An opinion piece in the Guardian plainly states that

Although China has the lowest immigration in the world (migrants account for just 0.07% of the population), the authorities impose harsh “migrant management”. African migrants can often be criminalised in a similar way to the internal migrants from the countryside. Apart from immigration checks and crackdowns, the authorities consistently discourage migrants from living in certain neighbourhoods. There is no legal protection against racial discrimination.

It's not too clear to me how that statement is to be interpreted. Basically, is that a lack of laws on the books or is it talking about their actual/arbitrary enforcement (at the whim of the authorities)?

  • 2
    Not a close voter, but... while this could be fitting for Law, please better tie this into politics for us.
    – CGCampbell
    May 19, 2020 at 23:40
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    @CGCampbell: no because it's not clear if it's talking about laws or their enforcement. May 19, 2020 at 23:45
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    You say "African migrants can often be criminalised in a similar way to the internal migrants from the countryside.", which would seem to disprove your claim of racial discrimination. If African migrants were treated differently, THAT would be racial discrimination, or discrimination based on nationality.
    – jamesqf
    May 20, 2020 at 0:54
  • @jamesqf: I'm not saying it, the quote is (and it's part of the reason why I found it confusing). May 20, 2020 at 0:55
  • FWIW, one of the main forms of discrimination in China that is relevant is religious discrimination (especially, but not only, anti-Muslim religious discrimination).
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 23, 2022 at 20:31

1 Answer 1


Apparently, there are at least some legislative issues/voids (without even talking about enforcement), at least from the Western perspective. The OCHR Committee (on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination) co-rapporteur for China, Nicolás Marugán said in a 2018 conference that

The domestic legislation did not define racial discrimination in line with the Convention, remarked Mr. Marugán, and while ethnic discrimination was prohibited, the law was silent on the type of action or behaviour that constituted discrimination. Would China enact laws that would prohibit discrimination on all grounds, including on the grounds of descent and national origin, and draft an anti-discrimination law? Was there any data available on discrimination against ethnic minorities in the areas of employment, education, housing, health care, and access to social services and economic opportunities?

A Chinese delegate responded to that:

On the definition of racial discrimination and the anti-racial discrimination law, a delegate said that China had a comprehensive legal system underpinned by the Constitution to promote ethnic equality and prohibit racial discrimination in line with the spirit of the Convention, whose provisions had been fully implemented under a range of laws, including the Law on Regional National Autonomy, Electoral Law, Labour Law, Public Security Administration Punishments Law, and others. Though there was no definition of “racial discrimination”, the understanding and interpretation of “racial discrimination” by the legislature, judicial authority and the administrative departments was consistent with the Convention, said the delegate.

(I've omitted the part(s) about the anti-terror laws in the conference, which the committee co-rapporteurs also expressed concerned were being used in a discriminatory manner, e.g. against Uyghurs, which China obviously also denied is the case.)

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