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Social security may include foreigners
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Foreigners holding a permanent-residency permit and expatriates working in Shanghai are expected to be included in the city's social-security system.

The Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau revealed the proposition in a reply to a Shanghai People's Congress delegate's proposal of granting benefit equality.

The bureau said it had submitted the social-insurance draft, which is awaiting the official go-ahead from the city government.

According to the draft, the social-insurance policy expansion will cover expats working for city employers, foreigners who have acquired permanent residency and residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

If it is approved, qualified candidates will be allowed to join the city's pension, medical and industrial-injury insurance systems on level terms with their Shanghai-native counterparts.

People who have been paying into the city's pension fund for an accumulative period of 15 years before retirement age - 60 for men and 55 for women - can apply for pensions in the city.

Full details of the planned new system, such as how much salary people should surrender, are not available. At present, the city's social-security insurance is only open to overseas returnees who still have Chinese citizenship and hold a Shanghai residence card.

In 2004, the Ministry of Public Security launched a permanent-residency permit policy for foreigners, a practice similar to the United States "green-card" system.

Since then, 478 foreigners have acquired a "Chinese green card" in the city, according to the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.

"It should be an international routine for foreigners holding permanent-residency permits in one country to enjoy the country's citizen welfare and benefits," said Lou Pengying, an official with the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration.

Lou is the law maker who in January put the proposal to the meeting of the city's top legislative body. She suggested Shanghai should take the lead in offering foreign permanent-residency holders more rights, such as the social-security initiative and access to housing mortgages.

The city government said it would further study Lou's suggestions and liaise with the central government.

(Shanghai Daily July 9, 2008)

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