Accepted Paper:

A crisis of asylum: Hong Kong and elsewhere  
Gordon Mathews (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Paper long abstract:

The number of asylum seekers from South Asia and Africa has quadrupled in Hong Kong over the past two years: there is today a crisis. Some asylum seekers are fleeing political, ethnic or religious persecution, while others are seeking to make a better living. Asylum seekers may wait many years for their cases to be decided, a situation benefiting economic asylum seekers, who work, but harming political asylum seekers, who are terrified of working since they may be caught and sent home. In this paper, based on four years' fieldwork among asylum seekers in Hong Kong, I examine why they have come, how they survive, and what their future holds. I also explore global issues through Hong Kong's prism. Should economic as well as political reasons be a legitimate reason for seeking asylum? What would be the ultimate global consequences of throwing open the world's borders?

Panel W061
East Asian imaginings: (trans)national scenarios and global crisis