The COVID-19 lockdowns initiated by Chinese authorities were supposed to contain the coronavirus that had killed millions of people worldwide. Instead, the increasingly restrictive rules forced thousands of Chinese citizens to reconsider life under an authoritarian government and make the difficult decision to leave their homes, family and country — what they call “runology.” In this VOA special report, 12 Chinese people describe the risks, sacrifices and perilous treks across thousands of miles for better lives in new countries.
Authoritarianism. Strict COVID-19 policies. Media censorship. These are some of the reasons that forced thousands of Chinese people to flee the only country they ever knew to seek better lives in new nations. Many lived in fear. Some felt imprisoned, until they all finally reached the same conclusion — “I have to leave.”
A growing number of Chinese migrants in recent years have traveled thousands of miles to South America, where they begin a dangerous trek to the United States. Their journey begins in Ecuador and through Colombia, and then the long route north through Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala in Central America. The final leg of the journey is Mexico, where the route leads to the U.S. border toward their American dreams.
Listen to their stories