China to improve foreign permanent residence policies: Xinhua

Beijing's skyline is seen from a high-rise building as China warned residents across a large part of northern China to prepare for a wave of choking smog arriving over the weekend, in Beijing, China, December 18, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will improve its rules for issuing permanent residence status to foreigners, state media said on Monday, in an effort to boost the country’s talent pool.

China is striving to create millions of jobs in urban areas in coming years, even as its economic growth slowed to 6.7 percent in 2016, its slowest in 26 years.

“The reform serves the nation’s talent development strategy and responds to social concerns,” the official Xinhua news agency cited a reform group meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping as saying.

Xinhua on Sunday said in 2016, 1,576 foreigners became permanent residents, an increase of 163 percent on the previous year, citing Ministry of Public Security statistics.

The ministry said China had “made huge progress in easing its residence and entry policies for foreigners” since September 2015, which had helped attract more talent from overseas.

Foreign professionals, however, have at times complained about rigid visa policies.

Internet restrictions and heavy smog in major cities, such as the capital, Beijing, are also a challenge in attracting foreign talent, according to foreign business lobbies.

Reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Robert Birsel