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Illegal immigrant crackdown a new challenge for China
Global Times | May 15, 2012 00:50
By Global Times
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Beijing launched a 100-day crackdown against illegal immigration, residence and employment of foreigners yesterday. This is the first time that China has openly targeted illegal aliens in its capital.

A total of 52.11 million foreigners entered and left China in 2010, 2.33 times as many as 10 years ago. Last year, China cracked down on about 20,000 illegal immigrants. Apparently, China is quickly becoming a new destination for illegal immigrants.

Handling them is a thorny problem worldwide. There is no certain solution to the problem of global immigration, which results from unbalanced global development. Citizens of poor countries make every attempt to move to wealthy countries. Their means are varied and cannot be easily tackled by the law.

The developed countries have worked on the problem for many years, but have not managed to solve it. Obstacles for personnel flow are generally diminishing while countries are reluctant to crack down on illegal immigrants due to pressure from public opinion. Therefore, it's highly unlikely that the problem can be alleviated in the foreseeable future.

It's very difficult for China to deal with the problem. China lacks experience, hasn't made full preparations, and does not even know the exact number of illegal immigrants right now. 

Foreigners have now lived together with Chinese in China. Since various authorities are responsible for the registration and management of these foreigners, it's impossible to trace where they live and work in China. Some illegal immigrants even come to China to commit crimes. But preventing crimes committed by foreigners is still a new topic for China's grass-roots policemen.

China cannot solve a worldwide problem. But it should actively deal with it so as not to be overwhelmed by the problem.

Chinese police should take a tough attitude in the fight against illegal foreigners. In the past, since it was related to diplomacy, China was very cautious when dealing with foreigners' crimes. China should treat this problem with the usual mindset.

On the one hand, China should create favorable and legal conditions for foreigners to live and work in the country. It should share development opportunities with them but not practice exclusionism like some Western countries.  On the other hand, China should be decisive in cracking down on illegal immigrants. It cannot afford to be an immigrant destination at this early stage. 

Illegal immigrants cannot be wiped out by one campaign. But it should serve to curb the problem and become a turning point for Beijing to effectively manage foreigners.  

Mishandling this problem may lead to diplomatic friction, as foreigners are involved. Beijing will obviously be an example for other cities to follow. China is a friendly country, and should avoid misunderstanding from other countries when fighting against illegal immigrants. 

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