Last year there were 2,415 applications for asylum from Chinese nationals. This figure represented a drop of about a third on the previous year.
Only a small proportion of those applying for asylum were granted leave to stay – the figure being 175 people.
Country background: China is the world's most populous country. During the past two decades it has experienced a period of rapid economic change but this has not been matched by political reform.
According to Amnesty International serious human rights abuses increased in China in 2001, and human rights campaigners say China continues to carry out a campaign of repression against those it deems a threat to political stability and public order.
They also accuse the authorities of the systematic destruction of Tibetan Buddhist culture and the restriction of religious freedoms as well as freedom of expression and association.
The absence of effective social welfare provisions in the country has left many of workers who have lost their jobs in recent years facing dire poverty.
The suffering has sparked the growth of ruthless gangs called snakeheads who charge up $30,000 to smuggle Chinese migrants to the West.