The Administration Horror or How not to loose nerves when dealing with Administrative issues
I have been doing consulting for many years in my native Europe, but never expected that coming to China for abrupt carer change and idea for getting new skills and knowledge will make me again entering the shoes of a trouble-shooting guy. And this time trouble shooting was in aspect of my own employment and visa issues, which first seemed to be secured from the Hiring Agent that require me to come to China.
The first step in China seems to be sucessful and secure. The agency did it all and I have started working on a contract. Soon the contract came out that never have been to the real employer, but with an agency and the real employer simply played some tricks which at the end of the contract ended in some addittional troubles for me like employee.
Most of early promised "must be" components like "initial trainig for the culture and orientation in China" turned into simple acts like assisting you in a but trip from agency offices to some hotel they put you to stay overnight. The "cultural program" turned into "find yourself Chinese language or culture cources" and the days off for holidays were only for Chinese holidays, not considering widely announced Christmas or Easter holidays recently also celebrated in China.
Noticing that from the very beginning there are legal documents denoting work experience (like Forejgn Work Permit) and employment taxes, later come that the Agency deliberately holds the Work Permit not to be discovered by me how and where it was obtained from.
More to this case is that because of that "mystic" work permit (that in contrary to Chinese laws that say that it should be hold by the foreigner, I have never never touched myself for reasons clear only to the Agency), for some time I was even forced to leave my passport at the school I am working. Which simply sounded to me at that time like a kind of human traficking and I struggled pationately against this practice, noting that I will inform my country's consular in China for this case and .... as a result at least I get my passport back.
Further to these strange practices the agency men seemed to play some tricks with the salary I should receive each months because never provide me any electronic code, denoting me that my payment has been authorised from relevant Chinese tax authorities. This bar-code could help you later if you want to obtain a record and proof of your work experience in China. Instead the Agency simulated sending each month some Excel-basec tables with salary size together with deductions made for housing and other services provided from the employer. Some sample reports were always exchanged but none of these was in fact a real Chinese legal documents. All year long the "theatre" was played just to simulate proper legal activities. And not providing you real evidences for the breaches of law committed.
Being new in China and cooperating without prior knowledge to basic Chinese practices to foreigners could also be a great trouble. You simply rely on people around you but they are not always the kind-hearted staff you need in this case. After these examples of human trafficking practices and lack of legal Chinese documents, at the end of my contract I have discovered that the first employer has done some strange address registration (not to say no registration at all at the place I was residing). This could bring me serious troubles if any police offices or authority had discovered it. Anyhow the problem was solved unexpectedly smoothly at the time I decided to change the job. A lot of reading , consultancy with Chinese people and other foreigners bring myself alone to the police station for registering me at the place I want to work and reside.
At the time I did it I noticed that the Chinese registration system started to keep a bad record on me as a person "hiding" for 10 months from the Chinese Authorities. Which always make me problems on obtaining future visas. Probably there is a way to overcome this bad record in some period of time - administrative electronic systems sometimes have these features. Anyhow the problem already caused me too much costs and troubles.
So - my advice is no matter how fine all agents describe the situation with your documents each foreigner simply to find a way to check at the nearby police station what is the registration status and all the time to hold the sheet (or a copy of the sheet with the red stamp) from the police denoting the place of residence.
Trying to break with this strange Work Agency that was my first experience working in China I have discovered many other Chinese laws and regulations. Without original of experts' certificate (I don't know why the agency keeps it still with it - maybe this knowledge will come to me in future with some other breaches of law that I need time to discover). I started the struggle how to obtain a new work permit. And never did it till now. It comes that in some provinces there are rules and law that your qualification for certain professions do not depend on your skills but on your origin. So no matter how much qualified or experienced your are in your profession, you simply should hold a passport of one or another nationality to prove this. So as example in Jiangsu province to be English teacher you should be born in England, America (the Chinese name for USA), Australia, Canada or South Africa. Everything else is simply a bulshit for Chinese - experiences, references, career record and University degrees. The criteria could be called discrimination in Western countries. In China this criteria is fixed by law and is not concidered polite to be called like it is in the West. At least won't be considered good behaviour. Dura lex sed lex is old Roman saying. So this are the realities of Chinese "lex populi" that are reasonable ones but simply unreasonably applied from local labor agents. Hope not so often for the others.
Thus, if you decide to focus on your so easy to get "English teacher career" in China simply always keep an eye to be legal and properly situated at the place you are: keep with you your Expert Certificate and Work Permit, and the sheet for residence with red stamp from the police. And never rely anybody that tells you that these documents should be kept anywhere by anybody else. This could cause you really big troubles because foreigners in China are always vulnerable and "other" Administration is good enough to hepl and provide consultancy but if only you know where to get this help and consultancy from.
I am high professional busines lecturer with Master's Degrees in Management and English literature. I have more than 10 years experience in teaching Business English and teaching Economics at the University.
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