The Nanfang / Blog

Chinese Expats Lured Back to China with Preferential Policies

Posted: 01/27/2015 10:00 am

scientist lab chemicals

China is looking to lure Chinese expats back home. According to a joint report issued by the CPP’s Central Committee Organization Department, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, and the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the government plans to issue new incentives to encourage expats to return to their homeland.

Successful applicants will receive preferred treatment for visa applications, residency permits, and an easier time entering and exiting China.

The program is an extension of the “Thousand Talent” incentive. Introduced in 2008, the program was developed to encourage Chinese living overseas to return to China. Since its introduction seven years ago, local governments have attracted over 30,000 new workers. The program has been particularly successful at attracting students: 1.44 million Chinese students studying abroad returned to China in 2013, which was five times the amount in 2008.

The People’s Daily cited two prominent examples of overseas talent that were successfully lured back to China: biologist Shi Yigong of Tsinghua University and Physicist Pan Jianwei of the University of Science and Technology of China. As one might expect, high profile returns such as Shi and Pan are crucial to the long-term success of the program.

While China is going out of its way to attract Chinese expats, foreign nationals within China shouldn’t feel left out. New policies on permanent residence for foreigners living in the country are expected to be announced by year’s end.

Photo: taopic


Slowing Economy and Discrimination Puts Brakes on African Immigration to Guangzhou

Posted: 11/24/2014 4:18 pm

africans guangzhouGuangzhou, labelled by one local publication as China’s “Chocolate City” (pdf), appears to be much less attractive to African immigrants these days. The fewest number of Africans arrived in Guangzhou last year than at any time in the past 10 years, just as government policies make it harder for Africans to stay.

There’s been a 30 to 40 percent annual increase in the number of African immigrants to the city from 2003 to 2012 or so, a pattern that slowed drastically last year. While no official number was released, it is said to be a sizable difference from the peak between 2006 and 2010.

The drop is directly attributed to a cooling of the economic “gold rush” and a slowing economy. Between 2002 and 2007, trade between China and Africa expanded seven-fold, a time in which China became Africa’s second largest trading partner.

READ: African Expats Fight to Stay in Guangzhou as Policies Tighten

However, African migrants say discriminatory government policies and prejudicial attitudes from locals have made it difficult for Africans to stay and live in Guangzhou. Last year, the Chinese central government passed the Exit-Entry Administration Law that now requires expats to return to their home nations to renew their visas instead of doing so at intermediary destinations like Hong Kong. While US and Australian citizens may be enjoying a recent lifting of visa restrictions, citizens of African countries are stuck with an unsympathetic bureaucracy.

Kuala, a Congonese national that has lived in China for 15 years, explains his frustration:

In applying for the visa, I was told that because my wife is from Yunnan, we would need to go back to where her hukou is registered; in registering in Yunnan, I was told to go back to where my residence is located…

Ali (a pseudonym), a foreign exchange student from the Congo, describes the high cost of living in China:

I am a foreign exchange student, and each year it costs RMB 9,000 to get my visa, a total cost of RMB 36,000 over four years that I depend upon my parents to pay for. Foreigners in China are forbidden to work (without the proper accreditation). I can’t say that I’ve ever worked in China.

But even as the African community has built itself into a vibrant community in Guangzhou, trust and acceptance between Africans and locals has not kept pace.

READ: Guangzhou Home to Largest African Expat Population in Asia, Many Illegal

Li Zhigang, a professor at Zhongshan University, published a 2008 report saying 83 percent of local residents prefer not to live in the same neighborhood as “black people”. At the same time, 70 percent of Africans are not willing to live in the same neighborhoods as Chinese.

Members of the African community say they are discriminated against, noting many taxi drivers refuse to pick them up. Whatever the reason for falling immigration, it looks like fewer Africans and Chinese will have to live near each other in the future.


