Analysts called for the establishment of a comprehensive mechanism for managing foreigners in China, as Beijing police started a three-month campaign today targeting foreigners illegally staying in the capital.
According to the Exit-Entry Administration Department under the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau, foreigners targeted by the campaign are those who illegally entered China, stay in the capital with an expired visa or have a job without a working permit.
During the campaign, police will check foreigners have necessary documents. Those found to be "illegally staying" will receive punishments according to the law. Beijing residents are encouraged to report such violations by calling the bureau's hotline.
"More policemen will be dispatched on the streets in the downtown area such as Sanlitun, asking questions and doing random checks," Lin Song, media officer of the administration, told the Global Times.
"Some foreigners do not know Chinese laws well and they might feel strange being randomly questioned by the police, but it is necessary to improve their legal awareness and make sure they stick to Chinese regulations," Lin said.
The announcement came shortly after a British man was detained by police after allegedly molesting a young Chinese woman on May 8 in Beijing.
According to the bureau, most of the foreigners who illegally stay in the capital do not have a proper job or a stable income, and they have become a major source of crimes.
Government data showed that foreigners entering and exiting the Chinese mainland in 2010 totaled 52.11 million, a 133 percent increase on 2001. The number last year was 54.12 million.
Statistics from the Ministry of Public Security showed that more than 20,000 foreigners were found to be illegally staying in China in 2011.
Zhang Xin, an associate professor on public management at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that it is obvious that the country is attracting more and more foreigners with its growing international status, which has also brought many social problems.
"The key to solving this problem is to establish a long-term mechanism, such as an institution similar to an immigration office, rather than sporadic and temporary crackdowns that may leave a bad impression on foreigners and is not beneficial to the city's development in the long run," Zhang said.
A US national, who works for an international NGO in Beijing but only holds a one-year tourist visa, told the Global Times that there are many foreigners like him working without a proper visa, but none of them have been found and punished by authorities.
He complained about difficulties in getting a working visa, but did not offer any details.
A draft law on China's Exit-Entry Administration, proposed and discussed in late April by top legislators, stipulates that foreigners working in China need to acquire a work permit and legal documents.
It added that foreigners found to be illegally entering, living or working in China can be deported and banned from entering the country for five years.