(TheLibertyRevolution.com)- According to the United Nations, the number of Chinese nationals seeking political asylum abroad skyrocketed during the ten years following Xi Jinping becoming General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012.
The figures from the UN’s refugee agency found that in the year Xi took office, only about 12,000 Chinese nationals sought asylum. But by 2021, that number rose to nearly 120,000.
Amnesty International defines an “asylum seeker” as someone who left his native country to seek protection from persecution and human rights abuses abroad but hasn’t yet been legally recognized as a refugee.
About one million people worldwide seek asylum every year. Once their applications have been processed, asylum seekers are legally recognized as refugees and receive relevant protections.
In the ten years since Xi took power in 2012, about 730,000 Chinese nationals have sought asylum overseas with over 193,000 living outside of China under refugee status.
According to the human rights group Safeguard Defenders which focuses on China’s human rights abuses, the United States is by far the most popular choice of country for asylum seekers. Last year, 88,722 Chinese nationals sought asylum in the United States. Australia was the next choice, with 15,774 Chinese nationals seeking asylum there in 2021.
According to Safeguard Defenders researcher Jing-jie Chen, the increased number of asylum seekers last year reflects the impact China’s “zero COVID” lockdowns have had on the population.
However, the group has warned that the growing number of Chinese nationals fleeing the country has increased the risk of transnational repression, including the use of involuntary returns to China.
According to Chen, since taking office, Xi Jinping has extended on a global level his “Operation Foxhunt” plan that forces Chinese nationals to return to the country.
Using its overseas network, China targets ethnic groups like the Muslim Uyghurs, as well as political dissidents, journalists, rights activists, and former officials to ensure they are returned to the country.