Editor's Note: Have you ever met a foreigner who has a permanent residence card in China? These expats are few and far between, but the Chinese government hopes to change this in order to attract “top foreign talent.” This article from the Chinese media discusses the current green card system in place and talks about how the government is working to take steps to relax it.
China has become one of the most attractive countries for foreign expats. The nation was ranked third overall in a HSBC 2014 survey on expat living. Switzerland and Singapore were ranked first and second. In the survey, China beat out the United States, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, and other developed countries. Many Chinese wonder, why is China such a good place to be an expat?
China does have a certain appeal for many foreigners. We can see this from the popularity of English training institutions. The most popular childrens English institutes all recruit foreign teachers. These English teachers often stay in China for many years.
However, compared to other countries, it is not easy for foreigners to get a green card or a permanent residence permit in China. Many Chinese are upset because it is difficult to get a green card in the United States, but it is actually more difficult to get one in China. It is almost the hardest place to get a green card in the world. Until 2013, only 4,900 expats in China and their families received green cards.
Green Cards, Hard to Get
It is difficult to get a green card in China because there is no widely established green card system, like there is in other countries. China introduced a green card system in 2004 which applies to four categories of people: top talent, foreign investors, those who have made outstanding contributions, and those who have families in China.
The threshold for green cards is set high in China because of three different factors. First, China has a huge population. It's own job force is huge and giving jobs to Chinese citizens must be a priority. Second, it is often difficult for China to attract top talent from overseas because of its lower level of economic and social development. Third, China's political system hinders bringing in foreign talent. Therefore, China has focused on bringing in foreign capital, rather than foreign talent.
The importance of attracting top talent goes without saying, especially in our current globalized era. Nations have various ways to attract foreign talent, especially senior personnel. China's limited green card system focuses on recruiting high-end talent as well, but the situation in China is changing.
Attracting Foreign Talent
China is starting to experience a lack of talent and human resources. However, it has become the world's second largest economy and material living conditions have improved significantly. Therefore, it is becoming easier for China to attract foreign talent.
China has had an easier time attracting foreign talent in recent years, especially after the financial crisis. However, China has become more economically competitive internationally, therefore there is a higher demand for top foreign talent.
It is important to bring in foreign talent to improve domestic talent. Economically successful Western countries, especially the United States, have established immigration and green card systems. The gap between the green card system in these nations and in China is extremely large.
Only 0.06% of the Chinese population are foreigners. This is the lowest ratio in the world. Developed countries and regions have an average of 10.8%, and the world average is 3.2%. Even LDCs (least development countries) have a higher ratio of foreigners than China, at 1.2%.
China's large population may be a factor in this, but the number of expats living in China is not increasing quickly. The United Nations reported that in 2013, the growth rate for foreigners in China was 3.9% in the past ten years. From 1990 to 2000, the growth rate was 3%, barely any different.
The issue is that China losses most of its own top-talent. China has an 87% retention rate in the fields of science and engineering. Many of China's most talented citizens leave for developed countries like the United States.
Getting a Green Card
Foreigners who hold green cards in China have most of the same rights as Chinese citizens. They cannot participate in politics, but hold the same rights when it comes to education, housing, social insurance, welfare, and a number of other things
The Chinese government has begun to build and launch its own more extensive green card system. The government hopes to implement a better system to attract foreign talent, and plans to relax the residence permit system.
The Ministry of Public Security has recently decided to open applications for permanent residence in China (green cards) to foreigners working in a number of institutes including the State Enterprise Technology Center, the National Engineering Research Center, foreign-invested R&D centers, those working as high level researchers and professors, and foreign investors in various categories. If these expats have lived four years continuously in China under a residence permit, and have a good tax record, they will be able to apply for permanent residence in China.
With the relaxation of the green card system, China must establish an immigration system and work to attract top foreign talent.
