In the name of the fight against the pandemic, family visits to people living abroad are no longer allowed, while zero-covid policy pushes many Chinese to try to emigrate.
China announced on Thursday, May 12, that it would “set up a strict immigration policy” by limiting “non-ending outings” of the holders of a Chinese passport. Already, in August 2021, the immigration services had limited passport issuance to citizens wishing to travel for their studies and their work. While around 50 million Chinese live abroad, visiting them is therefore no longer authorized to members of their families living in China. According to the online magazine Sixth Tone, a number of Chinese are trying to get around the ban by getting false employment contracts established abroad.
Officially, this restrictive policy is part of the fight against COVID-19. In the opposite sense, the Chinese authorities do not want to formally prohibit their nationals living abroad from returning to the mother-country, but they do everything to discourage them. Thus, since March 2020, more than 98 % of international flights at the start or bound for China have been canceled, and ticket prices are prohibitive. Preventing the Chinese from going out is a way of limiting the number of feedback to come. In 2021, China counted 74 million admissions and exit from its territory, a figure of 79 % than that of 2019, before the pandemic. Similarly, in the first half of 2021, the country delivered only 335,000 passports, or 2 % of the total issued to the 1 semester of 2019. Symbolically, President XI Jinping is Not even out of the country since January 2020.
Passeports kept at the police station
But this policy is part of a broader framework. On behalf of the fight against corruption, more and more officials, members of the Communist Party or executives working in public enterprises no longer have the right to keep their passport at home but must give it to the police station. During the trip made to China in June 2018 by Edouard Philippe, then Prime Minister, French business leaders complained to the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang that their Chinese counterparts were no longer allowed to travel. “We invite the CEO, and it is the director of marketing who comes,” said a French boss. “The more we are raised in the hierarchy, the less we can travel,” sums up a Chinese framework. Zero covid policy has drastically accentuated this practice. At the end of March, the province of Hunan, in the center of the country, ordered all passport holders to put them back to the police “until the end of the pandemic”.
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