China green card changes to help for­eign­ers

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Front Page - By CHENG YINGQI in Bei­jing chengy­ingqi@chi­

Per­ma­nent res­i­dents’ per­mits, or green cards, have been no­to­ri­ously dif­fi­cult to ob­tain in China, and many peo­ple be­lieve they are of lit­tle use.

They claim that apart from be­ing long-term visas, green cards are only use­ful for open­ing bank ac­counts or buy­ing train tick­ets.

But now the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties are in­tro­duc­ing new poli­cies to in­crease the prac­ti­cal use of green cards, with the goal of at­tract­ing top tal­ent to the coun­try.

On Thurs­day, the cen­tral govern­ment is­sued a doc­u­ment on man­ag­ing for­eign­ers’ per­ma­nent res­i­dency.

Gao Xiang, a spokesman for the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of For­eign Ex­perts Aff airs, said, “The doc­u­ment aims to pro­vide in­dis­crim­i­na­tory treat­ment for green card hold­ers. It is in­ter­na­tional prac­tice to give per­ma­nent res­i­dents the same en­ti­tle­ments as lo­cal cit­i­zens.

“We al­ready had reg­u­la­tions cov­er­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dency, but the terms re­lat­ing to treat­ment of for­eign­ers were not car­ried out thor­oughly.

“With an in­creas­ing level of open­ness and higher fre­quency of per­son­nel ex­changes, we had to in­tro­duce a more prac­ti­cal sys­tem to cover for­eign­ers’ rights and obli­ga­tions,” he said.

China be­gan to grant per­ma­nent res­i­dency to for­eign­ers in 2004. In 2012, 25 min­istries and cen­tral gov-

ern­ment de­part­ments jointly in­tro­duced a pro­vi­sion on the treat­ment of green card hold­ers, but the terms were not fully im­ple­mented.

Gao said: “In the United States, the founders of many great in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies are not US na­tives — the govern­ment cre­ated a tal­ent sys­tem to bring them in. What we should do now is also build a well-es­tab­lished sys­tem to at­tract top tal­ent from across the globe.”

The newly pub­lished doc­u­ment in­cludes a guide­line for for­eign­ers hold­ing per­ma­nent res­i­dents’ per­mits to be given equal treat­ment as Chi­nese cit­i­zens, such as on buy­ing homes, school en­roll­ment and in so­cial se­cu­rity cov­er­age.

Eu­gene Gre­go­ryanz, a physi­cist from the Univer­sity of Ed­in­burgh who now works at the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences’ Heifei In­sti­tutes of Phys­i­cal Sci­ence un­der the 1,000 Tal­ent Plan, said, “I think that if for­eign­ers are al­lowed to buy prop­erty or ex­change ren­minbi at banks like Chi­nese cit­i­zens, this would be very at­trac­tive and rather use­ful.”

The 1,000 Tal­ent Plan, also known as the Re­cruit­ment Pro­gram for Global Ex­perts, is a global tal­ent pro­gram ini­ti­ated by the Chi­nese govern­ment to at­tract for­eign sci­en­tists or in­no­va­tors.

The pro­gram has re­cruited 313 for­eign ex­perts since it was launched in 2011.

It of­fers a sub­sidy of 1 mil­lion yuan ($153,400) for each re­cruit along with re­search funds, a salary and other ben­e­fits.

Re­cruits must work in China for at least three years and re­main in the coun­try for at least nine months a year.

Gre­go­ryanz said, “For many peo­ple I know, ex­chang­ing money is a big prob­lem. We are paid ex­tremely well but can­not ex­change (large amounts of ) ren­minbi to dol­lars or ster­ling at banks. We have to make do with the air­port, where the ex­change rates are not so good, or ask Chi­nese friends to do it for us.”

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