Call­ing all de­scen­dants of the dragon

China of­fers five-year visas to at­tract for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent to re­turn to the Mid­dle King­dom

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - FRONT PAGE - By Liu Meng

Ash­ley, a 35-year-old Chi­nese-Filip­ina, could not have been more ex­cited when she saw an on­line news story an­nounc­ing a new visa pol­icy for for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent on Fe­bru­ary 2. Her first re­ac­tion was to send the news link to the hu­man

re­source depart­ment in her com­pany, a Bei­jing-based con­sult­ing firm where she works as a di­rec­tor.

“It would be very handy to have one. I am not sure what the im­pli­ca­tions are if I al­ready have a work visa ver­sus get­ting this visa for over­seas Chi­nese. I just think it will be great not to have to re­new my visa ev­ery year,” she told Metropoli­tan.

Start­ing from Fe­bru­ary 1, for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent are able to ap­ply for a visa that al­lows them to stay in China for up to five years or en­ter the coun­try mul­ti­ple times over the same pe­riod once they meet the pre­req­ui­sites, ac­cord­ing to a new visa pol­icy from the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity (MPS) on Jan­uary 22.

For­eign­ers of Chi­nese her­itage who want to come to China to visit their fam­ily and rel­a­tives, do busi­ness, have cul­tural ex­changes or run per­sonal er­rands can ap­ply for a five-year mul­ti­ple-en­try visa, and those who al­ready work, study, visit fam­i­lies and rel­a­tives or run per­sonal er­rands in China and need to stay longer, can ap­ply for a five-year res­i­dency per­mit, said the pol­icy.

Be­fore this pol­icy, for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent could only get a one-year mul­ti­ple-en­try visa, and a res­i­dency per­mit span­ning no more than three years in the coun­try.

Qu Yun­hai, the di­rec­tor of the Bureau of Exit and En­try Ad­min­is­tra­tion of the MPS, said in a Jan­uary 22 press re­lease that the pol­icy aims to en­cour­age and at­tract more for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent to par­tic­i­pate in China’s eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment.

“Over re­cent years, the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and other de­part­ments have pro­moted a se­ries of mea­sures to fa­cil­i­tate for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent to come to China. Th­ese poli­cies have played a pos­i­tive role in serv­ing China’s eco­nomic and so­cial de­vel­op­ment and at­tract­ing tal­ents with in­no­va­tive and en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit,” said Qu in the re­lease.

He added that the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new visa pol­icy will make it more con­ve­nient for them to “re­turn home.”

Visa headache

Ash­ley’s home­town in China is in Fu­jian Prov­ince. Decades ago, her grand­par­ents em­i­grated from Fu­jian to set­tle in Manila. She now holds a one-year mul­ti­ple-en­try work visa which takes around two to three weeks to process.

She em­braced the new visa pol­icy be­cause of the ease of get­ting in and out of China with­out hav­ing to re­new her visa ev­ery year.

“It puts con­straints on my per­sonal sched­ule and com­pany-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties,” she said.

Lu-Hai Liang, a 28-year-old Bri­tish na­tional, left Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion to join his par­ents in the UK when he was five. Since he still has fam­ily in Guilin, he ap­plied for a Q2 visa in Septem­ber last year. But he has to leave China ev­ery 120 days.

The se­cond visa type un­der the Q cat­e­gory, the Q2 visa is for for­eign­ers who come to China to visit Chi­nese cit­i­zens or for­eign­ers with per­ma­nent res­i­dency. It al­lows a short-term stay of up to 180 days.

Fan Li’na, an of­fi­cial at the En­try and Exit Ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Bei­jing Mu­nic­i­pal Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Bureau, told Metropoli­tan that the new pol­icy to­ward for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent en­sures them a longer res­i­dency in Bei­jing, re­duces their visa pro­cess­ing fre­quency and cuts the cost as­so­ci­ated with fre­quently en­ter­ing and ex­it­ing the coun­try. But they still have to make the cut to get ac­cess.

“The max­i­mum pe­riod of the visas is five years. But whether one can get the visas with the long­est pe­riod still de­pends on whether they meet set cri­te­ria,” she said.

Based on the doc­u­ments she gave to Metropoli­tan, an ap­pli­cant needs to pro­vide ma­te­ri­als in­clud­ing proof of his or her pre­vi­ous Chi­nese na­tion­al­ity, such as a Chi­nese pass­port he or she owned in the past, an ID card, a birth cer­tifi­cate or house­hold regis­tra­tion and so on to qual­ify.

Ac­cord­ing to a staffer sur­named Xiong who works in the Over­seas Chi­nese Af­fairs Of­fice of the Shang­hai Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment, doc­u­ments prov­ing Chi­nese des­cent in­clude copies of the ap­pli­cant’s, their par­ents’ or grand­par­ents’ Chi­nese pass­ports or ID cards.

Ma­rina Yang, a 24-year-old stu­dent in Syd­ney, usu­ally gets a stan­dard travel visa for 60 or 90 days to visit her home­town in Shang­hai.

As the first child in her fam­ily to be born out­side of China, she tries to visit her fam­ily in China ev­ery three to four years. She said the main dif­fi­culty is get­ting an in­vi­ta­tion let­ter from busy fam­ily mem­bers and mak­ing sure she has all the right de­tails for the trip.

