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December 4, 2014

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Guangzhou police intensify efforts to crack down on illegal foreigners

POLICE in Guangzhou, capital of south China Guangdong Province, have intensified an ongoing crackdown on foreigners who enter, live or work illegally in the city.

Guangzhou has the third largest number of foreigners on the mainland following Beijing and Shanghai with about 118,000 registered, according to police.

However, a university professor told China Central Television in May that the number of Africans alone could be more than 150,000.

African merchants are drawn to Guangzhou due to its close proximity to factories and other manufacturing facilities and very cheap products, CCTV said, adding that the city’s African community — 16,000 are registered — is the largest in Asia.

Many African merchants sell products bought in Guangzhou in their home countries.

CCTV quoted Professor Li Zhigang, of Guangzhou-based Sun Yat-sen University, who has been studying African immigration since 2006, as saying the number of Africans in the city was set to swell in the next few years.

Li said Africans contributed to the city’s economic development, but also put pressure on urban management and social resources. He also said some illegal immigrants engaged in criminal behavior.

The city’s police have established a special team targeting unregistered foreigners, yesterday’s Yangcheng Evening News reported.

It has 30 SWAT officers, as well as plainclothes policemen and foreign language experts.

Their job is to question foreigners and check their documentation.

Police said that after the original crackdown was launched, some Africans had moved to areas outside the capital.

The management of foreigners is still in its early stages although China’s reform and opening-up began more than 30 years ago, an unnamed Guangzhou exit and entry official told the newspaper.

The official said some criminals changed their identities when entering China, and Guangzhou authorities had been using a new picture comparison system since last year, but it still needed to be improved.

He said that some Africans behave violently and even attack police when being questioned, and three SWAT officer are usually at the scene when an African is being questioned.

Sometimes five thin policemen cannot control one African who is tall and strong, the official said.

The newspaper said the city’s police force was seeking help from other authorities because they were not able to manage such a large number of foreigners.

Under Chinese law, Chinese who provide accommodation to foreigners who enter, work or live in China illegally will be detained for up to 10 days and fined up to 20,000 yuan (US$3,249).

In June 2012, more than 100 Africans gathered outside a police station in Guangzhou, causing traffic jams, as they protested at the sudden death of a Nigerian man at the station.

According to local media, the Nigerian had refused to pay a motorcycle taxi fare and a fight broke out.

Police said he had suddenly fallen into a coma at the police station and died despite efforts to revive him.

In 2009, more than 100 Africans rallied outside the same station after reports that an African man jumped to his death from his residence to avoid passport checks.


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