Trying to impress my 8-year-old son, Jacob, I told him that I was quoted in today’s Wall Street Journal about how China’s national soccer team is seeking to recruit foreign players. His response: that was an odd choice by the Journal because dad knows nothing about soccer. Sigh.
My son’s opinion of my soccer skills is accurate, but I think that the Journal’s article, by Chun Han Wong, is spot on:
After trying unsuccessfully for years to forge a world-class national men’s soccer team, China signaled it was considering a surprising new tack: offering citizenship to foreign players….
Yet Beijing hasn’t issued detailed criteria for citizenship applications. Gary Chodorow, a China-based immigration lawyer, said he wasn’t aware of any recent examples of foreigners [residing in Mainland China] attaining Chinese citizenship, while approvals for permanent residency are highly selective.
As of 2013, only about 7,300 foreigners have received so-called green cards, the state-run China Daily reported Tuesday. The most notable recipient in professional sports is Stephon Marbury, the American former National Basketball Association point guard who led the Beijing Ducks basketball team to three national championships.
“The system is too opaque,” Mr. Chodorow said. “There aren’t many details on how the approval processes work, or what criteria they’re looking for.”
My opinion is that more transparent naturalization rules would help China reach the State Council’s goals for recruiting international talent, whether that’s soccer players or world-class scientists.
The article, behind the Journal’s paywall, is here.