China considers fingerprinting foreigners


Visitors have their photos taken in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on August 17, 2011.


Peter Parks

China is considering implementing new visa rules that would include fingerprinting foreigners who want to stay in the country for extended periods, the Guardian reported.

The new rules, according to a report in the official China Daily newspaper, would affect journalists, students and foreigners who want to live and work in China.

The draft law allows Chinese ministries to develop a system in which they can gather biological identification data on foreigners who wish to stay in China for longer than six months.

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Yang Huanning, vice minister of public security, told lawmakers that biological identification data are "effective measures" in identification and can speed up customs procedures, China Daily reported.

The draft of the new rules aims to "facilitate exchanges while making sure that those who should not enter are kept out," he said.

There were 260 million arrivals and departures to and from China from January to September this year, it stated.

The Guardian reported that China is following procedures similar to what happens in the West.

The US routinely fingerprints foreign visitors as part of the visa application process, part of tighter controls introduced after the 9/11 attacks. Britain has also introduced biometric passports, using facial recognition technology, that reduce waiting time in airports. China Daily pointed to Norway, South Korea and Switzerland as examples of countries that encode fingerprints in passports.