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Foreigners to be faced with a question of identity (3)

By Cui Jia, He Na and Peng Yining (China Daily)

08:15, May 29, 2012

Culture barriers

Language difficulties and culture barriers have resulted in law enforcement agents showing a greater degree of tolerance when dealing with cases related to foreigners, said Liu Qinglong, professor of Sociology of Tsinghua University.

"Law enforcement staff need to improve their work practices, such as learning some basic English and becoming familiar with the regulations and laws on the management of foreigners," he said.

Jones believes that foreigners and Chinese should be treated on an equal footing. "I've found that Chinese authorities are afraid of handling cases involving foreigners," he said. "One of my friends was stopped for speeding on his motorcycle, but as soon as he removed his helmet and the police found out he was a foreigner, they just let him go."

He also said that employers are key to tackling the issue of foreigners working illegally. "When I worked part time as an English teacher on a tourist visa, the school simply wasn't bothered about getting me a work visa. They told me that most teachers don't have work visas and it wouldn't be a problem."

"It is an open secret that many foreign teachers in China's English institutes are holding tourist visas while working. The institutes like to employ them, because they only need to pay wages and don't have to worry about paying for insurance or providing other benefits." Liu said. "They need to be blamed."

Jones said one of his friends was fined 1,000 yuan ($160) a couple of days ago, because he was working as an English teacher without a work visa. "He told me he was pretty relieved because the penalty was really not much."

"Foreigners enjoy many privileges in China and they are treated much better. They have been spoiled," said Qiu Lin. "Apart from the ability to speak English, most of these people lack other skills. They hold tourist visas when teaching in private institutes."

Qiu lives close to the Sanlitun area and said she is afraid to walk home at night after being harassed by drunken foreigners several times. "China's management of foreigners is too loose. That gives many of them the feeling that they’re free to do anything. The government needs to tighten the supervision and controls."

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