GUANGZHOU, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- There are about 80,000 foreign nationals living in Guangzhou, capital of south China's Guangdong Province, according to the city's police bureau.
As China's major trade center, the city has been an important base for foreign nationals living in China. It is known for having a large African community.
The bureau said there are currently 15,000 Africans living in the city. Egypt, Mali, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are the major sources of African expatriates. Most are engaged in trade or study in the city.
The influx of African nationals began in 2006 when Beijing Summit of the Forum on Sino-African Cooperation was held, attended by heads of state and senior officials from 48 African countries.
Official statistics show that in 2009, about 20,000 Africans lived in the city, but the real number, including illegal immigrants and overstayers, is believed to have been much higher.
The African population has decreased as police have tightened enforcement on illegal immigration. Meanwhile, the cost of living and doing business in the city has also been on the rise.
Currently, half of foreign nationals in Guangzhou are from Europe, Japan or the Republic of Korea, according to the bureau.
Niu Baozeng, an entry and exit administration official, said that the number of foreign nationals in Guangzhou has been on the rise in the past three years. Criminal cases involving foreign nationals have gone down.
The bureau said among 1,000 illegal immigrants detained last year, most were from South East Asian countries such as Vietnam and Myanmar.