Photo: Yangcheng Evening Report


Guangzhou Has Deported 768 Foreigners So Far This Year

Posted: 09/8/2014 10:30 am

Life is getting tougher for foreigners in China, whether it’s something as simple as more restricted access to western TV shows online or tougher visa regulations.

We have been reporting for a while now that Guangzhou has been cracking down on foreigners in the city, specifically visitors from Africa. One report said half of the 200,000 African expats in Guangzhou are there illegally.

No matter where you’re from, make sure you have a valid visa and working permit, because Guangzhou isn’t messing around when it comes to deportations.

So far this year, the city announced it has either detained or deported 768 foreigners for things like expired passports, overstaying visas, illegal entry, and other criminal acts. The city remains one of the most popular destinations for visitors from other countries, with more than three million foreigners arriving or leaving the city this year.

The report says Guangzhou is currently home to 86,000 foreigners.


New visa policies for foreigners now in effect — what you need to know

Posted: 09/3/2013 3:43 pm

Some of the biggest changes to China’s visa policy since the 1980s came into effect on Sunday, September 1.  The idea behind the changes is apparently to provide more flexibility for foreigners, which is why the number of visa categories has increased from eight to 12.

Furthermore, Shenzhen Daily notes that when China last updated the immigration rules in 1986, there wasn’t much consideration that foreigners would move to China and stay forever, let alone bring family along with them.  But times have changed.

By the end of 2011, 4,752 foreigners were granted permanent residency in China. This is a minuscule number compared with other countries — and even Hong Kong — yet shows that some laowai really are staying for the longest of hauls.  Meanwhile, the number of foreigners entering or leaving China topped 54 million last year, the Shenzhen Daily said. With this kind of traffic, the old visa rules just weren’t cutting it.

China Briefing has a good outline of the changes.  Among them, three new types of visas are being introduced:

The R Visa — For highly-skilled and in-demand senior executives and high-level talents

The Q Visa — For overseas Chinese returning for family reunion purposes

The S Visa — For the families of foreigners who wish to come to China for family reunion purposes.

Below is a list of the other visa categories, from China Briefing:


C Visa

  • Applicable to train attendants, air crew members and seamen operating international services, and to their accompanying family members


D Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who are to reside permanently in China


F Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who come to China for exchanges, visits and inspections


G Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who transit through China


J Visa

  • J-1 Visa: Applicable to resident foreign journalists in China (long term stay – more than 180 days)
  • J-2 Visa: Applicable to foreign journalists who make short trips to China for reporting tasks (short term stay – less than or equal to 180 days)


L Visa

  • Applicable to overseas tourists (those traveling with tour groups can be issued a group L Visa)


M Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who come to China for business or commercial activities


Q Visa

  • Q-1 Visa: Applicable to foreigners who apply for entry into China for family reunification with Chinese relatives or foreigners with permanent residency in China, as well as to those who need to visit China for adoption issues (long term stay – more than 180 days)
  • Q-2 Visa: Applicable to foreigners who come to China for a temporary visit to Chinese citizens or foreigners with permanent residency in China (short term stay – less than or equal to 180 days)


R Visa

  • Applicable to senior-level foreign talents and foreign nationals whose special skills are urgently needed in China


S Visa

  • S-1 Visa: Applicable to spouses, parents, parents-in-law and children under 18 years old of foreigners who stay in China for study or working purposes, and to foreigners who need to reside in China for other personal reasons (long term stay – more than 180 days)
  • S-2 Visa: Applicable to family members of foreigners who stay in China for study or working purposes, and to foreigners who need to reside in China for other personal reasons (short term stay – less than or equal to 180 days)


X Visa

  • X-1 visa is applicable to foreigners who come to China for a long-term study period (more than 180 days)
  • X-2 visa is applicable to foreigners who come to China for a short-term study period (less than or equal to 180 days)


Z Visa

  • Applicable to foreigners who apply to work in China


As usual, we’re quite lucky in this part of the world. Many laowai stationed in more far-flung regions of the country must buy air tickets and fly to Korea, Russia, Japan, or Hong Kong on visa runs. We have the convenience of just popping across the border.

