China wants to reform its permanent resident application process to make it easier for foreigners to live and work in the country, the country's government said on Friday, amid efforts to stimulate its flagging economy with more inward investment.
China's Cabinet plans to widen the categories of foreigners in China and issue the equivalent of a US green card to help make the investment process more flexible. Procedures will be simplified and restrictions relaxed on foreign students seeking jobs in the country.
Foreigners who apply for Chinese permanent residency can obtain the same rights as Chinese citizens such as driver's licenses, social insurance, finance, education, health care, transportation , communications, employment and social insurance, property registration and litigation.
China's economy posted its slowest growth in a quarter of a century last year, expanding by 6.9 percent. Officials expect growth this year of between 6.5 and 7 percent, while once-robust interest among foreign investors is falling amid complaints over excessive government interference.
More than 7,000 foreigners have obtained permanent residency since restrictions were relaxed in 2004, a small fraction of the roughly 600,000 living in China. Many of those received the status as a reward for meritorious service to China's economy, the arts and sciences.