Project Description

Budapest, Hungary: Li’s emigration trip (3)


Chinese illegal immigrantIn early 1992, Li arrives in Hungary’s beautiful capital, Budapest. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union leaves many eastern European countries’ migration policies in chaos, spurring the meteoric rise of both formal and informal Chinese migration and trade networks. While just two years earlier there were virtually no Chinese migrants in Hungary, there are about 50,000 at the time of Li’s arrival.

Stay or go?
Walking along Budapest’s vibrant open-air markets, Li sees numerous Chinese, Vietnamese, Arabs, Russians, Gypsies, and Hungarians, all buying, selling, shouting and chatting. He meets two Chinese, a father and his son. Like Li, they are from Wenzhou, and they just started a restaurant in Budapest; one of the 1,500 official Chinese businesses that registered in only the past few years. Business is going well and they suggest that Li stays in Budapest and works with them at the restaurant.

Right when Li decides to stay and give it a go, he hears about Hungary’s planned re-introduction of strict visa policies. Forced to change his plans, Li travels on to Germany.

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