The number of foreign citizens living in Shanghai exceeded 173,000 by the end of last year, a 6.7 percent increase compared to 2011, officials said yesterday.
The number of foreign citizens living in Shanghai exceeded 173,000 by the end of last year. [Xinhua]
They make up a quarter of such citizens on China's mainland. Most of them live in nearly 80 neighborhoods across the city, the Shanghai Exit & Entry Administration Bureau said.
In 2004, China began to allow foreign citizens to gain permanent residence and since then 1,478 had obtained their "Green Card" in Shanghai, also a quarter of the country's total, Guo Jianxin, the bureau's director, said.
To better serve foreign residents in the city, the bureau, along with neighborhood committees, last year launched five Foreign Service Centers in the Hongqiao area and Zizhu industrial zone of Minhang District, Lianyang community in the Pudong New Area, Xintiandi in Huangpu District and the Gaojing area of Qingpu District to provide exit and entry services.
As the city's first Foreign Service Center, the office in Hongqiao served people from countries including Australia, North Korea, the United States, Germany, the Philippines and Canada but the majority of those seeking help were South Koreans due to the makeup of the population there.
Hongqiao town, administered by the Minhang District government, is home to 23,750 overseas citizens, and over 50 percent are South Korean, making the area the largest concentration of South Korean expats in Shanghai.
Staff who work at the center speak several languages.
The idea for setting up the service center originated from the Minhang branch director of the city's Exit-Entry Administration Office.
The director, surnamed Wang, said she visited the Korean Chamber of Commerce in Minhang and learned that a number of people had difficulty in applying for temporary accommodation registration or getting extensions to work-related residence permits as they had to visit one place to pick up the forms and another to file them. The bureau for applications was in the Pudong New Area, far from Minhang. Overseas citizens are required to register within 24 hours after they enter China.
After Hongqiao, similar centers were launched in Lianyang, Zizhu, Gaojing and Xintiandi.
With the increase in the foreign population, overseas citizens are now allowed to observe the affairs of local neighborhood committee and take part in the administration of the neighborhood, the Xintiandi center said.
Five overseas observers - two Chinese with US citizenship and three people from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, briefed residents, assisted in voter registration and monitored an election in the Xintiandi area last August. They will continue to work with sub-committees in property management, the environment, sports and culture and offer suggestions, officials said.
Dai Qiming, an official with the Xintiandi community, said the move helped facilitate understanding between residents and committee officials.