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'Green card' system still young

China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-08 14:01

The Ministry of Public Security reportedly granted 1,576 foreigners permanent residence in 2016, up 163 percent on the previous year.

Such an increase in the approved applications for foreigners to gain permanent residence in China is a result of the country's fast development, increasing attractiveness and more open environment. By owning such "green cards", foreigners working and living in China have the same rights as Chinese citizens, except for political rights.

For many years, gaining a Chinese green card has been difficult, due to the high threshold, lengthy application procedure and limited quotas. But this has gone against the fact that China's development has relied on foreign talent.

Aside from sports, China's universities and research institutions have also stepped up their appointments of foreign professionals, such as via the Recruitment Program for Foreign Experts initiated in late 2008 to attract high-level talents from overseas. As China provides more opportunities for foreigners, a growing number of foreigners are choosing China for investment and business; which means it should upgrade its old system for the management of foreign talents.

In fact, since September 2015 when the authorities issued guidelines for improving the management system for foreigners, China has increased the number of green cards issued to foreigners.

However, issuing only 1,576 green cards a year is far from enough to meet the country's current needs. The government should increase the annual quota and, more importantly, increase the "gold content" of these cards to offer the holders greater conveniences in finance, healthcare and legal services.

Compared with countries such as the United States, China's green card system is still in its early stages and continuous improvements should be made to it.

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