Foreign investors gain rare residency honour
Anhui province has given five foreign corporate leaders permanent Chinese residency as a reward for their investment and contributions to the region - the first time the special status has been granted in the province.
Two German and three Japanese businessmen received the special status in Hefei on Wednesday at a ceremony held jointly by the provincial Government and officials from the Public Security Bureau.
'These five have been in China for a long time, and they have all made substantial investments in the region,' said Sun Li, a senior official with the Anhui provincial Public Security Bureau.
'But more importantly, they have obeyed the laws and regulations of the Chinese Government and have been good to the Chinese people,' he said.
'In the future, we will consider granting similar status to other foreigners who stay in China for a long period of time, make substantial economic contributions and, most importantly, respect Chinese laws.'
The permanent residency qualification grants holders the right to travel in and out of China for business or pleasure.
Visas will be stamped for five-year periods, and will be renewable for free without question.
The special status will also be granted to the spouses of the businessmen.
'I was really surprised, because normally things are much more complicated in China,' said German national Gerhard Roeck, general manager of BSH Cooling Appliances Company, a subsidiary of the Siemens corporation.
'But I must say, I'm quite delighted by it.
'I didn't even ask for it, and I don't think any of us did. They just gave them out.' BSH Cooling Appliances Company has invested about US$100 million (HK$780 million) into the eastern province of Anhui since 1996, and employs 1,100 people at its plant in Cihuo City.
'I think I was granted this status largely because my company has helped to contribute to the region's economic prosperity, but also because over the six years I've worked in Anhui I've developed excellent relations with the Government,' said Michijiro Kikawa, general manager of Hitachi's Hefei operations, which employs more than 500 workers.
The other recipients of the permanent residency are Sanyo's Masahiko Maeda, ADG Auto Body Repair's Noboru Watanabe and Leif Kan of WDO Automotive Instruments.
According to Mr Sun of the Anhui Public Security Bureau, similar privileges have been awarded by authorities in Wuhan.