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Xinhua Interviews Public Security Bureau on New Exit-Entry Law

Xinhua Press Agency has published an interview with the Public Security Bureau (PSB) about China’s new Exit-Entry Administration Law. Predictably, the questions are all softballs.

Some of the topics covered include detention and deportation procedures; penalties for issuing fake invitation letters or other application materials to foreigners; and collection of fingerprints and biometric data from foreigners.

I’ve posted below an English translation of the June 30, 2012, interview.

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Beijing, June 30 (Xinhua): Better Protecting the National Interest and the Orderliness of the Exit-Entry Process: The Public Security Bureau Answers Reporters’ Questions About the Exit-Entry Administration Law

Reporters Yang Weihan, Shi Jingnan, and Liu Yizhan

On June 30, the Exit-Entry Administration Law was passed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee,  and it will become effective July 1, 2013. Reporters interviewed Public Security Bureau staff on some related questions.

The Law Heightens Requirements for Administration and Law Enforcement by Public Security Organs

Q: What significance does the launch of the Exit-Entry Administration Law have for the strengthening and improvement of the Public Security organs’ exit-entry administration?

A: The new law makes innovations and improvements in exit-entry administration organizations, systems, mechanisms, etc. It contributes to the strengthening and improvement of exit-entry administration work by Public Security organs. It heightens the requirements for administration and law enforcement by Public Security organs.

The law more strictly regulates all aspects of law enforcement requirements and procedures. For example, the law clarifies provisions for detention and investigation. It provides that when a person is detained and investigated there should be documentation of this. And an inquiry should begin within 24 hours. If it is discovered that the detention and investigation was wrong, they should be cancelled immediately. If it’s necessary to extend detention and investigation, approval should be given by the next higher level of the local people’s government Public Security organ or Exit-Entry Frontier Defense Inspection organ. The law also clarifies circumstances in which detention and inspection is not appropriate.

Compared with current laws and regulations, the Exit-Entry Administration Law has more emphasis on Exit-Entry staff’s rights and interests, and requires higher quality and standards for law enforcement in Public Security’s exit-entry administration.

Ongoing Building of a Complete System for Investigation and Enforcement

Q: Does the law have provisions to be vigilant and to investigate various illegal activities related to exit-entry administration?

A: The law further improves exit-entry enforcement measures and liability provisions, contributing to enforcement of the law, vigilance, and investigation of various kinds of illegal activities related to exit and entry administration, protecting the orderliness of exit and entry.

First, the law builds a fairly complete system for exit-entry enforcement, including continuing to provide for investigations, detention and inspection, restrictions on the scope of foreigners’ activities, summons, deportation, etc., to fully meet the needs of law enforcement work. Also, there are provisions regarding the deportation system and detention centers. The law establishes an agency dedicated to the deportation of foreigners. And there are uniform provisions for the canceling, invalidating, and seizing documents related to exit and entry.

Second, the law improves provisions for legal liability. To ensure that normal exit-entry procedures are followed in practice, some penalty provisions were added. For example, the penalties were increased for issuing fake invitation letters or other application materials to foreigners, which is an effective response to recent illegal conduct. Consistent with the economic and social development situation, the scope of suitable penalties has been broadened, including some new detention provisions. And consistent with the realities of exit-entry administration enforcement, authority for on-the-spot fines and seizures has been increased.

The law authorizes the Public Security and Foreign Affairs Ministries to promulgate regulations regarding collection of fingerprints and other biometric data of persons exiting or entering the country, as needed for exit-entry administration and with the State Council’s approval.

Collecting and saving the fingerprints and other biometric data of persons exiting or entering the country, then comparing them to records on file can be an effective way to verify identity. It can improve exit-entry administration. It’s a meaningful way to protect national security. At the same time, it can improve efficiency in port clearance procedures and be convenient for travelers.

The use of biometric data technologies at the border is in keeping with international practices. Currently, every EU member state, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, and other countries and regions store fingerprint information in machine-readable passports. The United Kingdom, U.S., Japan, Korea, and other countries already issue visas with fingerprint information or collect it from foreigners upon admitting foreigners.

In 2005, Public Security organs began collecting fingerprint information from persons exiting or entering our country on a voluntary basis, allowing them to use self-service procedures to pass through border inspection. This received a positive response. So far, over 4 million travelers have voluntarily put their fingerprints on file.

For Overseas Chinese, Relatively Major Revisions and Reforms to Exit-Entry Administration

Q: Overseas Chinese are an important segment of international travelers. Does the law revise and reform immigration procedures for them?

A: The Exit-Entry Administration Law actively responds to the practical needs of overseas Chinese. The law makes two relatively major revisions and reforms to related immigration procedures:

First, there are changes to the system for overseas Chinese to apply and be approved for residing in China. Under current law, to apply for residence, they should apply to the Public Security organ at the place where they intend to live, and the provincial-level Public Security organ will check and issue the returning resident certificate. The Overseas Chinese Affairs Department is specialized in administering matters for overseas Chinese. It has responsibility for receiving and thoroughly investigating overseas Chinese returning residence application. It has a good understanding of overseas Chinese policies and can conveniently handle related procedures for overseas Chinese. So the new Exit-Entry Law stipulates: “If Chinese citizens residing overseas seek to reside again in China, they should apply at a Chinese embassy, consulate, or other overseas entity commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before reentering the country. They may also apply personally or through relatives at the people’s government Overseas Chinese Department at the country level or above in the location where they intend to reside.

Second, the new law clarifies overseas Chinese can use their passports as evidence of identity within the country. Since overseas Chinese have no residence certificate (hukou) or national ID card, living and engaging in other activities can be negatively impacted. To resolve the difficulties of overseas Chinese in proving identity, the new law stipulates: “Chinese citizens who reside abroad may, within China, use their passports as evidence of identity to handle finance, education, medical treatment, traffic, telecommunications, social insurance, property registration, etc.”

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