The Yanbian Public Security Bureau takes new measures to manage foreigners living or working in Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province. Photo: ybnews.cn
A crackdown on foreigners illegally living or working in the country has spread to Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture, Jilin Province, as the foreign ministry Thursday rejected claims of an "anti-foreigner trend."
The Yanbian Public Security Bureau said local police have pinpointed problematic areas where foreigners usually stay or illegally enter the prefecture.
Local police also set up a hotline and encouraged residents to report "illegal foreigners" during the five-month campaign, which started May 15.
The prefecture has a population of nearly 2.3 million, around 40 percent of whom are ethnically Korean.
Li Yongxue, director of the entry-exit management division of the bureau, told the Xinhua News Agency that some of the "illegal foreigners" had committed crimes and caused social problems in the prefecture.
Lü Chao, an expert in Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that most foreigners living in Jilin are from the two Koreas, including some "defectors" from the North.
"Some of the 'illegal foreigners' have settled in the region, married and had children. This crackdown will be much more difficult to enforce than those in other parts of China," Lü said.
"Local authorities need to consider human rights and historical factors during their operations. A campaign such as this should be continuous rather than sporadic," Lü added.
The move by Yanbian authorities follows the launch of a similar campaign launched on May 15 targeting foreigners living or working illegally in Beijing.
Authorities in the capital have tasked police to check foreigners for valid visas. Those found to be illegally staying in the country will be punished according to the law.
Authorities in Anhui Province said Thursday that they had handed over 39 Vietnamese illegally living and working in the province to immigration officials, marking the first large-scale repatriation of "illegal foreigners" since the campaign began.
Qiao Xinsheng, a professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, told the Global Times that punishment of foreigners breaching visa or immigration laws is common in other countries and is necessary in China, too.
He noted that the campaign should be carried out in accordance with the law, and authorities need to avoid turning it into a movement against foreigners.
"Repetitive short-term crackdowns may trigger misunderstandings among foreigners. An administration system for foreigners who live or work in China needs to be established," Qiao said.
A draft law on China's entry-exit administration, proposed and discussed in late April by top legislators, stipulates that foreigners working in China need to acquire a valid work visa and other legal documents.
It added that foreigners found to be illegally entering, living or working in China can be deported and banned from entering the country for up to five years.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei Thursday denied there was an "anti-foreigner trend" in China.
"The government welcomes foreigners from all walks of life to come to China, and will offer various conveniences for their living and working, and protect their legitimate rights and interests," Hong said.
"Meanwhile, we ask foreigners in China to abide by Chinese laws and regulations, and respect the culture. and customs of Chinese," he added.