With the development of China's economy since 1979, a new type of Chinese migration has emerged, which is more diversified and quite distinct from previous migration patterns. Trafficking in human beings and other forms of irregular migration are one of the most pressing and complex human rights issues today, reaching across borders and affecting most of the countries in the world, with new and serious security implications. As part of the international irregular migration flows toward and into the European Union (EU), the Chinese, particularly from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, have played a major role since the 1980s. To some extent, it could be said that China provides the largest number of East Asian irregular immigrants to Europe.

Based on fieldwork conducted in southern China over the past seven years, this paper proposes to examine current Chinese irregular migration trends. It will further present the Government's response regarding the migratory modus operandi and policy implications with the aim of offering policy makers an empirical insight into the most active region of emigration in China. Because of the difficulty and sensitivity involved in collecting data on the topic, materials in this paper are mainly based on a content analysis of local Chinese newspapers and my interviews with various people involved in irregular migration activities, such as “snakeheads”, illegal migrants and their family members, and police, local, and government officials at different levels.