China / Society

Most Chinese favor scrutinizing foreigners: poll

(Xinhua) Updated: 2012-05-22 17:07

BEIJING - Ninety-four percent of participants in a recent online survey agreed that the financial conditions, real estate assets and job status of foreigners living in China should be more closely scrutinized.

More than 6,000 netizens have responded to a poll created on Monday by outspoken children's writer Zheng Yuanjie on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese microblogging site.

Zheng kept the poll simple, limiting it to a single question with two choices: maintain the "status quo" of China's visa policy, or implement a stricter examination process.

Although some angry respondents cited examples of unqualified foreign teachers "lazing away" as language instructors at English training schools, other netizens criticized the poll's "biased and populist" nature.

A netizen using the name "chenlianhua" chastised Zheng for his "closed-door mentality," while another respondent using the name "nelnel" said foreigners' criminal records, rather than their financial assets, should be more closely scrutinized.

The number of foreigners coming to China has increased significantly since the country implemented its opening-up and reform policies in the late 1970s.

Official figures indicate that the number of foreigners entering China jumped from 740,000 in 1980 to 27.11 million last year, with an average annual increase of 10 percent over the last decade. As of 2011, over 4,700 foreigners were issued permanent residence permits in China.

More than 20,000 foreigners were found to enter, reside or work in China illegally last year, figures from the Ministry of Public Security show.

A source from the ministry claimed that illegal residents tend to be from neighboring countries and are typically employed as foreign language teachers, entertainers or housekeepers.

The lack of a national database for foreign residents and a shortage of foreign language-speaking police officers have made the identification of illegal foreign residents more difficult, the source said.

China's top legislature recently began deliberating changes to laws concerning the entrance, residence and working status of foreigners in order to "cope with new conditions."

The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee has reviewed twice a draft law that combines two separate current laws regulating entry and exit procedures for Chinese nationals and foreigners, respectively.

A recent report submitted to the NPC Standing Committee by the State Council, or China's cabinet, proposes ramping up legislative efforts and creating an information database for the purpose of strengthening management over foreigners entering and exiting the country.

Hou Jianguo, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, said strengthening management does not imply a "raised threshold" for foreigners who wish to enter China.

"Efforts are being directed at both facilitating entries for financial, recreational and academic purposes and reducing the number of people who are illegally entering, residing or working in China," he said.

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