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Address for the Press Conference(April 27, 2007)
2007-04-27Text Size: A A A

Since the implementation of the reform and opening up policy, China’s overall strength has been increased, the international standing has risen and the communications with foreign countries have been more frequent. Besides serving for the overall diplomatic task of the country, the works on foreign affairs and consulate are tying up increasingly with the enterprises and the common people. As the administrative department of local foreign affairs, we have a grave duty on the aim of foreign affairs at serving for the people. The Central Working Conference on foreign affairs last August was a great strategic act for the CPC Central Committee to enhance and improve the work on external affairs. CPC Zhejiang Committee and CPC Ningbo Committee held meeting on foreign affairs respectively, in which the new objectives and tasks were brought forward for the new situation. In order to act in the spirit of these meetings, to insist that local foreign affairs should serve for the overall national diplomacy, the local economic and social development, to offer greater convenience to external changes and the common people, and to bring more benefits of the achievements on foreign affairs to the people, today, I would like to deliver related information to the local media on this occasion of the press conference.

I. The legislation on passport

On January 1st 2007, “The Law on Passport of the People’s Republic of China” officially came into effect. The key issue of the legislation on passport is on the necessity of public passport. During the 12years of the preparation for “the Law”, adhering to the national situation and stage of the reform and opening up, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had striven to keep the existing administrative system of public passport, and to make full use of current public visa application channel which is widely accepted by those foreign embassies and consulates in China, in order to support the enterprises to go abroad for their participation in the international cooperation and competition. The pass of “the Law” by the National People’s Congress is the result of the plentiful researches made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On the basis of the legislative principle of dividing Chinese passports into diplomatic, service and public affairs passports, the passport for public affairs is preserved. We should cherish this hard-won result. We hope that the organizations and the enterprises can cooperate actively with Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office on the administration of the staff going abroad, to ensure the effective implementation of the visa agreements with 58 foreign countries, to maintain the reputation of public affairs passports and keep the channel unblocked.

II. The administration of overseas visits with public affairs passports

Strengthening the administration of overseas visits with public affairs passports is an important guarantee for the implementation of “going-out” strategy and the further opening up to the outside world. With the deepening of the reform and opening up in Ningbo, in recent years, about 10,000 people go abroad with public affairs passports annually, making up 25% of the total amount in the whole province. Whether these visits can be ensured has close relationship with the sound implementation of the “going-out” strategy and further development of the reform and opening up in our city. Therefore, in the light of propelling the modernization drive and building up the harmonious society, we run the administration of overseas visits by public affairs passports holders and explore fresh managing pattern and methods in the practice. In order to make the administration of overseas visits with public affairs passports healthy, effective and in proper order, meanwhile, to set an honest and practical image of Ningbo citizens both at home and abroad, Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office has worked positively to set up “the system of responsibility for the enterprises’ overseas visits with public affairs passports” on the base of abundant investigation and research this year. The system has been trying out in selected enterprises in Ningbo. So far 103 enterprises have signed agreements with our office. It is originate in the country and has been fully affirmed by the Consulate Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We will further summarize, improve and make the work perfect and sound.

III. Consular authentication

Consular authentication, a diplomatic function of a country, is introducing and confirming legal documents to foreign countries in the name of the country in order to acquire the equal legal position in foreign countries for these documents. With the increase of the external communications, the range of the consular authentication for the people and the enterprises in Ningbo has kept enlarging. Around 10,000 documents need to be authenticated annually, involving studying abroad, visiting one’s friends or relatives, labor services, settlement, marriage to foreigners, adoption, legacy inheritance, trademark registration, company registration, contract, investment bid, dispute arbitration etc. The consular authentication, closely relating to the interests of Chinese people, is the important content for the diplomatic aim of serving for the people.
Through years of hard work, last year Foreign Affairs Office of Ningbo Municipal Government was officially authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to handle the consular authentication for the commercial and notary documents of the enterprises and citizens in Ningbo of its own from February 1st 2007. It will bring great convenience to the enterprises and citizens in Ningbo.

Range of the authentication
1. Notary documents issued by notary institutions in Ningbo; 
2. Commercial documents issued and authenticated by China Council for Promotion of International Trade Ningbo subcouncil;
3. Commercial documents issued and sealed by Ningbo Exit and Entry Inspection and Quarantine Administration;
4. Consular authentication for foreign Consulate-General in Shanghai;
5. Delivery of consular authentication to Ministry of Foreign Affairs: notary and commercial documents used in Cambodia, Ireland, Jamaica, and Venezuela. These countries do not have consulates in Shanghai or haven’t been authorized for consular authentication;
6. Notary and commercial documents need to be confirmed by Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their use in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Ⅳ. APEC Business Travel Card

“APEC Business Travel Card Scheme” was put forward by Australia, Korea, and the Philippines in 1997 to improve the regional economic development and to promote the exchanges among the people within the region. The travel card equals 3-year multiple-entry visa. With the travel card and the valid passport, the travel card holder can enter or exit the member economies without visa and stay for no more than two months each time. The member economies provide special passages for the travel card holders to go through customs formalities quickly.

