors (Prohibited)
2016
Re-Entry Ban
Yes
2016

LENGTH OF MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION

Maximum Length of Administrative Immigration Detention
(60)
2016
Maximum Length in Custody Prior to Detention Order
(1)
2016

MIGRATION-RELATED DETENTION INSTITUTIONS

PROCEDURAL STANDARDS & SAFEGUARDS

Procedural Standards
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detention (Yes)
2016
Types of Non-Custodial Measures (ATDs) Provided in Law
Supervised release and/or reporting (Yes) infrequently
2016
Home detention (curfew) (Yes) infrequently
2016

DETENTION MONITORS

TRANSPARENCY

READMISSION/RETURN/EXTRADITION AGREEMENTS

COVID-19

HEALTH CARE

COVID-19 DATA

INTERNATIONAL TREATIES

International Treaties Ratified
Ratification Year
Observation Date
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
2010
2010
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
2008
2008
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
2001
2001
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child
1992
1992
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
1988
1988
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1982
1982
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
1982
1982
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
1981
1981
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
1980
1980
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations
1979
1979
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
Ratio: 10/19

NON-TREATY-BASED INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

Relevant Recommendations from the UN Universal Periodic Review
Observation Date
No 2009
2017
No 2013
2017

REGIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS MECHANISMS

GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

Legal Tradition(s)
Civil law
2017
Customary law
2017

DETENTION COSTS

OUTSOURCING

FOREIGN SOURCES OF FUNDING FOR DETENTION OPERATIONS