China to Increase Visa Checks. Again

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 22:55
Posted in category The Big Picture

Twitter was all a buzz with news of a 100 day campaign to root out foreigners living in China illegally. According to the China Daily:

Popular Beijing spots for foreigners, such as Sanlitun and university areas, will be targeted by police in a fresh drive against visitors who commit crimes, outstay their visas or gain illegal employment, authorities said on Monday.

For some, it was a sign that China was after “them”, a feeling that certainly has resonated in the journo community following the Melissa Chen affair, but after 10 years in China and a memory of 3-4 formal visa check campaigns, I am pretty confident this will turn out to be a non-event for most.

Where this announcement is tangentially interesting to me though is that after going through the process of re-upping my visa several months back, it became to clear to me that CHina had taken stps forward towards integrating all the systems which manage foreigners.  The subject of an interesting article last month

In short, the computers are now syncing.  A fact proven by the fact that when I was processing my residential permit at the local PSB my immigration picture flashed on the screen.  indicating that not only does immigration know your entry/ exit details, but also has access to your work permit, residential permit, and all the data required of each department (mobile phone, address, etc).

So, in a sense, with all this information it is theoretically possible that this 100 day campaign is nothing but a test of their abilities to take the database and extract those who are overstaying, checking on a few tourists who are in the wrong place (like in an English School), those who are standing on the street corners of Sanlitun, or going to language schools to see who is actually attending classes.

Which is to say that while the timing could have certainly been better, I do not see any reason for anyone to panic or to be offended, if asked for your credentials.  It is a small, perhaps slightly inconvenient, request and given how easy China has made it for many to get in, it should come no surprise that campaigns like this may need to take place.

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One Response to “China to Increase Visa Checks. Again”

  1. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    May 16th, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Not a problem for anyone employed and working in China legally. Why be otherwise? It’s not that hard. – CDE