Usually, a country’s green card holders are granted the same rights and benefits of its citizens. Not in China. Lotus Qi, an intern at this very publication –The World of Chinese, holds the Chinese green card, yet whenever she has to present her passport and green card it has caused confusion rather than anything remotely resembling convenience.
Officers are puzzled as to why she doesn’t have a visa, many never having heard of a Chinese green card at all. Instead of simply letting her in the country as is her right, a series phone calls are made to various departments, each a level higher than the one before, until someone senior enough, and for all I know it could be Xi Jinping himself, is aware of the existence of the green card and gives poor Lotus whatever it was she needed in the first place. If your own customs officials are not aware your own country does in issue a green card, then it is pretty clear something is going drastically wrong.
Green cards were made available to foreigners in China in 2004. Last year, the government issued regulations that designated the benefits granted to permanent residents in China. Want China Times reports:
“The green card is a foreigners’ identification and allows card holders to depart from and enter China by just showing their passport and green card. Once they receive the green card, foreigners no longer need a visa to enter China…
China’s green card holders are granted several benefits while living in the country. They can work legally simply on the basis of their permanent resident status, make investments with renminbi and be treated as a Chinese national when they purchase tickets for entering places such as, parks, museums and arenas, as well as buy their own train tickets.”
However, many of these benefits aren’t being applied simply due to lack of awareness. Noyan Rona from Turkey successfully obtained his Chinese green card earlier this year, only to find that the rights granted to him in the regulations were not granted to him at all. A reporter from Oriental Morning Post went with him to a Citibank branch, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, and the Standard Chartered Bank to open up bank accounts.
All three banks refused to let when him open an account despite him showing his green card. After presenting them with the printed-out regulations issued by the government, the Citibank employee refused him again saying, “We have to run things according to company regulations,” ranking internal procedures above the law. One wonders what exactly the Chinese government thinks of Citibank’s anarchistic policy.
The other two banks had to make several calls to other departments heads to receive to give confirmation. There was a distinct lack of employee training at Motel 168 when Rona was denied being checked-in because as staff had, again, not heard of the card, despite it being around for the best part of 10 years.
While it might make sense given that few employees are actual green card holders, this hardly justifies the need to carry your passport everywhere and sit through endless, tedious phone calls. The green card is supposed to work just as well as a Chinese ID card Want China Times adds:
“Getting China’s ‘green card’ is considered one of the most difficult tasks in the world. Only about 200 expatriates are granted a permanent residency status in China every year.”
Netease confirms that while over 600,000 foreigners reside in China only 4,700 foreigners have obtained the green card as of the end of 2011. The first foreigner to receive permanent residency in China was an 86 year-old American who had lived here for 56 years. Out of the 160,000 foreigners living in Shanghai in 2011, only 1,181 had the Chinese green card. All of which suggests that for most foreigners, obtaining a Chinese green card is just not worth the hassle.
Image courtesy of Oriental Outlook.