China joined the program in February 2002, and has carried out it since November 2003. So far, 17 member economies of APEC have joined and implemented the travel card scheme. These include China, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Indonesia, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Viet Nam, Chile, Peru, and Papua New Guinea. However, the travel card is not applicable on the personnel exchanges among Chinese mainland, Chinese Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. Up till now, 31,000 people both in the region have applied for the travel card. Among the 21 APEC members, the United States, Canada, Mexico and Russia haven’t joined the travel card scheme. On the meeting of APEC leaders in Viet Nam in November 2006, the United States announced the recognition for the Business Traveling Card to certain extent and to give convenience to the travel card holders on the application for the visa to the U.S. The travel card holders can make an appointment for interview directly with the embassy and consulate of the U.S. to China in certain consular area by fax without applying through the Shanghai Appointment Center. Furthermore, American side gives priority to the travel card holders in providing fast passage for them when they go through the customs formalities.

Since November 2003, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has begun to issue the cards to the government officials who engage in APEC affairs and the administrative staff in the large state-owned enterprises according to the principle of “proceeding in an orderly way and popularizing step by step”.

For the fulfillment of the “going-out” strategy of the CPC Central Committee, to help the private enterprises to expand overseas market, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has determined to accept the application of the travel card by personnel from private enterprises and formulated “the Rules on the Administration of Application of APEC Business Travel Card by personnel from Private Enterprises” on the base of strict investigation and suggestions from the related departments. Foreign affairs office of Ningbo Municipal Government is authorized to check the application documents and submit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

At present, our office is working on the APEC Business Travel Card for the managers and personnel from enterprises of the whole city.

V. Visa application

The visa application, a key component of the administration of entry and exit, and the reflection for the extent of opening up, closely connects with the national security, social stability, external communication, and economic construction in China.

Putting forward the “going-out strategy”, the CPC Central Committee encourages the capable enterprises to go abroad and expand the international market. However, the acquisition of visa to a foreign country is the key to overseas visits for these enterprises. At present, the visa application features: rapid increasing in the amount; tight visa policies of foreign countries because of the illegal migrates and stay; more complicated formality and more requirements of visa application; the tight visa policies which lead to longer period of application and lower rate in visa-issuing. With the emergence of the electronic passport, biological passport has become an important method in identity identification. After the American embassy and consulate’s requirement for the fingerprints of the applicants, in December 2004, European Union asked its members to officially carry out the biological visa system. Applicants are required to take a digital photo and leave their fingerprints. The system is a method to the applicants from the developing countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been seeking the solution to the problem, in order to protect the rights and interests of Chinese citizens.
With the economic and social development, the overseas visits with private passports increase rapidly. To solve the problem of difficulty in visa application of private passport holders, Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office has taken full use of foreign affairs channels and positively promotes work on visa application of private passport. Up to now, we have accepted 21,000 visa applications of private passport. The consulates general of 13 countries in Shanghai including Japan, Korea, Singapore, India, the Philippines, Egypt, the South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Brazil, Poland and Pakistan have authorized Ningbo International Service Center the acting agency for the visa application of private passports holders working on visa application of private passport to 90 countries. The visa of private passport to Japan and Peru can be applied in Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office directly. Meanwhile, the citizens of Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan and of other foreign countries who reside in Ningbo can also apply the visa of a third country in Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office

VI. Application for visa to China

In 2006, Ningbo Foreign Affairs Office accepted 5,006 visa applications, 8,296 foreigners who wanted to come to China, 97.3% came for business purposes.

The statistics shows that in 2006 nearly 100,000 foreigners visited Ningbo for business, tourism and investigation. So far, there are some 4000 foreigners residing in Ningbo.

Issuing visa to foreigners is an important link to the fulfillment of the “introducing” strategy. Inviting foreign business people to China is critical for the development of the local economy. Meanwhile, administration of official invitation letters issuing relates to the interests and security of the country. Some foreigners have been found working and staying illegally in some places of China, so the invitation of foreigners should be seriously applied and reported by local enterprises. Law-abiders should be encouraged, law-violators, stopped and restricted.

VII. Consular protection affairs

The situation and characteristics for the present consular protection affairs are that the population going abroad increases by millions annually; Chinese citizens and enterprises are taking active part in the foreign economic activities and making full use of the two markets and resources; the number of overseas project contracts and labor services are added increasingly. Approved by the State Council, the traveling destinations for Chinese citizens reached 108. China has become the biggest tourists exporting country in Asia. More people go abroad for traveling, doing business, studying or working and the destinations are becoming more various. In 2006, about 167,000 people in Ningbo went abroad.

The increase in overseas visits, the expansion of the overseas activities, and the extension of overseas interests have brought more risks to the rights and interests of our citizens abroad. The consular protection affairs has gone beyond the traditional consular affairs or even diplomatic affairs, and become a significant political task. On the request of the CPC Central Committee, local foreign affairs offices have taken the responsibility of consular protection affairs by establishing an emergency system and coordinating other local departments, in order to support the work of the Foreign Ministry. Mechanism of citizen consular protection has been set up by Niongbo Foreign Affairs Office according to the development of the situation.

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