Whichever visa you qualify for, just make sure it’s updated and valid.



Cops arrest undocumented English teachers in Shenzhen

Posted: 08/13/2013 1:07 pm

It seems the Public Security Bureau isn’t playing around anymore when it comes to proper work permits.

One of the foreigners suspected of working illegally. (Shenzhen Daily)

The Shenzhen Daily is reporting today that “several” foreigners were arrested at English-training schools in Nanshan District, home of Shekou and a large population of foreign residents. The arrested teachers were apparently “taken away” by the PSB’s Nanshan District Sub-bureau for “illegal employment”:

The bureau did not reveal how many foreigners had been arrested or give further details as investigations into the cases are still continuing.

At present, there are about 13,000 foreign residents living in Nanshan District, accounting for 42 percent of the expatriate population in the city.

According to the Shenzhen Administration of Foreign Experts, about 11,000 foreigners with valid work permits were employed in Shenzhen last year, accounting for about 60 percent of the city’s foreign-worker population.

As always, the city is reminding foreigners they must hold valid teaching certificates and proper work visas to be employed in Shenzhen. No word on what kind of punishment these teachers may be in for.

China is starting to take the issue of visas and work permits a little more seriously after some convicted criminals from overseas have found their way into teaching positions at Chinese schools.


Guangzhou set to launch 72-hour visa-free stays this week

Posted: 07/29/2013 7:55 am

Earlier this year, we told you about Guangzhou’s plans to introduce 72-hour visa free stays at Baiyun Airport for inbound visitors. The plan however did not include a date… until now. According to the Global Times, the policy comes into effect as of August 1st, or this coming Thursday. That would make Guangzhou only the third city after Beijing and Shanghai to offer such an arrangement.

There are two main restrictions: first, the visas are only available to a select 45 nations (as is the case in Beijing and Shanghai): 31 from Europe, six from North and South America,six from Asia, and two Oceanic countries. One notable exception from the list is Norway, whose diplomatic relations with China have been somewhat frosty since the Country’s Nobel committee awarded Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize.

The second caveat is that, although visitors are free to go where they like over the 72-hours, at the end of their stay, they must exit from Baiyun Airport.

So, after Beijing and Shanghai, why was Guangzhou chosen? According to the deputy governor of Guangdong, Zhao Yufang, the answer is simple: development, and tourism.

The launch of this policy paves the way for transforming Guangzhou into an international aviation hub, promotes the inbound tourist industry and helps the city become a key metropolis in the country.

Let’s help Zhao Yufang get his wish. If you happen to know someone from the list of 45 countries, tell them to come on down… for 72 hours.


New visa laws to make life harder for illegal expats, easier for highly skilled ones

Posted: 07/3/2013 7:00 am

With its proximity to Hong Kong, Guangdong is a fairly easy place in which to work illegally. One can for example, hold a full-time job while on a business visa and do a visa turnaround at the border once a month. But under new exit and entry laws, foreigners caught working illegally are set to receive tougher punishments, Shenzhen Daily reports.

For the first time, foreigners can be detained for five to 15 days if they’re caught illegally living or working in China.

Illegal migrants can now be fined 5,000 yuan (US$794) to 20,000 yuan and face deportation under the new law. Their employers could be fined up to 100,000 yuan per individual illegal employee.

The new laws also include the creation of a “talent visa.” Overseas candidates with management experience at leading multinationals and top specialists in education and science are eligible to apply.

“Urgently needed” professionals, as stated in the law, will be able to apply for the new talent visa, which grants residency for up to five years, or multiple entries and stays of up to 180 days at a time.

Some 47,100 foreigners were caught violating the immigration law last year. You can increase your chances of avoiding this fate by following the advice in this extremely helpful article.


No work permit, no protection: proposed law could mean tough times for laowai

Posted: 08/13/2012 4:06 pm

It’s no secret that many foreigners working in China are doing so illegally.  It’s even easier for those in the PRD to work on a tourist visa because renewing that visa requires only a quick afternoon journey to Hong Kong and back.

