Photo Credit: Nicoco Chan

Who are the Chinese Diaspora in Ukraine?

The trade, education, and human connections between China and Ukraine—in infographics

According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, over 3,000 Chinese nationals have escaped from Ukraine into neighboring countries since evacuations began on March 1. Many of them are accompanied by Ukrainian spouses and children, as per a March 2 notice from the Chinese embassy that allowed evacuees to bring along immediate family members of other nationalities.

Back home, many Chinese have watched news of the war in Ukraine with both empathy and curiosity, occasionally expressing surprise at the number of Chinese students, businesspeople, and Chinese-Ukrainian families in the country. Some netizens have been criticized for making sexualized “crotch nationalist” comments about wanting to marry female Ukrainian refugees, while others have called for peace. Major Chinese news outlets and magazines have carried interviews with a diverse cross-section of Chinese expatriates and travelers in Ukraine on their experiences of the past week: from architecture students, to workers in amber mines, to parents waiting to pick up their infant from surrogate mothers.

Who are Ukraine’s Chinese diaspora? Some of the earliest Chinese to migrate to Ukraine in the modern era were part of the Chinese Labor Corps hired by the Russian Empire, which needed workers to staff factories, build railroads, and labor in mines while its own subjects were fighting in World War I. The post-1980s reform period also saw laid-off factory workers from China’s Northeast take the Trans-Siberian Railway to seek new opportunities in Eastern Europe, later followed by traders from eastern China. Ukrainian universities are well-regarded in China, especially in fields like medicine and music, and in the last 20 years trade relations and tourism have increased between the two countries—though some of these numbers have fallen off in recent years due to prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

These infographics show the multitudes of connections between China and Ukraine, including trade, education, tourism, and families:

Chinese population in Ukraine, Chinese in Ukraine

Chinese students in Ukraine

Chinese-Ukrainian intermarriage couples

China-Ukraine trade

History of Chinese migration to Ukraine

Chinese surrogacy in Ukraine

Chinese tourism to Ukraine

Infographics by Nicoco Chan

Research by Hatty Liu, Alex Colville, Liu Jue (刘珏), Tan Yunfei (谭云飞), Siyi Chu (褚司怡), Yang Tingting (杨婷婷), and Dragos C. Cacio. Written and edited by Hatty Liu.


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