Are You Legal? 100 Days of Checks on Foreigners Begins Today
Xinhua last night announced that the Beijing PSB will today (May 15) embark upon a 100-day crackdown on foreigners who do not have a legitimate visa, are working illegally or are living with no registered residence.
China Daily's report (which comes with the pretty obnoxious headline "Beijing to Clamp Down on Illegal Aliens") paraphrases a PSB spokesperson as explaining that
"Police will comb communities believed to have large numbers of such aliens and mobilize the public to report them, as well as tighten reviews of visa applications."
Sounds to me like we can expect the full range of checkups, from knocks on the door, to police hanging around outside apartment buildings asking if you've got your passport, to those same police sending you back home to get it if you haven't brought it out with you. Anyone out there remember the summer of 2007 (or pretty much the entire year preceding the Olympics)? I think we're in for another of those golden periods.
Of course, if you've got a visa, are working legally and have got your housing registration form from the local PSB, you should really have nothing to worry about. However, there's every chance you could be stopped randomly in the street and asked to produce your documents, so be prepared. Check the date on your visa, make sure you've got your housing registration form (and if you haven't, get down to the PSB now and sort it out), and we'd also recommend carrying photocopies of the photo and visa pages from your passport, as well as a copy of your housing registration form. It's not cool, but it will save you trouble.
If you're working without a proper Z visa, ask your employer what they know (and more importantly, what they plan to do) about the situation. We've already heard from one English teacher whose school has told staff to submit copies of their passport and visa pages, along with their housing registration forms, because they are expecting a visit from police to check foreign teachers' documents.
Now what about that phrase, "mobilizing the public"? Seems that this means the PSB encouraging citizens to alert authorities to anyone they feel is breaking the law via a hotline. So for any of you keeping records of who in the neighborhood has no visa, no job, is working illegally or hasn't registered, do somebody else's job for them by calling 6403 8685.
This 100-day campaign is perhaps the inevitable response to the outrage, debate and confusion that followed the appearance of a Youku video last week which purported to show a British man in the process of sexually assaulting a Chinese woman, before being beaten by the witnesses to the alleged attack. According to the Global Times, "police have charged [the British man] with molesting instead of the more serious crime of rape," meaning he will be detained and most likely subsequently deported. If you missed that story, you can read a range of perspectives here, here, here and here. The video of the incident is embedded below. Needless to say, some viewers may find it distressing.
PHOTO: China Radio International