A post on the awesome OneManBandwidth blog says goodbye to many expat friends, and mentions an unexpected side effect of the inability to get and keep a legit working visa in education:
Teachers were affected about a year ago when the government stopped processing visa renewals and work permits regionally. Now, all education hires must be processed outside of mainland China. In Guangzhou, a highly qualified business visa holder could once have lectured at a college or university and bypass myriad education ministry rituals meant to ensure teacher quality with their “foreign expert” certification requirements. But the police searched records this year and several local colleges were forced to let go of instructors, some in the middle of their teaching semesters. Ironically, the new rules have not upped the standards, but have driven institutions scramble and they solicit anyone (anyone white) and with a pulse for positions. And because institutions know that the new teachers won’t be around for long, especially now, the foreigners are generally saddled with mind-numbing oral English classes even if they hold credentials or have experience that qualify them for other jobs.
He also says:
And this week I volunteered my time to a new NGO that asked me not to recruit too many expats. They expressed concern that if too many foreigners became a part of the relief efforts in Sichuan that the government might revoke their politically fragile charter.
It is really rough that visa difficulties are affecting expats like Lonnie Hodge and company. Lonnie’s worked for children’s libraries in China and for earthquake relief, and given so much time and effort and love to China.
I went into New York yesterday to drop off my application and paperwork for a Z (working) visa and was completely and utterly rejected. Seems that my working permit indicates that I’ll be living in China for purposes of employment, while my invitation letter says I’ll be participating in a vague-sounding “exchange program”.
My employer ensures me that this is the same phrasing they’ve used to obtain Z visas for other foreign experts in the past… but as you all know, what used to be good enough isn’t cutting the mustard these days. A new invitation letter is on the way, but since it’s issued by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs there’s no telling how long it’ll take. My flight back to Beijing on July 17 is in serious jeopardy.
Michael has lived and worked in Xinjiang for a couple years, and has volunteered there, and has brought the world of Uighur music and culture to the ‘net, and just been an amazing travel blogger. (I seem to remember you were on a Korla documentary, as well?)
China was kind of due for a cleanup, any expat will tell you about the fly-by-night “language centers” and “English teachers” who’d be completely unemployable back home. But why toss out the folks who’ve really invested into China?
Flotsam of the Chamber of Ten Thousand Flowers has a good theory on the new visa restrictions:
To speak to a native Beijinger a reporter will probably need an interpreter, and the native Beijinger will probably already know what he must [and not] say to foreign reporters. To speak to a foreign resident would not be quite so irksome – and finding foreigners is remarkably easy, just stand in the high street of any large city and see how easy it is to spot the laowai amongst the surrounding sea of jet black hair and tanned faces – and if the questions became too probing who knows what might be said and then reported? Do you now begin to see the danger? So, to present the world with a picture of an unflawed harmonious society the way ahead is to make sure that the only people available on the streets are re-educated natives and first time tourists, that way there will be no embarrassing stories to deal with.
Time will tell.