With only 4,700 foreigners having accepted permanent residency in China since it became available in 2004 until the end of 2011, local officials are pondering changes to the plan to attract more takers.

Qualifying seems simple enough. Foreigners who have been employed for at least four consecutive years at the level of assistant general manager or higher. Also, non-Chinese residents who make a minimum investment of USD 500,000 and receive a positive return on that for three years are eligible, according to the South China Morning Post. Spouses of permanent residency holders may also be eligible for the creatively named "green card."

The rewards also seem worthwhile for the long-term China resident: no need for visa renewals, no maximum stay, and the right to work. However, it comes with a significant downside, one which may be a primary factor in the small number of takers: China gains the right to tax the recipient's global income. Also, many long-term residents do not hold positions at the level required by the government, preventing them from applying.

While other foreign recruitment plans such as the "1,000 Talent Plan," designed to attract high-level scientists to jobs in China, have been more successful, placing 4,100 applicants in the last five years, other visa schemes, including the 72-hour, visa-free visitation for Beijing have also fallen short. All this comes against a backdrop of a declining number of foreign visitors to Beijing.

Beyond stating that the application procedure should apply more "practical and flexible" criteria to the process, no specific plan for reform was presented.

Photo: China Decoded

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