“I usu­ally don’t need to go through the same process when I visit other coun­tries, but I un­der­stand why it is part of the Chi­nese visa ap­pli­ca­tion,” she said. “It’s just to in­form the Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties of your trav­el­ing in­ten­tions and the iden­tity of the lo­cals they can get in con­tact with if any is­sues arise.”

Yang said she ap­pre­ci­ates the added con­ve­nience of the new visa be­cause it gives peo­ple the op­por­tu­nity to make long-term plans for a ca­reer in China.

“It in­di­cates to peo­ple that their tal­ents and skills are wel­comed and that they can make a home in China,” she said.

Mary Peng, a Chi­nese-Amer­i­can in her 40s, told Metropoli­tan that the new pol­icy could be at­trac­tive to many haigui (Chi­nese who stud­ied abroad).

“A lot of haigui be­come cit­i­zens of their host coun­tries. Many of them want to come back (to China) to work but may have been dis­cour­aged by the fact that hav­ing be­come a for­eign cit­i­zen, they need to ap­ply for a one-year em­ploy­ment visa to re­turn to their home­land where they were born and raised,” said Peng, who is the CEO and founder of In­ter­na­tional Cen­ter for Ve­teri­nary Ser­vices in Bei­jing.

Peng, whose home­town is in He­nan Prov­ince, said if she had a 10-year tourist visa she would be able to visit her fam­ily in He­nan any time she wants, but she would have to leave the coun­try ev­ery 60 days.

Ac­cord­ing to Fan, Chi­nese-Amer­i­cans who meet the cri­te­ria for the five-year visa for home vis­its can stay in the coun­try for the en­tire five years, as they are not re­quired to leave the coun­try af­ter a cer­tain amount of days.

A huge tal­ent pool

Ac­cord­ing to Bei­jing-based think tank Cen­ter for China & Glob­al­iza­tion’s 2017 Re­port on China’s Re­gional In­ter­na­tional Tal­ents

Com­pet­i­tive­ness, al­most 4 mil­lion of the cur­rent 60 mil­lion over­seas Chi­nese in the world are pro­fes­sion­als, in­clud­ing those who are for­eign pass­ports hold­ers. They are also mainly em­ployed in the fields of ed­u­ca­tion, fi­nance and high-tech. The re­port con­cluded that the pro­fes­sional group is a large over­seas tal­ent pool and a rich source of the kinds of tal­ent that China hopes to at­tract.

It also noted that by the end of 2014, the per­cent­age of for­eign pro­fes­sion­als in the Zhong­guan­cun area had reached 0.56 per­cent, of which 74.86 per­cent were over­seas Chi­nese.

Ash­ley hailed the new pol­icy as a smart, de­ci­sive move by the gov­ern­ment to rec­og­nize the pres­ence and value of over­seas Chi­nese and their role in the coun­try’s de­vel­op­ment.

“It (the pol­icy) is also very im­por­tant in terms of mak­ing it eas­ier for over­seas Chi­nese to dis­cover or re­dis­cover their roots and visit fam­ily on the Chi­nese main­land,” she said.

“A cou­ple of key fac­tors that can con­trib­ute to its suc­cess would be if the process and re­quire­ments can be kept fairly sim­ple and straight­for­ward and if the cost is not un­rea­son­able,” she said.

In Peng’s opin­ion, the pol­icy will be more at­trac­tive to Chi­nese na­tion­als who went abroad to study and be­came over­seas cit­i­zens by mar­ry­ing a lo­cal or con­vert­ing their cit­i­zen­ship.

“How­ever, for those who have not lived in China for a long time, it might not be as at­trac­tive be­cause they don’t know China very well,” she said. “They have lots of other con­sid­er­a­tions and need a lot of time to re­ally un­der­stand the op­por­tu­ni­ties and see what they can do to take ad­van­tage of them.”

It is not the first time that the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment re­leased a pol­icy that fa­cil­i­tates over­seas Chi­nese.

In 2016, the MPS launched a pi­lot visa pro­gram to at­tract for­eign pro­fes­sion­als to de­velop Zhong­guan­cun as a na­tional cen­ter for sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion. Ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy, for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent who have a for­eign doc­toral de­gree and work in Zhong­guan­cun are el­i­gi­ble for per­ma­nent res­i­dency. Ad­di­tion­ally, those who have worked for com­pa­nies in Zhong­guan­cun for four years and spend at least six months a year in China are also el­i­gi­ble, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 Bei­jing Times re­port.

Al­ready a Q2 visa holder, Liang said he would not ap­ply for the new visa in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture.

“I am fine with the re­quire­ment of leav­ing the coun­try af­ter cer­tain days be­cause I travel of­ten any­way,” he said.

How­ever, he com­mended the move for ac­knowl­edg­ing the pi­o­neer­ing and bold spirit of the Chi­nese who went abroad and their de­scen­dants.

“We are of­ten en­tre­pre­neur­ial and re­silient, and I have seen and heard first­hand their re­mark­able sto­ries while trav­el­ing through Malaysia and Thai­land,” he said.

Liang said the gov­ern­ment should en­cour­age busi­nesses and com­pa­nies to em­ploy for­eign work­ers of Chi­nese des­cent.

“We are a bridge be­tween the East and the West, and his­tor­i­cally, over­seas Chi­nese have been in­stru­men­tal in forg­ing cul­tural and eco­nomic links through­out Western coun­tries, es­pe­cially across Asia,” he said.

Photo: VCG

The new visa pol­icy for for­eign­ers of Chi­nese des­cent makes it eas­ier for Chi­nese liv­ing over­seas to “re­turn home.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.