are different types of international migrants: (1) professionals/international students; (2) contracted labourers through legal recruiting agencies, who mostly go to Japan, America, Singapore, Korea, Israel, Mauritius, Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands; (3) short-term visitors either in business, short time work or visits to family; and (4) irregular migrants — their numbers are never clearly enumerated but a reasonable guess is about 400,000 (Luo, 2003).
There is a lack of clear and systematic information about short term and short distance cross border mobility. The information found was scattered in journal articles, mostly about cross-border trading. China actually has a long history of sending labour forces abroad, mostly from the south coastal area. After the opening up and economic reform, more young people went abroad from less traditional sending areas. In NE China, the major cross-border activity is as follows:
From Jilin Province (mainly Yanbian) and Heilongjiang Province to South Korea, North Korea, Russia, Japan, and Malaysia, for work and trade (Zheng, 1999).
From Jilin to Russia, mainly to work in agriculture, about 9000 person/trips3 each year (Yang and Yin, 1999).
In the border cities, short-term cross-border activity for the purpose of trading has been increasingly reported during recent years.
Table 1 lists the cities with the most frequent cross-border activity. The major sending place, that is, the exact city or county, still needs to be identified.
Table 1: Major ports of trading or of active cross border activity along the border of studied area
Source: Compiled by Zheng for the UNDP project, 2004.
In this paper, the focus is on the highly mobile cross-border traffic associated with trading, visiting relatives and friends or picking up short-term ‘illegal’ work. The major interactions covered here are with Mongolia, Russia, North Korea, Central Asia and
3 The data is usually reported by custom, which only enumerates number of passes, but does not identify those who passed several times.