Borders busier in first half of year
More than 129 million people crossed China's borders in the first six months, 30.78 per cent more than last year.
Statistics from the Exit-Entry of the Ministry of Public Security reveals that more than 26.3 million of those people were Chinese mainlanders, 84.5 million Hong Kong and Macau residents, 3.35 million Taiwan residents and 14.79 million foreigners.
The figures are much higher than those from last year's SARS-tainted numbers, during which an obvious decline was seen for the first time in 13 years of continual growth, said a the ministry official who declined to be identified.
This year's increase can also be attributed to simplified examination procedures at border checkpoints, he added.
However, the growth may simply be caused by easier access to passports and visas by Chinese citizens, said Xiang Dang, a professor with the China People's Public Security University.
By the end of 2005, citizens in all large or medium-sized Chinese cities could apply for passports freely, , said the ministry.
At the same time, some 28 foreign countries have become approved tourism destinations for groups of Chinese citizens, said Xiang.
Also, higher incomes have allowed more and more Chinese people to travel abroad.
Statistics show that the number of exits from the Chinese mainland rose 62.65 per cent to 13.33 million. More than 73 per cent of them went to Hong Kong or Macao.
Meanwhile, Japan was the leading foreign destination, followed by Russia, Thailand, ROK, Viet Nam, the United States and Singapore, it said.
Recreational travel and business trips accounted for 20.69 per cent and 19.30 per cent of the exit flow, the administration said.
On the other hand, China also attracted more overseas people to invest, Xiang noted.
More than 7.47 million people from 225 countries and regions entered China during the first six months this year, 61 per cent more than last year. The largest flow of people came from Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK), 19 per cent and 16.7 per cent respectively.
Countries that also had a high percentage of entry applicants were Russia, the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Mongolia, Thailand and Britain, statistics showed.
About 40.7 per cent of the entries were for sight-seeing and recreation; 16.69 per cent were on business trips, it said.
Still, some 35,200 violators and criminal suspects were caught at border checkpoints this year. Of those, 2,988 were illegal exit-and-entry cases.
The growth in arrests shows that China's borders have tightened examinations, said professor Xiang, adding human smuggling is still growing around the world.