How strict are Chinese laws
More than a year ago my arrival in China was a mixture of curiosity, strong positive bias to learn and to implement my knowledge and skills (strange, but well supported with my 15 years successful career in Europe). A year ago this all is like some lost dream and recently I have received a fair letter from another expat residing in China, commenting on my resume and assuming according to the facts he knew from our talks, the resume was a fake. And this letter made me very sad and depressed about the fact. Sad but true – China has turned me really a person with fake resume living on the edge of law.
And it was never in whole my career before coming to China. But what happened and why this change occur just in China?
The follow expat comments initially on Chinese laws: “I also know some of your problems are not because of you, but because of the laws here in China. You had a lot of bad luck. Still... Laws are the laws.”
Dura lex sed lex, said Romans. The laws in China are “dura” but not always readable by foreigners. The law preventing people to practice English teacher’s job if they are not citizens of United Kingdom, United States, sometimes Canada, Australia and South Africa (but no black, no, no, no black people from Africa, please). The question how much “native speakers of English” are Hispano origin American citizens, immigrant’s children who are British citizens and any other cases with bilingual people does not bother the Chinese people. They insist that this is a must criterion for being a TEFL teacher. The experience, credentials, qualifications in teaching does not make sense to law-makers in China. And the demand of TEFL teachers is naturally big in China and cannot be satisfied only by these “native speakers”. So job agents usually make some tricks with the documents of the applicants from other countries, insist very much on their good qualification and put them in totally illegal situation with visas and work permits just to satisfy Chinese needs of qualified TEFL teachers notwithstanding Chinese laws. At least if forgery is revealed the teacher will be expelled from China and the school will be fined considerably …. But the practice will continue anyhow. However demand on English teachers will be higher and higher in coming years with change of one-child policy. And forgery cases will increase with it.
“When I saw your resume on Linked-In, I was deeply disturbed. … you did not mention the high school you worked at. You said you worked at an university as a management consultant. But I know if I call that university and contact the H.R., they will have no documents that you ever worked there.”
My fellow expat acquaintance was absolutely right on his comments. I never mentioned the high school I have been “employed” (or “placed in” like the contract with the agent said) in my resume. Because after all the job positions I have hold in Europe, including teaching professional procurement in international Universities, the Chinese agents didn’t give me any change to contract legally a local high school in a remote town in a 4th category city in Jiangsu province, simply because Jiangsu province has this “dura lex” that no legal certificate for teaching English should be obtained by “non-native”. And the agency just get another certificate for me – due to my “management consultant’s” experience and pretended that they placed me in their company, which really hold the name of an university in it but also a small “Ltd.” at the end. The fact that the fellow expat did not know these tricks of job agents does not make the story more at my favor. He is right but I was to overcome the bad luck that was pouring on my head since I came to China with “absolutely legal Z visa”. So I put the only available by contract wording “management consultant” and “at XXX University Ltd.” at the LinkedIn profile but … was teaching some strange oral English in a remote country school.
Professionally it was a “face-job” – they didn’t provide me any system or course-book for teaching, were a little frustrated when I commented that children are mix-abilities’ skills and need more work, but mainly the local school management and the job agent aim was not students’ welfare to learn English but to obtain most of the subsidy provided for the “foreign teacher”. This “XXX University Ltd.” company was in fact obtaining each month around RMB 14 000 from the school and paid me as a salary …. RMB 4 000. This is not to be written in the LinkedIn profile, is it?
At the end of the contract I informed them that I want the relevant documents for completion of my contract – one year contract in order to find another job. They denied me the documents, and after nervous talks with them in which they called me even some names, I was consulting the police what are legal requirements for working in China and my right. Anyhow I just get some Chinese-language papers for contract completion, but never was given the booklet of my “Foreign Management Consultant Expert” Certificate because ….
… Because 7 month later was contacted by the school to teach again there because the foreign teacher after me was not good (in fact the man holds all teaching qualifications but the job agents were not able to obtain Z visa for him and his M visa was expiring the next month). They remind me that the company holds my certificate; it was never cancelled (as they told me some months before) and will be very easy to relocate me again on …. fake “management consultant” certificate. What a flexible term is this strict Chinese law! That foreigner should obey. It will be great to continue my LinkedIn profile in this fake way due to Chinese laws and their implementation isn’t it?
Shall I mentioned that for 10 months the “assisting Chinese specialists” never made me address registration or rental contract for the place I was living which was not in the school campus? Why this was not made? Because the whole residence of mine was illegal due to impossibility to obtain me real Teaching certificate due to local provincial laws but …. At least I was bringing them more than RMB 10 000 each month which make them tricky enough for my documents and to continue to take this money. 10 000 x 10 is equal to RMB 100 000. I was their RED PACKET anyway. Shall I mention this in my resume in LinkedIn? Will it give credentials anyhow? Now another illegible teacher is there in the same school. Another RED PACKAGE for the clever Chinese head-hunters due to strict Chinese laws.
Next year the head-hunters will search for other good LinkedIn profiles and invite them in China for the perspective career of English teachers. That will provide them with a lot of money. LinkedIn is still not banned in China and is major network for detecting and recruiting foreign experts in China.
“I also know some of your problems are not because of you, but because of the laws here in China. You had a lot of bad luck”
The fellow expat is half right here, it seems I had really a lot of bad luck. China welcomed me with its big culture, strange food and habits, strict laws and flexible head-hunters. I have gained really precious experience, have been regularly consulting police for all my visa and residence matters and recently have opened my own business in the country. Totally legal business is it this time. However the fellow expat was not right the laws of China are problem for me. The country has laws like any other country and they should be obeyed. If only I knew I was not eligible to teach English, I would never come. Simply some Chinese people are very tricky and motivated to breach their own laws in getting more money. Producing fake documents, giving bribes to officials or signing false contracts is typical Chinese practice all over the country.
It could be arrogant and boring to some people but consult regularly your real Chinese friends, experienced fellows, lawyers or even police from time to time, when you see some strange practices in China. Hopefully many Chinese people helped me to get out of this legal mess I told you above. The expat whose letter I am citing denied to do it, but was at least sincere to tell this. Now I try to help the teacher after me to turn his stay in China into a legal one. So China is a normal country with its laws. Just be aware of Chinese head-hunting money trick? Chinese laws could change, so hope situation in future will improve for foreigners’ and expats in Chine and our professional LinkedIn profiles would not be dubious ones after we came to China.
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.
Your blog was very painful to read. It's basically a ramble with many grammatical and structural mistakes. I had to read it over a few times to comprehend what you were trying to day. I can only say that with English like yours you are giving real English expat teachers a bad name.
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