Beijing police to 'clean out' illegal foreigners


ACCOMPANIED BY a powerful logo of a giant smashing fist, Beijing authorities have launched a 100-day campaign to “clean out” foreigners living or working illegally, amid online fury over the bad behaviour of overseas residents.

The move comes a week after disturbing video footage of a British tourist sexually assaulting a young Chinese woman before being tackled by angry passersby, and later being attacked again as he lay unconscious on the ground.

The video was viewed more than 10 million times on Chinese video site Youku

Police say the campaign has nothing to do with this particular incident although no official reason for the timing of the crackdown has been provided. They say anyone who enters China illegally, or who overstays their visas or work permits will be punished.

The crackdown will continue until the end of August. Places to be targeted include the Santilun bar and shopping district and areas around university campuses.

Beijing has become increasingly attractive to foreigners as the Chinese economy has boomed.

As part of the campaign Beijing police will tighten reviews of visa applications, scour areas with lots of foreigners and “mobilise the public to report them”, the Xinhua News Agency said.

The capital has reported 13,000 cases of illegal entry, overstaying and illegal employment concerning foreigners from more than 100 countries since 2008, according to exit-entry statistics.

Lin Song, the police officer in charge of the campaign, said there were “major problems”. On its Weibo microblog site, police said a big issue was international students taking on part-time work, in violation of the terms of their visa.

“We will enforce the rule and make sure every foreigner knows that,” Mr Lin told China Daily.

Beijing has the second-largest population of foreign residents in China – 120,000 at the end of last year, second only to Shanghai.

Foreigners are now required to carry passports and accommodation registration documents at all times.

The image of foreigners in China has been mixed recently. There was also much online attention for the American who shared his chips with a homeless woman on the streets of Nanjing.

The crackdown on foreigners follows China’s first known expulsion of an accredited foreign journalist since 1998, when officials refused to renew the visa and accreditation of Melissa Chan, an American reporter for al-Jazeera English in Beijing.

In an editorial, the Global Times said: “Chinese police should take a tough attitude in the fight against illegal foreigners,” but it acknowledged that “mishandling this problem may lead to diplomatic friction, as foreigners are involved”.