Besides a heavy dose of routine legislative scrutiny, the National People’s Congress is reviewing five draft laws in five days, the topics ranging from seniors’ rights to government budgets.
But the small yet growing expat community across the country will be most interested in the third reading of the draft law on exit and entry control. Especially in the wake of the recent media frenzy over the city of Beijing’s ongoing efforts to deal with illegal immigration.
Over-analysis and misinterpretation of the initiative brewed concern that the once welcoming Chinese people are becoming xenophobic.
The authorities have tried hard to explain that this concern is unwarranted. There was a genuine need to clamp down on illegal immigration and the country is committed to opening up further to the outside world.
That Beijing’s action on illicit immigration was misinterpreted has much to do with the lack of specifics in the current laws about due procedure.
The exit and entry of Chinese and foreign nationals is subject to two separate laws introduced in the 1980s and a 1990s regulations on frontier control. Merging the two laws and putting Chinese and foreign nationals under the same law is a noticeable step forward in the nation’s jurisprudential thinking.
As the country opens its doors wider and becomes an increasingly attractive place to live and work in, issues related to immigration will inevitably loom large on the horizon. For that we need more sophisticated management.
The draft law on exit and entry is intended to address some exit and entry management problems that have arisen in recent years with China’s remarkable economic growth.
The current version of the new draft law, after extensive consultations with legal experts and the general public, defines illicit entry, stay and employment in clearer terms. This will certainly be conducive to avoiding confusion and misunderstanding and will make things easier for foreigners who come and stay legally.
At present there is a big demand for overseas talent, from education-related service jobs to high-tech professionals, and the demand will only increase in the future. That is why we hope lawmakers will look beyond immediate needs in discussing the current draft.