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Ecuador suspends visa agreement with China in view of significant increase in immigrants from the Asian giant

The move comes amid a growing influx of undocumented Chinese migrants to the United States.

Ecuador suspende acuerdo de visas con China ante aumento importante de inmigrantes provenientes del gigante asiático


In a move that could help control the migration crisis in the United States, Ecuador temporarily suspended a visa waiver agreement with China citing a "worrying increase" of immigrants from the Asian giant who ultimately did not leave via "regular routes" or within the allowed ninety days.

Ecuador's Foreign Ministry reported that, in total, nearly half of the Chinese travelers ended up staying illegally in the country or left Ecuador via illegal routes, such as the Darien Gap, an inhospitable and treacherous jungle that separates Colombia and Panama and serves as an illegal route to the United States.

Specifically, of 66,000 Chinese travelers who entered Ecuador last year, only 34,000 left through regular channels, Ecuadorian authorities reported.

Apparently, many Chinese travelers used the Ecuador-China visa agreement to cross the Darien and travel to the United States. In the jungle, migrants are exposed to organized crime, human trafficking, sexual violence, the risks posed by the jungle itself and myriad other dangers along the way.

As reported by the Financial Times, many migrants from all over the world have headed to the United States by first traveling to Ecuador a country that has fewer visa restrictions than other South American countries.

According to the newspaper, Chinese migrants are increasingly joining this significant influx at the southern border where citizens are arriving from South America, Central America and the Middle East.

In 2023, the number of Chinese attempting to cross the U.S. southern border skyrocketed, with Customs and Border Protection detaining more than 37,000 Chinese nationals, ten times more than in 2022.

Ecuadorian officials reported that the temporary suspension will take effect on July 1 stating that the South American country "reiterates its commitment so that people who visit the country can do so with adequate security guarantees, preventing them from being victims of human trafficking or migrant smuggling."

In response to a question about the suspension of the visa agreement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said the agreement with Quito "plays an important and positive role in promoting cross-border travel and practical co-operation between the two countries."

The China-Ecuador visa waiver agreement has been in place since 2016. With the suspension of the program, Suriname now has become the only country in the South American continent to grant visa-free travel permits to Chinese citizens.