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Report Notes Dramatic Increase in Chinese Migration to Europe

A report by the Geneva-based International Organization for Migration shows that the number of Chinese nationals migrating to Europe has increased dramatically over the past decade.

In 2000, the International Organization for Migration, or IOM, says an estimated 200,000 Chinese were living legally in western Europe. The number is relatively small, compared with Chinese living in North America and Australia. But researchers agree that there has been a huge increase in flows to Europe in the past decade.

For example, the study shows the number of Chinese residents in Italy rose by 260 percent over the last 10 years. There has been a six-fold increase in Spain during the same period.

IOM Spokesman Jean-Philippe Chauzy says large numbers of Chinese students and skilled migrants have been attracted to northern Europe. In Britain, he says some 18,000 Chinese students are enrolled in institutions of higher learning, and make up the country's largest national group of foreign students.

Mr. Chauzy says most Chinese students do not return home after they complete their studies, but take up employment in the destination country. He says this is a growing concern for Chinese authorities.

"There will be some consequences, of course, in terms of the 'brain drain.' One has to bear in mind that every single time you have a qualified student that stays and finds a job in western Europe, that contributes to the 'brain drain' in China," he said.

IOM attributes the increased migration of nationals to Europe to China's rapid economic growth. It says more Chinese families can afford to pay for education abroad. Also, European educational establishments are actively seeking tuition fees from foreign students.

Mr. Chauzy says central and eastern European countries traditionally have been a steppingstone for migrants heading to western Europe. But now that some of these countries will soon become members of the European Union, he says, an increasing number of Chinese are choosing to remain and try their luck with what they see as emerging economies.