Foreigners working in China’s Yangtze River Delta may get an easier ride when it comes to visa bureaucracy, according to a new policy document. In a government blueprint released on Sunday, vague plans were unveiled to reduce red tape and streamline the visa and work permit application and renewal process in a bid to attract more foreign workers to the region.
The news comes as part of overall plans to boost productivity in the Yangtze River Delta, an area on China’s east coat that includes major commercial hubs such as Nanjing, Hangzhou and Shanghai. The region covers the self-governing province of Shanghai as well as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, which together are home to 220 million people, amounting to one-sixth of the country’s total population.
The plans, which would also include more foreigner-friendly schools and hospitals in the region, are no doubt an attempt by Beijing to soften the effects of a slowing economy and the trade war with the US by attracting foreign talent and innovation. Hanzhou is already leading the way, with substantial subsidies and incentives for foreign tech entrepreneurs.
Foreigners working in China currently need to go through a long, complicated and regularly changing visa process that requires the notarization and translation of degree certificates and police reports as well as proof of at least two years’ relevant work experience. Most visas and work permits expire after one year, with the renewal process also proving time-consuming and costly for both businesses and their employees.
The European Union Chamber of Commerce welcomed the news, but cautioned that the blueprint’s release must be followed up by solid action. “[The plan] mentions [the need] to realise freedom in investment, trade, international transport and make better and more open policies to facilitate entry and exit for foreign talent,” Carlo D’Andrea, the chamber’s Shanghai chairman, told the SCMP. “All of these policies already existed in various Shanghai government documents but none of them have made much progress.”
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Keywords: Foreigners working in China’s Yangtze River Delta
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