Joint steps to curb illegal emigration

China intends to enhance law enforcement co-operation with Russia and some South American countries to curb the illegal emigration of migrant workers seeking better-paying jobs.

Authorities will create a database of illegal Chinese emigrants and share that information with counterparts in other countries, "who then will take measures to tighten border management to prevent them from entering", said a senior official at the Ministry of Public Security, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to China Daily about the plan.

For those Chinese citizens who succeed in crossing the border, police will request assistance in locating and repatriating them, "especially those who are involved in criminal activity and pose risks to local public security", the official said.

The move follows a recent announcement by police that they had crushed a major illegal emigration ring that operated from the Pearl River Delta city of Jiangmen, Guangdong province, detaining 22 suspected gang members and confiscating more than 35,000 fake foreign visa documents.

According to Guangdong police, the gang had arranged for more than 3,200 people, mostly men in their 20s and 30s from Guangdong and Fujian provinces, to travel illegally for employment.

In recent years, Chinese have tended to illegally emigrate to Russia and some North and South American countries, including the United States and Argentina, due to "their desire to be employed for higher salaries and those countries' huge demand for cheap labour", said Zhang Jie, a professor specialising in immigration research at the People's Public Security University of China.

Someone working a minimum wage job in the United States, which can range from US$7.25 (S$10.13) an hour to US$10.50, may still make significantly more than they would in China.

Some emigrants see Russia and South America as more favourable to less-skilled workers and as less risky to enter illegally, compared with European destinations, Zhang said.

The ministry also said it would seek to stem illegal emigration by doing a better job of information sharing, border control management and case investigation. It intends to enhance co-operation with Interpol to help repatriate illegal emigrants.