Longer wait for China residency permits irk foreign firms
By Michael Martina
BEIJING (Reuters) - Foreign executives in China are upset at a new rule that allows authorities to hold passports for up to 15 working days when processing and renewing residency permits, saying it could disrupt essential business travel within China and abroad.
The changes are evidence to those who argue China is becoming a harder place to do business, especially following a wave of antitrust investigations that some executives contend have singled out foreign firms.
The increased processing time from five working days had prompted a "flood" of complaints from the expatriate community, said Gary Chodorow, a Beijing-based immigration lawyer at Hong Law Offices.
"What concerns companies is profits. When people are grounded they are not doing business. They are not making money," he said.
The new rules took effect on July 1. Chinese officials have said they aim to deal with the rising flow of foreigners coming to China and to protect national security and social order.
The Ministry of Public Security handles residency applications, which are renewed annually.
Chodorow said the new rules could hamper travel for foreign executives who oversee offices throughout Asia, especially as cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have encouraged multinationals to establish Asia-Pacific headquarters there.
Foreigners are required to show passports when travelling by train or plane within China, and for registering at hotels. Continued...