China's draft rules for permanent residence spark heated debate

March 05, 2020 14:18
Many netizens believe the new rules are making it too easy for foreigners to come and live in China. Photo: Reuters

China’s Ministry of Justice has published a draft of new requirements for foreigners to qualify for permanent residence in the country.

It published the proposed rules on its website on Feb. 27 seeking public comments.

Unlike similar documents, which are often ignored by the public, this one has had more than 3 billion views as of 9 p.m. on Tuesday. That means, on average, each mainland Chinese has clicked on the news twice.

The draft generated lots of discussions on social media platforms such as WeChat and Sina Weibo.

Many netizens believe the rules are making it too easy for foreigners to come and live in China.

Under the new rules, for example, a foreigner can obtain permanent residence if he or she is married to a Chinese citizen for five years.

Foreigners who have made special contributions to the Chinese economy, as well as graduates of prestigious overseas universities, would also qualify.

The document, however, has not specified which university is considered prestigious, or how special is special enough when it comes to contributions to the economy.

That said, in China, the devil is often in the implementation process. What may appear to be a loose rule can be very stringent if the authority chooses so.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 4

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist