"Walk on Eggshells, and Avoid Trouble Altogether": Two Deported Foreigners Share Their Story

Many foreigners were spooked by a spate of drug raids that hit several popular Beijing bars earlier this year, though even the most cautious among us chalked that up to heightened security surrounding the One Belt, One Road summit. However, even more extensive measures have been taken in the months following, according to a pair of recently deported foreigners who are left to warn their fellow expats to be extra cautious.

“People should know that they’re willing to go into your office, and it doesn’t matter how respectable your work is,” one of the deported expats, who hails from Canada and spoke on condition of anonymity, tells the Beijinger about how China’s anti-drug efforts extend far past random bar raids.

Officers arrived at the Canadian expat’s office, where he works in middle management, last month, telling him that they “knew” for certain that he “did drugs.” When he denied, the officers escorted him to the nearest bathroom, and he says they “Forced me to do a urine test. No other explanation.”

However, it didn’t take long for the Canadian to surmise why the authorities had tracked him down: The night before he had sent two text messages to a friend who is a suspected drug dealer.

After that, the officers promptly brought him to the Chaoyang District central police station, where they had him do another urine test for which he tested “weak positive” for marijuana.

“I had pleaded a lot up to that point, explained that I'm a positive contributing citizen with a good job and I don't do drugs,” he recalls, before adding that the officer wanted to go to his home to search for drug paraphernalia, and if none was found he’d be free to go. They found nothing, and “I was off the hook. I nearly peed myself, and was massively relieved.”

To his dismay, though, his troubles didn’t end there. That weekend he invited over a few friends, including an American expat, over to help another pal assemble a computer. They were expecting more company and weren’t surprised to hear a knock at the door, until they opened it to find 12 plainclothes officers, who quickly entered. Everyone inside, including the Canadian expat’s Chinese girlfriend, were ordered to take urine tests. The Canadian and his American friend both failed that drug test.

“The officers tried to make a deal with me: if I help them catch the dealer, I'd be off the hook,” the Canadian says, adding that he complied and “sold out my friend” whom he had received text messages from a few nights before. Of the suspected dealer who had texted him, the Canadian said: “He had not been caught, they knew his messages remotely without his knowledge. They knew I was in touch with him, but he didn’t know.”

Having failed the drug test, both the Canadian and the American were then taken from the apartment to the police station. The Canadian recalls being questioned by the officers, during which, “I admitted to being given some narcotics by him, but denied buying them, insisting it was in return for paying for drinks at a bar.” He then signed a written statement to that effect and underwent a full criminal record profile that took his finger prints, palm prints, weight, and height. After that, the authorities said they would give him five days of attention, with no mention of further punitive action.

A similar spiel was given to the American, who told TBJ (he also granted an interview on the condition of anonymity): “I was told I would serve five days and then be able to return to my apartment. But after three or four days, they told me I was deported and banned.”

The Canadian was surprised to be given the same grim news in that period, along with a formal notice from the Beijing Public Security Bureau (PSB; 北京市公安局 in Chinese) that said he was deported and banned from returning to the Mainland for five years. Here’s that document in full, in Chinese, with his private information blurred:

The tumultuous experience has prompted the deported American to warn other expats: “Really my advice would be to walk on eggshells. Avoid trouble altogether.”

The Canadian agrees, adding that he is having as much trouble contending with his future job prospects as having to leave to China, where he resided for a decade. He is now worried about finding other work and not being able to get references from his former employer because of his arrest and deportation. The ordeal also leads him to believe that detained expats can’t hide behind or rely on status or anything else to stave off such consequences. He says “I’m a mid-level manager at a big company, and that didn’t matter. I was also detained with a fellow Canadian that worked for a media agency, and he was cuffed and taken away.”

Bruce Fan, a lawyer at the Join-Win Shanghai law firm  which has numerous expat clients  says "the general rule is 'zero tolerance'" when it comes to drug crime on the Mainland. He goes on to describe the authorities here as being very restrictive and adds that both expats interviewed for this story may very well have enjoyed leniency, as difficult as that is for them to see, because "Violating laws or regulations by expats may face deportation and even worse, prison time."

