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Fingerprinting of foreign visitors gets started at Shenzhen's Bao'an Airport

By Zhou Mo in Shenzhen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-11 07:13

The new policy of collecting foreign passport holders' fingerprints upon their arrival in China went into effect on Friday in pilot ports of entry including Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport.

The policy will be rolled out in other ports across the country by the end of this year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

Foreigners ages 14 to 70 are fingerprinted upon entering China. Diplomatic passport holders and beneficiaries of reciprocal agreements are exempted.

Foreigners arriving at the airport in Shenzhen on Friday had to submit first the four fingerprints on their left hands, then the four on their right hands, and finally their thumb prints.

Zhang Jie, a professor at People's Public Security University in Beijing who specializes in the study of exit and entry policies, thought Shenzhen was selected to test the initiative because of its relatively long history of openness, which makes it more open to accepting new things.

In addition, passenger flow at airport in Shenzhen is significantly less than in Beijing or Shanghai, making it a more suitable testing site, she said.

Victor Olsen, of Singapore, was among the first group of foreign travelers to undergo fingerprinting in Shenzhen and said it was very efficient.

"There were signs and people to guide us to the area. It only took one minute to get my fingerprints," he said.

"I totally understand the move and believe it is quite necessary to implement such a policy, as it is an effective way to strengthen border control and ensure security."

Another passenger, Ming Low, of Malaysia, said that the new fingerprinting requirement did not cause any delay for her and that such a move to enhance security should be supported.

However, Sai Subbaraju, of India, who also arrived in China at the airport in Shenzhen on Friday, wondered whether the initiative might lead to infringements of passengers' privacy.

"I'm concerned that the fingerprints collected may be misused or leaked," he said.

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