China has launched a reform of permanent residence certificates for foreigners, making the certificate more acceptable and recognisable to the public just like Chinese citizens' identity cards.
The foreigner's permanent residence card, known as the Chinese "green card," will be renamed as "foreigner's permanent residence identity card," highlighting its function as identity authentication, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said yesterday.
A chip with identity information will be embedded in the card, making it machine-readable, same as the Chinese residents' identification cards, state-run Xinua news agency reported.
The reform also aims to provide foreigners easier access to public services in China, and the work is expected to be finished before June.
The permanent residence certificate is a legal identification document for foreigners in China, but not many foreigners have it and the society has a low awareness of it, the MPS said.
Moreover, the current certificate cannot be read by machines in the same way as the identity cards of Chinese residents, bringing inconvenience to holders in the use of the card, the official said.
China is currently initiating steps to attract more foreign experts as it reconfigured its economy, which is slowing down from low end manufacturing to high technology.
Recent write-ups in Chinese official media also said China should attract more Indian professionals, specially from the IT sector.
A report in the state-run Global Times said local governments will allocate funds to upgrade facilities and train staff in railway stations, airports, banks, hotels as well as other related units to make sure the reform will be completed by the second quarter of this year.
An MPS official said that local governments would use the permanent residence certificate reform as a starting point for the introduction of other policies for foreigners.
China has made progress in easing its residence and entry policies for foreigners since September 2015, which helped attract more talent from overseas as well as boost international exchanges and the economy.
China last year issued a total of 1,576 permanent residence certificates to foreigners, an increase of 163 per cent over the previous year.