At times the law in China seems as if things are pretty free and easy, but at others it’s like the sword of Damocles hanging over your head. Many people have heard stories about arrests and deportations in the laowai community, so we figured it might be useful to know what can get you arrested and deported, and how to avoid it – especially as there are a lot of half-true stories and urban myths floating around. It’s really not hard to stay on the right side of the law in China; most of the things that can get you in trouble in China are things that would be illegal anywhere in the world. A little bit of common sense goes a long way when it comes to steering clear of the slammer. If it’s illegal at home, there’s a pretty good chance its illegal here too. Here are some tips on how to steer clear of detention and deportation in China and what to do if it happens:
1) Out-stay your visa
This one is obvious. If you’re staying here without the correct papers, the chances are that they’ll sling you out if you get caught. Especially during big events like the 2008 Olympics, and the current Shanghai Expo, municipal governments tend to keep a sharper eye on laowai, so make sure your visa and residency permit are up to date. There’s no excuse for overstaying, but make sure you work to remedy it immediately if you do. In many instances the local officials can be nicer than they really have to be.
2) Work illegally
Working under contract on anything except a Z visa can earn you a red “DEPORTED” stamp in your passport, so don’t work unless you get your zed. If you have a student visa and don’t turn up to a certain number of classes, you could also be arrested and deported. Lesson: don’t skip school. A lot of people underestimate the implications of working on a tourist visa, and can’t be bothered to go through the hassle and cost of sorting out a Z; if you’re caught, you really will be punished. Again, this rule is crystal clear and you really have no one but yourself to blame if you violate it and get caught.
3) Dabble in sensitive politics
Stories abound about foreigners who have got themselves arrested or deported, like Brits Iain Thom and Lucy Fairbrother who were unceremoniously ejected from China for unfurling a pro-Tibet banner on the Beijing Olympic site in 2008. A blogger named Noel “No-Neck” Hidalgo was deported for blogging and posting videos on YouTube of the above-mentioned protesters. The government has blocked many foreign video sharing and social networking sites now, but you should still be careful what you write and upload when it comes to political issues. That said, there are only a few subjects which are third-rail issues. As long as you steer clear of a handful of particularly sensitive matters, especially during times when China feels the world’s focus is on them – like during the Expo or Olympics – you’re not going to have any problems.
Something else which could get you deported (or much, much worse) is the possession and dealing of drugs. While sentences and convictions are comparatively lenient back home, getting caught with drugs in China just isn’t worth the risk. In December 2009, a British man named Akmal Shaikh was put to death by lethal injection in Urumqi for smuggling over 4,000 grams of heroin from Tajikistan. His lawyers pled mental illness on his part, but the authorities were having none of it. Chinese law states that anyone caught with over 50 grams of heroin will be executed, so Shaikh had no chance of reprieve. The lesson here is an important one (and we don’t mean to hector): drugs are bad, mkay?
5) Blackmail your students
In 2009, a 22-year-old American was sentenced to three years in prison in Guangdong Province followed by deportation. His crime? Blackmail, extortion and an affair with a student. Sleeping with your pupils is never a good idea, but this guy took things to a whole new level of wrong. When the girl in question dumped him, he decided to get even by threatening to post naked photos of her on the internet. He demanded 100,000 RMB to delete the photos. Unwilling to pay up (what student has that kind of money anyway?), the girl reported him to the police, and he was thrown into the slammer. Moral of the story here isn’t just don’t blackmail your students, it’s don’t be a moron. That kind of behaviour isn’t allowed in any country.
But what happens if you do get deported? Basically, you’ll get a stamp in your passport which requires you to leave the country within 10 days. Whether or not you are slung into jail during these 10 days depends on your crime. Things like drugs or blackmail are likely going to earn you sentences in China. Once you’re out of China, it will be difficult for you to get another Chinese visa in that passport, and your details will remain on deportation databases pretty much forever.
If you don’t do anything outrageous/controversial/stupid, you’ll be safe from deportation. Just keep your wits about you, and you’ll be fine.
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Hi, as i can see i don′t see anyone here giving solution about the matter of deportion in china. Well I would like to know who can give a good advise about the issue.Somebody that didn′t make any human crime in china,only the visa expired,not got in trouble with drugs, or fake passport,what is the solution for those people who didn′t get in time to extend the visa,went to the immigration on his own and say the the police ok i don′t have any more visa for quite long time, let him arrest you,putting you in jail and pay the penalty of 8000rmb and pay his own ticket and go back home.Now this person want to get in again after 4yrs ,trying to find out if he can get in or not. Anybody have an answer about it? Help to solve the problem plz.
Apr 22, 2012 08:34 Report Abuse