SHENZHEN: A growing number of people are attempting to enter China illegally, an official with the exit-entry inspection station here has said.
The official, who did not want to be named, cited the country's booming economy, stable society and low cost of living as possible factors for the influx.
According to official figures, 431 foreigners were repatriated in the first half of this year. They were discovered either attempting to enter the country, or already working here without the legal right to do so, the official said.
The numbers are more than twice what they were for the same period last year, he said.
On December 5, immigration officers prevented two women holding fake Canadian passports from entering Shenzhen by ferry from Hong Kong.
The women claimed they were born in South America, but their Asian appearance aroused the suspicion of border officials.
They also failed to answer officials' questions in fluent English, the official said.
The women later admitted they were Indian and had gone to Shenzhen in search of work.
Many people from the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and India come to Shenzhen in the hope of finding work, the official said.
They are attracted by China's relatively high salaries and work opportunities, he said.
Earlier in the year, customs officers stopped a Nigerian man as he tried to enter Hong Kong through a checkpoint in Huanggang, Shenzhen, with his Chinese fianc.
He had been working as an English teacher on the mainland, before paying an agent to get him a South African passport, the official said.
Holders of Nigerian passports cannot apply for long-term work permits in China.
The man, who had also lived in Malaysia, Singapore and Kenya, was encouraged to move to China by his older brother, who was working in Weihai, Shandong Province.
"Some of the illegals are attracted by China's special culture and have a strong desire to live and work in our country," the official said. "However, passport holders of some countries are not allowed to live or work in China for long periods, so they attempt to enter the country illegally."
Border inspectors have also found foreigners engaged in illegal activities, such as smuggling counterfeit goods and even drug trafficking, he said.