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Record Residency Permits for Foreigners in Shanghai
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Shanghai has issued the highest number of permanent residency permits for foreigners on the mainland since the launch of the scheme.

More than 200 foreigners have been given the permits in the city.

The scheme, known as the Chinese equivalent of the "green card" system, was set up in August 2004.

Permit-holders are allowed to live and work in the country for 10 years without a visa.

More than 400 foreigners have applied for the certificates in Shanghai alone since the launch, according to sources in the Administration of Immigration and Emigration in Shanghai Public Security Bureau yesterday.

The bureau said a total of 224 applications were successful, the highest number on the mainland. Other popular cities include Beijing and Guangzhou.

The figure includes major investors, company bosses, university professors and overseas Chinese who have returned to work in the city.

Recipients come from a range of countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Singapore and Thailand.

One of the first foreigners to get one of the permits in the city was Swiss businessman William Keller.

He was the general manager of pharmaceutical company Roche China from 1996, before setting up his own consultancy firm, Keller Pharma, in 2003.

The 58-year-old was made an honorary citizen of Shanghai in 1998 and was then one of the first to receive the official permanent residency permit in 2004.

"The big thing is that it is not just the individual but the whole family that gets it," said Keller, whose two children were born in Shanghai.

"It's not just for the city either, but residency for the whole of the country.

"It helps a lot as you don't need to worry about visas any more. For me personally it is a big encouragement to stay."

Having both lived and worked in the Pudong area of the city since moving to China, Keller has witnessed first-hand its rapid development.

He delivered a speech as a representative of the city in Paris in 2001 when Shanghai was bidding to hold the World Expo 2010.

Foreigners eligible for the permits are those who hold senior posts in China, make large direct investments in the country or who have made outstanding contributions to the nation in their work.

By the end of last year, nearly 2,000 applications had been made nationwide for the permits. Only about one third of them were successful.

(China Daily August 31, 2006)

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