By presenting their IDs and permanent residency cards, any citizen in the capital of Hangzhou in east China's Zhejiang province can now apply for a passport.
This renowned scenic city is one of the first in the country to simplify procedures for issuing passports, according to local public security authority.
"A permanent resident of Hangzhou city can apply for a passport by presenting his original ID, permanent residency card and recent photos," an official said at a recent press conference in the city.
Civil servants and citizens involved in confidential jobs had to get approval from their human resources departments before applying for a private passport, he said.
Under the old system, however, each applicant had to present written approval from his employer and an official document confirming his intention to go abroad.
Before the new practice was adopted, the public security authority in Hangzhou set up a databank that includes full details of its permanent residents and those prohibited from going abroad.
As a move to streamline China's administrative procedures, the practice is expected to be adopted nationwide by 2005, after undergoing trials in some large and medium-sized cities.
Statistics provided by the local public security authority show that nearly 62,500 Hangzhou citizens went abroad in 2001, some 20 times the 1989 figure. The first ten months of 2002 alone saw more than 70,000 citizens going abroad to visit relatives or travel.
(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2003)