But if being an undocumented worker was living on the edge before, it could get even worse. The Supreme People’s Court has drafted a law which would remove any labour protection given to foreign workers — even if they have a contract.  The draft is now being considered by a group of judges and other professionals for their feedback.

It could be argued that many foreign workers don’t have much protection as it is, considering the difficulty of navigating the labyrinth of China’s legal system.  But if this law passes, foreigners would have zero recourse if something were to go wrong in the workplace. That has some lawyers concerned, according to the China Daily:

He Li, a labor lawyer, said he was concerned by the proposal since some foreigners do not have work permits because companies are reluctant to go to the trouble of doing the necessary paperwork.

Liu said there are administrative regulations for these employers, although the draft law itself does not deal with companies failing to apply for permits.

Wang Wenjie, who works in the human resources department at a Shanghai company, said the policy will probably affect foreigners working in small-scale companies as larger companies will have the resources to do the paperwork.

An English teacher from Russia working in Beijing admits she does not have a work permit because of the bureaucracy.

The 33-year-old said procedures to obtain a work permit are complicated and the permit is tied to one particular employer. This makes it a drawn-out affair if she changes employer.

The Russian, who requested anonymity, has been teaching English at the school for four years.

“I took the risk of changing my life path to come to China, I have paid taxes, why are my rights not protected by laws?” she asked.

In any country, it’s always wise to do things above board — perhaps even more so in China, where there is little legal recourse for anybody who finds themselves on the wrong side of the law.


Crackdown on visas for locals could make crossing into Macau easier for laowai

Posted: 06/27/2012 2:51 pm

Gongbei Border Control

You might be able to speed through Gongbei Port and into Macau soon, as Guangdong appears to be tightening visa requirements for Chinese tourists.

A report from the Chinese-language Macau Daily News cited unnamed sources saying local officials in neighbouring Guangdong could limit the number of Macau visas issued for locals, coupled with a limit on overseas spending on credit cards. Despite its reunification with China in 1999, Macau is still considered “overseas”.

Major Hong Kong-listed Casino operators Sands China, Galaxy, MGM China and Wynn Macau saw shares tank on the news on Tuesday, but analysts are split on the speculation.

From Bloomberg:

“Recent weakness in Macau gaming revenue and visitation growth could be partially explained by the visa restrictions and reduction in China UnionPay limits highlighted by the Macau Daily,” Cameron McKnight, an analyst at Wells Fargo & Co., said in a June 25 research note.

“The report on visa tightening is a bit speculative,” said Grant Govertsen, a Macau-based analyst at Union Gaming Group. “We haven’t seen anything so far to convince us this is happening.”

While Reuters reports:

“There has been no restriction of visas,” said Gabriel Chan, analyst at Credit Suisse in Hong Kong

Chan said new measures recently put in place should actually should encourage the flow of visitors by making it easier for residents to apply for a visa and lengthening the opening hours of the border gate that connects Macau to the mainland.

The numbers Macau are dealing with are huge, and could affect the gambling-heavy SAR.
From Bloomberg:

Macau casino gambling revenue rose 7.3 percent in May, the slowest pace since July 2009.

Reuters said:

About 25 million visitors from Greater China flocked to the specially administered region in 2011 – the only place in China where nationals can legally gamble at casinos – making up about 90 percent of total visitors.

Long queues at the Gongbei border between Zhuhai and Macau are an all too often occurrence as foreigners bemoan the sheer volume of people crowding into the border facility.  Unlike at Lo Wu/Luohu Port connecting Shenzhen with Hong Kong, Gongbei Port often doesn’t differentiate between foreigners and locals, resulting in long queues all around.

The last time local entry into Macau was tightened was back in 2008.


Keep in Touch

What's happening this week in Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou? Sign up to be notified when we launch the This Week @ Nanfang newsletter.

sign up for our newsletter

Nanfang TV