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Stricter laws proposed against foreigners illegally in country

By Liu Linlin (Global Times)

08:22, June 21, 2012

Chinese lawmakers are proposing to strengthen the management of expatriates by further tightening laws regarding their illegally entering, living and working in the country, or "three illegals," encountering diverse opinions toward the possible impact of such laws.

A draft law on exit and entry administration is being discussed by China's top legislators at the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the final version is expected to be released in late June.

Expats who work in China without working permits or work-related documents and international students working in violation of related work-study program regulations will be listed as illegally working, according to the draft.

It also said that those who have illegally provided documents or letters of invitation to foreigners will be fined between 2,000 yuan ($314.70) and 10,000 yuan with their illegal incomes confiscated, and will also be required to cover the expenses to send the foreigners back.

Liu Guofu, an expert on immigration law from the Beijing Institute of Technology, told the Global Times yesterday that the draft is a timely amendment to the current laws that took effect in 1986.

"The punishment of 'three illegals' that seemed proper in the past has become outdated, considering the increase in international exchanges," Liu said, adding that the new draft will help to construct a more systematic and serious regulation on the crackdown of such illegal acts.

Legislators all agreed on the need to toughen punishments against the 'three illegals' while expressing varying opinions on different aspects stipulated in the draft.

Member Jin Shuoren pointed out during the 26th meeting of the standing committee that the punishment for guardians of foreign minors caught staying illegally is too lenient, suggesting the fine be increased to a maximum of 5,000 yuan from the current 1,000 yuan, reported the Legal Daily.

"I think it is fair that China introduces stricter regulations for expats, which will help clear prejudices against foreigners by trimming crimes," said Tarandip Kardashian, a 38-year-old Indian software engineer in Shanghai.

"Stricter rules mean a better environment, not only for local residents but also foreigners in the country," he told the Global Times.

Legislators are also focusing on repatriating foreigners who break the law. Some suggested the country establish more detention and repatriation facilities in areas populated by foreigners with expenses guaranteed.

Vice Minister of Public Security Yang Huanning said in April that the lack of needed facilities and foreign language-speaking police staff has obstructed the management of illegal aliens.

Josephine Maple, a teacher from Canada, told the Global Times that the new laws could result in further hostility toward foreigners.

"China has not been the most expat-friendly country in Asia and I may consider moving to Hong Kong or Japan if applying for a Z-visa is attached with more troublesome paperwork in the future."

Liu said Chinese regulations are not tough or biased compared with other countries, but they are becoming stricter so that they can cope with the need to become more open to foreigners.

Police last year investigated more than 20,000 incidents in which foreigners illegally entered, lived or worked in China, double the number of 1995, according to Yang.

Miranda Shek contributed to this story

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