New cards to be more widely accepted
China has launched a reform of permanent residence certificates for foreigners, making the certificate more acceptable and recognizable by the public just like Chinese citizens' identity cards, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) announced Monday.
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 Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.
A chip with identity information will be embedded in the card, making it machine-readable, same as the Chinese residents' identification cards, said Xinhua.
The reform also aims to provide foreigners easier access to public services in China, and the work is expected to be finished before June, according to Xinhua.
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, an official from the MPS was quoted as saying.
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.
According to the official, 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.
"The acceptance of the 'green cards' will be largely expanded if the reform is successfully implemented," Noyan Rona, chief representative of Turkish Garantibank Shanghai, who received his permanent residence card in Shanghai in 2012, told the Global Times on Monday.
According to Rona, the existing certificate is incompatible with many systems such as the train ticket purchase and online payment systems because it lacks a 13-digit number as the Chinese identification cards have.
"Some people think that the 'green card' should only guarantee foreigners' right to live in China, but our access to public service should also be included," Rona said.
The 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, Xinhua reported.
The country issued a total of 1,576 permanent residence certificates to foreigners in 2016, an increase of 163 percent over the previous year, according to Xinhua.