What's more, Fan says: "The deportation decision is an administrative decision subject to no judicial review. Once it's made, you are gone."

Now that that sentiment has been lived out for both of the deported expats interviewed for this story, they hope that other foreigners keep it in mind, and remember that raids and busts don’t just happen rarely and randomly at bars. Or, as the American expat puts it: “I just hope this story helps someone.”

More stories by this author here.
Email: kylemullin@truerun.com
Twitter: @MulKyle
WeChat: 13263495040

Photos: everythingpr.com, Wikimedia Commons, courtesy of the interviewee, phys.org


Very sorry to know about the fate of Canadian and Aemrican expat fellows.. It's a learning event for us all. #SayNoToDrugs #AbideLaw #RemainSafe #LoveYourself

~~“Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” ~~.

Say no to drugs? Come on, are you really repeating this old failed BS Reagan slogan in this context?

Is anybody really shocked that the Chinese government has a zero tolerance policy toward the use of recreational drugs by foreigners? The tint of self-pity from the expats interviewed for this story is really too much. What the hell did they expect might happen? They'd be given a green card? No secret that recreational drugs flow freely in Beijing ... brace yourselves.

Expats in China also need to be keenly aware that they are targeted by the PSB every week with various sting operations using fake job ads. At the interview they are asked for their documents (resume, passport, and diploma) and then asked to give a urine test. They do not get back their papers until they comply. See the details here: http://opnlttr.com/letter/china-visa-police-using-clever-sting-fake-job-ads-arrest-hundreds-foreign-esl-tefl-teachers

maybe just don't do drugs?

If someone receives such a notice from the PSB, how much time does he/she have to leave the country? The notice shown above states that if you don't agree with the decision you may apply for "administrative reconsideration" within 60 days, does that mean you can still stay in the country during that time?

Commiserations, but thanks to the author for sharing their story.

It would be helpful if they could clarify whether they did actually smoke cannabis in China, and it wasn't some kind of mistake such as that of some athletes who have tested positive after merely being in a room where it was being done.

Stephen Hoare-Vance

This article is from a purely legal perspective. What you've got to understand is, regardless of the global "war on drugs" which we all know is phoney and bogus, and the fact that weed is either legal or pretty much defacto accepted in numerous countries, the story in China is different. It's completely illegal and the punishments are severe. There's no get out clause - testing positive equals posession in the government's eyes. Drug users are criminals. As a foreigner you're not safe from a random drug test which would, if positive, result in legal rammifications, deportation etc. If you don't want to face those, your safest option is to leave the drugs. Especially in a first tier city like Beijing where the law is actually enforced. So yes, "say no to drugs" is a perfectly reasonable piece of legal advice for an expat in China, regardless of the perceived harmfulness, or lack thereof, of drugs in your home country.

Huodiwen wrote:

It would be helpful if they could clarify whether they did actually smoke cannabis in China, and it wasn't some kind of mistake ...

I also would very much like to know this.

TBJ reporters, can you find out if they DID actually ingest anything? Or were the charges completely trumped up by police willing to do anything to carry out their sting operation?

Doubt wisely; in strange way / To stand inquiring right is not to stray; / To sleep, or run wrong, is. (Donne, Satire III)

Mao Zedong wrote:

If someone receives such a notice from the PSB, how much time does he/she have to leave the country? The notice shown above states that if you don't agree with the decision you may apply for "administrative reconsideration" within 60 days, does that mean you can still stay in the country during that time?

According to Baidu Baike百度百科, there are some lacks in the process of "reconsideration复议" for which you actually can apply for it only after your "administrative detention行政拘留" period is fullfilled. In case of a foreigner, if it's been decided he/she has to be deported, I think, she/he has actually no time to apply for reconsideration.

In the case mentioned above, the the offence is not a violation of the criminal code, but a violation of an administrative regulation for "public order management治安管理", as it's also reported in the document attached to this article. You actually don't get any crime record, but in case of a foreigner, there's deportation as an additional penalty, which is not applied necessarily, but its application is decided according to circumstances.



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