Source: Wenxue City
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Keywords: China green card foreigners in China
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I'm going to throw up. Foreigners like living in China because it's F****D UP, it's the wild east. There are essentially no rules here (that people follow) and foreigners make comparatively absurd wages for dancing like baboons in front of a group of little emperors. There's also a reason "Top talent" didn't include english teachers, most likely because 95% of those teachers in China are outcast weirdos, mormons (weirdos), or drunks.
Jun 13, 2015 09:41 Report Abuse
You will cry hard when they start delivering green cards to those many English teachers married with Chinese nationals. And then the same ESL teachers can ask for (even more) sky-high wages or make a hundred USD per hour giving private tuition to groups of students. They will be able to change job anytime they want to if an employer treat them badly, pushing all the crappy pretend schools out of business, since their green card will not be tied to an employer unlike their current working visa. You will see that I am right when time comes.
Jun 17, 2015 07:24 Report Abuse
Why the hate towards the English teachers? It's all economics after all. When people is willing to pay top dollar for foreigners to dance like baboons, There will be foreigners willing to dance like baboons for the money... I myself did my fare share of dancing when I first moved here, but hey, it opened the door for me to get a foot in the country. I don't like it here because it's the wild east. I didn't fly 9000 miles to become a criminal. I like china because It's cheap enough that I can have a lot of disposable income, and enough time off to enjoy it.
Jun 21, 2015 12:46 Report Abuse
Typical fake window dressing....as usual! "China loves & values laowai"...utter codswallop! The reason I left was that I just couldn't see any fair way to stay and build a future in good old zhongguo. Even the sacred Da Shan doesn't live in China! He pockets the dosh and hightails it to hoosier-ville. How many expats actually qualify through marriage? Quite a few! How many have a green card? Very few!! As always in China, reality and the propaganda very rarely meet.
Jun 13, 2015 03:58 Report Abuse
"First, China has a huge population. It's own job force is huge and giving jobs to Chinese citizens must be a priority." Sounds reasonable? As reasonable as "we're against protectionism, keep your door open to us" trade campaign to developed countries, buyers of their export products? Tsk, tsk, tsk. Hypocrites. * " political system hinders bringing in foreign talent. Therefore, China has focused on bringing in foreign capital, rather than foreign talent." And what political system is that? The kind of political system that jails its Nobel Peace prize laureate. It has ALWAYS been about money. * "However, it has become the world's second largest economy and material living conditions have improved significantly. Therefore, it is becoming easier for China to attract foreign talent." Wow, sudden partial amnesia!!! Forgot 1. air, water, and soil pollution. Never heard of AQI! 2. Hostile attitudes of mainlanders to visitors.
Jun 12, 2015 12:33 Report Abuse
It doesn't seem too farfetched if you consider that one of the categories of people mentioned eligible for new green cards is that of university professors. I've come across quite a few older individuals in their late 50's and early 60's who appear to have chosen to be a university professor here for one reason or another. Teaching is still somewhat a profession that people do because of the calling it makes toward them.
Jun 13, 2015 17:14 Report Abuse
'those working as high level researchers and professors' I read that on the application for green card 4 or 5 years ago when I was in Tianjin, and my FAO said that didn't mean me, even though I have been teaching at university for 7+ years~ yep, recycled nonsense
Jun 14, 2015 15:10 Report Abuse
What a ridiculously airbrushed article. They even sacrificed logic and causality to keep appearances high: "China does have a certain appeal for many foreigners. We can see this from the popularity of English training institutions." So, English training institutions are popular to foreigners? you mean it's the only non-specialist job we're allowed to take (FEC system requires you to be an expert), and we get hounded by desperate recruiters anxious to shove us in front of a class of tuhao kids as badly planned entertainment.
Jun 12, 2015 08:32 Report Abuse
The kind of people that they want to attract as a 'special talent' would probably be those least likely to want to be a green card holder in China in the first place. A professional reputation could be lost so easily being associated with some of the more questionable practices that take place only in China. As it is the pollution and all the issues (internet) are motivating people to leave.
Jun 11, 2015 23:00 Report Abuse