Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

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Visa Update

Posted by MyLaowai on Thursday, May 15, 2008

The latest headline from Xinhua, the official Party mouthpiece, reads:

No change in China’s visa policy: official

The ‘report’ goes on to say that:

“There is no change in China’s opening-up policy, nor in its visa policy in line with this policy, ” says a Chinese Foreign Ministry official in Hong Kong.

“The issuing of visas is part of the exercise of national sovereignty,” says Song Ronghua, spokesman of the Office of the Commissioner of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, adding that recently, some appropriate arrangements for issuance of visas have been made with reference to practices of previous hosting countries of the Olympics and other major international sporting events, and in line with China’s relevant laws and regulations.

“Compared with most other countries, it is more convenient to get a Chinese visa,”

I have a friend who knows quite a lot about this subject, as he is a person who is directly involved with the issuing of visas. I met with him a couple of days ago, and he told me quite clearly that in fact, the Party has issued new regulations regarding visas for foreigners.

To start with, students in Beijing who have their visas expire prior to the Olympics, can expect that they will not be renewed until after the Olympics, and must reapply from their home countries.

People from South East Asia and India who want F-visas (also known as Business visas), are having their applications rejected out of hand, because the Party is worried that South East Asians and Indians might have sympathy for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and for the plight of the Tibetan people.

The French are having a hard time of it, too. My friend told me that most French are having their F-visa applications rejected without consideration, and their Tourist (L) visa applications delayed for months, as a punishment for France not siding with the Communist Party in the recent spat over the events in Tibet, and the protests in France. Never mind that France is one of the biggest foreign investors in China. Talk about a dog biting the hand that feeds it.

In fact, all foreigners with an F-visa currently living or working in China are to be told to get out of China and reapply from their home countries, when their visa expires.

There was more, of course, but that’s the main gist of it. I asked my friend why he thought the Party was choosing this particular time to make life hard for foreigners, and he replied that it was made clear to him that the Party no longer felt it needed foreigners here. It seems that the (in)famous Chinese sense of xenophobia is still alive and kicking.


11 Responses to “Visa Update”

  1. Neddy said

    All my links with China have been on personal and family level. Never been a regular member of expat community as such (business, work, study or adventure). So if it affects me, I may have to tough it out. But not everyone else has to, especially not the younger crowd.

    This not really an advice as such, but a suggestion to apply a parallel thinking, by a commenter on a recent CLB post:

    “So go out there and “diversify” your personality, yours skills, your navigational skills, your self, and your options and forget about whether China wants to give you a god forsaken (though the D word would fit much better) visa or not.

    If it gives you one fine. If it starts to get too hard just tell them where to get off and go somewhere else. It’s called the law of supply and demand and it’s what makes every single market known to man or woman work best. And it’s also called “market competition for critical skills human resources” ”


  2. justrecently said

    I agree with Neddy that China may be taking a closer look at what visa applicants have to offer. Besides, there are many ways into China. To some extent, the authorities will still tolerate “illegals”, I suppose, or foreigners with an unclear status. After all, this gives them more options to kick anyone out once they dislike their stay for some reasons. But every foreigner should be careful anyway. Once you are branded a “visa offender”, you may have trouble with travelling other Asian countries, too.

  3. Neddy said

    Well thank you, but it was not my wisdom, but of that commenter. And while you are right that supply and demand is a two-way street, my eye was on that commenter’s focus on the “seller’s” POV: If you have a valuable skill, and they give you a hard time, up and go elsewhere! There is a whole big world outside China He personally seems to take shine to Brazil:

    “And since Portuguese is a whole lot easier to learn than Chinese and the Brazilians are a heck of a lot more friendly and outgoing and genuine and fun …and since you also wouldn’t have to worry about all that democracy versus dictatorship stuff anymore since Lula is definitely democratic and the days of dictatorship are fully over…
    And the visas are also much easier to get and the immigration and customs people all smile more. So did you ever think about moving from Shanghai to Sao Paulo to start selling bio fuels to the U.S.?”

    Something I like about this guy’s half-joking.

  4. justrecently said

    The guy is definitely right in that you can’t build your income on just one country, let alone on China. It’s alright to learn Chinese, but I’m wondering how many people (both in business and research) consider that a life investment. A Hong Kong academic wrote an article for the Far Eastern Economic Review in April 2007 about how vulnerable sinologists are for implicit blackmail, as their research work depends on the benevolence of Chinese authorities (the article is no longer available online).
    Meantime, China isn’t only sending construction workers into the world, either. Here are my two cents in it: http://justrecently.wordpress.com/2008/05/18/branding-china-languages-of-a-multi-polar-world/
    Your comments or additional information would be most welcome.

  5. PPM said

    Just a thought: other countries could adjust their own visa regulation to match the Chinese attitude in this regard, although such “tit-for-tat” approach may not be the best way to make the world smaller…

  6. 尼克 said

    Well it ended up that people using their F visa as a Z visa ILLEGALLY are being made to apply for a Z Visa instead. Unfortunately that is very difficult, but people were breaking the law using a F visa like a Z visa, so we cannot blame the Chinese too much.

    BTW in reading your blog, you obviously hate both China and Chinese people, so why do you live in China still when you hate it so much? Seriously, I’m just wondering.

  7. 尼克 said

    Well it ended up that people using their F visa as a Z visa ILLEGALLY are being made to apply for a Z Visa instead. Unfortunately that is very difficult, but people were breaking the law using a F visa like a Z visa, so we cannot blame the Chinese too much.

    BTW in reading your blog, you obviously hate both China and Chinese people, so why do you live in China still when you hate it so much? Seriously, I’m just wondering.

  8. MyLaowai said

    Actually, a lot of people were using their F visa’s like F visa’s as well.

    Either way, visa violations had nothing to do with the Party’s decision to change the rules. As was explained in the post, it had more to do with not wanting foreigners here for the Olympics, and with them thinking (again!) that China doesn’t need foreigners any longer.

    Study your history, and see where that road traditionally leads…

  9. 尼克 said

    And your answer to my question “BTW in reading your blog, you obviously hate both China and Chinese people, so why do you live in China still when you hate it so much? Seriously, I’m just wondering.”?

    I know they wanted some people out, but there were a lot of violations going on, and now they are acting like Western countries when it comes to Visa, but still not as insanely strict as the USA for instance. It is so much easier for an American to get a tourist or work visa in China than it is for a Chinese person to get a tourist or work visa in America. America makes things much harder, so for all of China’s new restrictions, the USA is much worse at such things.

  10. 尼克 said

    Here is a good story of someone renewing their Z visa legally and stories of people working on L and F Visa illegally: http://wangbo.blogtown.co.nz/2008/06/20/legal/

  11. 尼克 said

    Here is another good laowei commentary on it all from an unabashed anti-communist no less: http://leeinchina.com/index.php/site/comments/visa_its_everywhere_you_want_to_be/

    Until recently visas were quite easy to obtain by greasing the right palms, but in the run-up to the Olympics the government has begun a crackdown. Actually, crackdown probably isn’t the right way to describe it. “Actually enforcing the existing laws” would be more accurate.

    There have been people living here on expired tourist visas for three years who suddenly find themselves deported. Students are being told they have to leave the country until September or later. Even my business, completely legitimate in every way, is finding it more difficult to get visas for foreign employees. Why? Because with the eyes of the world ready to descend on Beijing in less than two months, the government is terrified about unrest. They don’t want agitators ruining the image they are about to present to the world, so they need to know exactly who is and is not in the country.

    But fear not. The old corruption will return as soon as the games are over.

    This is why all the lao wei are dreading the Olympics. Our little bohemian wonderland is going all authoritarian.

    The government here is making the city look like Disneyland for the Olympics. As soon as everyone goes home it will turn back into the French Quarter.

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