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Special Feature

Establishing the National Immigration Administration: Change and Continuity in China’s Immigration Reforms

Tabitha Speelman
p. 7-16

Abstract

In 2018, the Chinese government established the National Immigration Administration, the country’s first national-level agency dedicated to immigration affairs. Relying on policy analysis and expert interviews, this article examines to what extent the arrival of the NIA and the first years of its operation signal a new state approach to immigration, so far characterised by a narrow focus on exit-entry management and control. While the NIA is normalising a more comprehensive state discourse on immigration, its dependent position within the Chinese bureaucracy and the continued sensitivity of China’s young status as an immigrant destination country hinder more fundamental reforms.

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Editor's notes

Manuscript received on 2 October 2019. Accepted on 13 August 2020.

Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on December 2021.

Outline

The Chinese state and immigration
Methodology
Building the NIA: New discourse, familiar politics
Establishment
Structure
Discourse
Policy agenda
Evaluating the NIA: “Overdue” and “controversial”
Conclusion: The significance of the NIA for China’s immigration reform

First lines

On 2 April 2018, Chinese officials standing along Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue unveiled the name sign for China’s first national-level agency dedicated to immigration affairs, the National Immigration Administration (NIA, Guojia yimin guanliju 国家移民管理局). State media called the establishment of the agency, part of a larger government overhaul, an “important milestone” in the Chinese state’s attitude towards immigration, which in past decades has combined minimal legislation with a mix of restrictive and laissez faire enforcement. However, the NIA’s name sign hangs under the ivy-covered gate of the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the police authorities who have long dominated China’s cautious post-socialist exit-entry regime. Next to it hangs the sign of the People’s Republic Exit-Entry Administration, previously the primary government organ dealing with immigrants, which continues to exist as an administrative entity under the NIA. This institutional embedding made experts suspect tha...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Tabitha Speelman, « Establishing the National Immigration Administration: Change and Continuity in China’s Immigration Reforms », China Perspectives, 2020/4 | 2020, 7-16.

Electronic reference

Tabitha Speelman, « Establishing the National Immigration Administration: Change and Continuity in China’s Immigration Reforms », China Perspectives [Online], 2020/4 | 2020, Online since 01 December 2021, connection on 11 May 2021. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/chinaperspectives/11103 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/chinaperspectives.11103

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About the author

Tabitha Speelman

Tabitha Speelman, PhD-candidate at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies, Matthias de Vrieshof 3, 2311 BZ Leiden, The Netherlands.j.t.speelman@hum.leidenuniv.nl

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Copyright

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