China to issue upgraded green cards for foreign residents

Updated 2017-05-31 09:01:27 Global Times

Foreigners say threshold for green card remains too high

China will upgrade identity cards for foreigners with permanent residency status to make them usable on a wider range of service platforms, a step welcomed by the expat community, who also urged the Chinese government to further loosen its regulations of issuing green cards and make them available to more people.

On Saturday, China's public security authorities announced that from June 16, it will launch new versions of machine-readable identity cards with greater usability for foreigners who have permanent residency status.

The new version of foreign permanent resident ID cards, based on the design of the second generation identity card for Chinese citizens, will contain chips embedded with foreigners' information, including their names, gender, date of birth, registration agencies and ID numbers, according to a notice released by the Ministry of Public Service (MPS).

The new ID cards will be machine-readable, allowing holders to get services from a range of agencies in sectors including finance, education, transportation, the courts and social insurance. Green cards currently cannot be recognized by many machines, giving foreigners problems in accessing these services.

'Mission impossible'

I think it [the ID card] would be much better than anything else, a Latvian anchor who has worked at broadcast companies in Beijing and Tianjin for years, told the Global Times on Tuesday, requesting anonymity. "If you have such an ID card, you don't have to carry your passportall the time. And passports are bigger, and I do not feel [it's] safe to carry it around," she said.

However, several foreigners living and working in Beijing revealed a lack of interest when approached by the Global Times on Tuesday, saying that the threshold to get permanent residency status is incredibly high, and many view it as a "mission impossible."

"Permanent residency does not really bring many benefits and to those who already have such status, the reform may bring about a little convenience, but it has little impact on those who don't have it," said one respondent from the US, who asked for anonymity.

In 2016, 1,576 foreigners became permanent residents in China, an increase of 163 percent over the previous year, according to the MPS. China began to allow permanent residency in 2004, but from 2008 to 2014, only 7,356 foreigners were granted permanent residence cards.

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