According to official information published by the channel between 2023 and so far in 2024, 66,089 Chinese citizens entered Ecuador and 34,209 left. Almost half, 32,000, did not register their departure through regular steps.

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In 2022, Ecuador had documented the entry of some 13,000 Chinese citizens.

Furthermore, in the last year only 115 Chinese citizens obtained a temporary residence visa in Ecuador.

To support his decision, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador referred to the increase in migratory flows coming from China and confirmed that approximately 50% of these people did not report their departure from the country. At this point, it should be noted that The Chinese are allowed 90 days to stay in Ecuador from their entry.

A U.S. Border Patrol officer watches as migrants from China and Africa get off a bus as they arrive at a train station in San Diego, California, on October 10, 2023. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN/ AFP).


“For this reason, they would be in the country in an irregular situation or would have left through irregular routes to other destinations in the hemisphere,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. .

The Foreign Ministry also told the media that several international reports and immigration institutions indicate that the majority of the flow of Chinese citizens moves to USAmainly through the jungle Darien. They do so after contacting and paying organizations that are dedicated to migrant smuggling and human trafficking.

The measure will come into force from July 1. It is temporary and the suspension time will depend on the evolution of the dynamics of migratory flows from China, indicated the Foreign Ministry.

After the announcement of Ecuadorthe spokesperson for the Government of China, Lin Jiansaid that Beijing firmly opposes all forms of human trafficking and stressed that his country made efforts to curb it.

China firmly opposes any type of trafficking activity. In recent years, China’s law enforcement agencies have cracked down on crimes that impede border management. “They have maintained a high-pressure stance against various trafficking organizations and criminals involved in these activities and have achieved notable results,” Lin said in a statement. .

Lin maintained that the visa exemption for Chinese had helped improve exchange and cooperation with Ecuador in various fields.

A group of people, including many from China, walk along the wall after crossing the border with Mexico on October 24, 2023. (Photo: AP / Gregory Bull).

A group of people, including many from China, walk along the wall after crossing the border with Mexico on October 24, 2023. (Photo: AP / Gregory Bull).

How are relations with China?

Mauricio Salvador-Alarcónexecutive director of the Citizenship and Development Foundation, told Trade that the situation of these Chinese citizens who have entered under the current conditions and have not registered their departure is unknown. “There is little information and data on migration that allows us to know what has happened to them,” he indicated.

As to whether relations with the Asian giant will be affected or not after their country’s decision, Salvador-Alarcón indicated that it is important to note that A few weeks ago Ecuador signed and ratified a Free Trade Agreement with China.

“It is a relatively new issue that was handled at the time, in terms of the negotiations, with a lot of secrecy, little transparency before citizens and civil society. Now, coming out with a measure of these, within what it means to open up to the world as a country, I think it does leave us very vulnerable. It will be necessary to see in practice whether this negatively impacts the national economy or the effective application of the FTA with China,” he noted.

Why and how have thousands of Chinese arrived in Ecuador?

Until now, Ecuador and Surinam are the only countries of South America that do not require visa to Chinese citizens.

In a report from December 2023, the American newspaper based on data from US and Panama immigration authorities, assured that that year a greater number of Chinese entered the United States through the Darien Gap; They were only surpassed by Venezuelans, Ecuadorians and haitians.

The Darien jungle.  (AFP).

The Darien jungle. (AFP).

More than 24,000 Chinese migrants were temporarily detained on the southern border of USA in fiscal year 2023, . In the previous decade, fewer than 15,000 Chinese immigrants were caught illegally crossing the border with Mexico; That is, about 1,500 per year, the NYT stated.

The newspaper added that currently the starting point of the Chinese who cross the Darien Gap It’s Ecuador.

The media said that Chinese migrants come from a lower middle class background. They fear falling into poverty if the Chinese economy worsens and that they no longer saw a future for themselves or their children in their country of origin.

The NYT told the story of Gao Zhibin and his daughter, who left Beijing on February 24, 2023 in search of a better life. Over the next 35 days, they traveled through nine countries by plane, train, boat, bus and on foot.. They arrived on American soil at the end of March.

Gao said he traveled to Ecuador because he had seen posts on social media that mentioned Chinese arriving in the United States through the Darien Gap. He and his daughter applied for passports and, a few weeks later, flew to Istanbul (Türkiye) and from there to Quito. Then they left for the Darién, crossed Central America, Mexico, until they reached their final destination.

The majority of Chinese request asylum in the United States after crossing the border.

Up to $20,000 to reach the US.

The American chain reported in January of this year that in Ecuador There is a cottage industry of companies that cater to Chinese travelers, starting with picking them up at the airport, arranging their stay in hostels run by their compatriots and the final journey to the north of the continent.

At one of the shelters, where a night with meals costs about US$20, CNN found that there were maps printed in Chinese and instructions posted on a wall detailing each stage of the journey. The owner calculated that in Quito there are 100 small businesses like hers that serve chinese travelersincluding those preparing to head north.

As for the payments they must make, CNN reported that Chinese who make the trip on their own spend between $3,000 and $5,000. That includes flights from Asia to countries like Türkiyethen they come to Ecuador. They usually hire a guide to cross the jungle of Darien. This is the riskiest route and may take the longest.

Those who have more money pay between US$9,000 and US$12,000 to smugglers to organize transportation for part of the trip to USA, as well as a boat and guide for the optional rainforest trek, all included. With this option you can avoid having to walk through the Darienindicates CNN.

There is also a “premium package” of at least US$20,000. In this case, the route is easier. The smuggler helps obtain a multiple entry visa to Japan, which automatically allows visa-free entry into Mexico, and transportation to the border. It completely avoids Darien.