From Dec.1st on, Yiwu begins to register non-Chinese citizens in social security programs. Foreigners working in Yiwu are all eligible for joining the program, enjoying the same welfare as Yiwu locals can, such as medical insurance, unemployment insurance，on-duty injury insurance and maternity cover.
Manufacturers in Yiwu in eastern China’s Zhejiang province who have been doing business on credit have found many foreign business partners have fled the country without paying for their goods.
Around 70 small business owners in the area, famous for its small commodities trade, who have been doing business with a company called Arumaria Import and Export have divided themselves into ten groups to take turns to keep close tabs on the company’s office and accountant because its owner, a Sudanese national, has delayed payments for months and fled back to Sudan, according to the China-based Huaxia Shibao or China Times (not our sister paper).
His accountant, also Sudanese, left to extend his visa on Tuesday, creating panic among the Yiwu entrepreneurs who feared he would run away like his boss, who took a flight back to Sudan on Sept. 19 after he was unable to pay for the goods he had purchased on credit since February.
Chen Aizhen, an Yiwu entrepreneur who manufactures clothes, shoes and bags, said she sold shoes worth over 100,000 yuan (US$16,000) to Arumaria in April, for which the Sudanese owner paid in two installments after a short delay. In May, Chen sold another 100,000 yuan of goods to the firm but when she went to the company in August for payment, she found other creditors swarming the firm’s office also seeking the money owed to them, according to Huaxia Shibao.
The owner showed up at the end of August to pay back parts of the money owed and Chen received 20,000 yuan (US$3,200). The owner flew back to Sudan on Sept. 19, claiming he was returning to get the money to pay his creditors.
However, Xu Zhilong, the owner’s Chinese partner from Zhejiang province, likewise departed for Sudan soon after. The owner’s Sudanese accountant was also found trying to board a plane for his home country at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport with a fake passport the owner had sent him in October.
The number of foreign businesspeople leaving China without paying for the goods they purchased has surged this year due to a poor economic outlook. Wang Huiling, a senior lawyer at a law firm partnering with local police, said most of the business disputes in the area involve foreign clients. Enterprises in Yiwu are accustomed to doing business on credit instead of insisting on cash, said Wang. Wang said they often neglect to take precautions such as examining the signatures and passports of their foreign partners or keeping copies of their passports. Some Yiwu businesses like to work with foreign nationals because they may assume they are trustworthy.
An Yiwu entrepreneur said foreign nationals can start a business in the city easily, renting a room and furnishing it with a few chairs, tables and computers. Disputes with them are often very complicated, however, and the lawsuits also take much longer and are much more expensive to pursue, so many businesses may choose to accept the loss, according to Huaxia Shibao.
Chen said doing business on credit places her at risk but in the current climate no foreign merchants are willing to offer cash up front.
The main business partners of companies in Yiwu have come from Europe and America, though due to the European debt crisis and the poor US economy, many companies have turned to the Middle East and African markets.
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Editor’s note: The following was translated and edited from a report that appeared on the China News Service website, supplemented with material from China Daily and The Telegraph. It concerns a projected change to entry and exit laws that may possibly give more foreigners a chance to claim legal permanent residency in China, currently an extremely exclusive privilege that even those who meet the criteria often wait decades to obtain.
According to information released on November 14 by China’s Ministry of Public Security’s Exit and Entry Administration deputy director Qu Yunhai, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are currently in talks to consider relaxing restrictions on applications for the Chinese “green card” for foreigners.
According to Qu’s statement made in Washington D.C., many foreigners, including those of Chinese ethnicity, have commented on the restrictions surrounding China’s “green card” system, generally expressing hope that such restrictions could be relaxed.
Qu revealed that the two Ministries are currently “considering expanding the limits of the green card [to include more applicants], which is expected to be released soon and will cause a noticeable impact.”
A boost for China’s technology sector
When the “green card” was first introduced in August of 2004, it was intended to encourage high-level foreigners to invest in business and promote technology and cultural sectors, at the same time satisfying many foreigners’ desire to reside permanently in China.
As of the end of 2011, more than 4,700 foreigners currently hold a Chinese “green card”, according to official statistics. After earning a “green card”, foreigners may reside in China indefinitely, entering and exiting with just a passport and the green card itself, without the need to apply for visas.
Liu Guofu, an expert in immigration law from the Beijing Institute of Technology, told reporters that the change mostly targets foreign workers in the technology sector. Previously, foreigners were required to hold a position of deputy general manager or associate professor or higher for at least four years to be eligible for permanent residency. According to Liu, the proposed change will remove the level of the position held from the list of green card criteria, although it will require 10 years of residency (including at least nine months out of each year) in China before candidates can become eligible.
According to Qu’s statement, the new entry-exit laws will be put into effect on July 1 of next year.
Despite the promise of change, many foreigners are hesitant to show optimism. Gilbert van Kerckhove, a Belgian expat interviewed by the British news service The Telegraph, says he’s been living in China for 30 years. Despite having held a high-level advisory position, winning awards for contributions to China, and being married to a Chinese woman, his permanent residency wasn’t granted until 2008.
Van Kerckhove seems to believe that just because you meet the stringent requirements for permanent residency—which include having a high-level job, making investment, and having made a “great” contribution to China—doesn’t mean you’re going to get it anytime soon. Van Kerckhove says the majority of “green cards” awarded are to returning overseas Chinese, or given as “prestige” gifts to important personages who never actually reside in China. “People like me,” he says, referring to green card holders who are both nationally and ethnically foreign, “are a minority.”
For those lucky enough to hold the “green card”, however, new changes may be something to look forward to. Wang Huiyao, deputy director of China Talent Research, a government-affiliated human resources institution, told China Daily that a new document, to be released as early as December, will grant green card holders the same rights as Chinese citizens, except the right to elect officials or to be elected as an official.
Wang says the document will also allow holders to use their green card as a sort of “travel certificate”, which may be used to check into hotels.
Yiwu – More than 9,000 trade and industry buyers visited the 13th China (Yiwu) International Exhibition on Hosiery, Knitting, Dyeing & Finishing Machinery which closed today in Yiwu, China.
With 200 exhibitors, the four day event played host some of the world’s leading manufacturers of machinery and ancillary equipment for the sock and hosiery industries as well as representatives from the circular and warp knitting sectors.