Petaling Jaya (The Nation/ANN) - The recent crackdown on illegal foreign residents in Beijing has raised concerns among many foreigners working in the city.
Malaysians were actively discussing the consequences of the crackdown and their mobility around the Chinese capital.
The city police announced that from May 15 onwards, they would conduct frequent checks on foreigners overstaying or violating the provisions of their visas. The operation will be on until the end of August.
A Malaysian, known as LYY on a close-group online community forum, said his company posted an alert on travelling around the city for its foreign employees recently.
Apparently, the authorities will carry out visa checks, especially at locations popular with foreigners such as the Sanlitun nightspot and around university campuses.
If one fails to provide proof of identity or any valid residence permit or visa, or abide by the relevant regulations, he is subjected to a fine, detention or repatriation.
Violators will also be blacklisted for future visa application.
"Personnel should obtain a proper China visa at all times. Business travellers are reminded to carry their passport with them at all times and should exercise caution to prevent theft.
"Copies of a passport, driver's licence or residential compound residence card will not be accepted," the alert advisory said.
"I am wondering if they can distinguish us, Malaysian Chinese, from the locals in the street, unless they checked on the Chinese, too," LYY said.
Another Malaysian advised fellow countrymen to carry their passport if they were planning to drive to the nearby Tianjin city and Yanjiao near the Beijing and Hebei province border.
"The police may set up roadblocks at the highway toll plaza entering Beijing and check your travelling documents," he said.
"During the Olympic Games (in 2008), I heard from my co-workers that local police officers visited their place of residence to check whether they were really staying there."
Another Malaysian, only known as Soo, said: "Malaysians in this forum network are good people. We have relevant documents, so we need not fear."
On Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said there was no "anti-foreigner trend" in China.
"The Chinese government welcomes foreigners from all walks of life to come to China and will offer various conveniences for living and working here and protect their legitimate rights and interests," Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.
However, he warned foreigners that they needed to abide by Chinese laws and regulations and respect their culture and customs.
He said the crackdown had not changed Beijing's friendly attitude towards foreigners.
The campaign was part of the city police's efforts to combat foreign-related crime, as they found that most such offences were committed by foreigners without legal status, Hong Lei added.
The crackdown came after a video clip went viral on the Internet that showed a British national allegedly sexually assaulting a Chinese woman on the side of a road in downtown Beijing on May 8.
In another incident, a Russian cellist insulted a female passenger on a train and this sparked online furore among Chinese netizens who claimed that such foreigners showed blatant disrespect for Chinese laws and citizens.
Gao Zhuhao, who works at the Beijing Centre for Chinese Studies, told China Daily that the Chinese authorities and citizens should treat foreigners as equals, neither vilifying them because of their offences or defying their good deeds.
Language student Ryan Geulke, from the United States, said the crackdown had little impact on his life.
"I view the campaign as a way for the government to regulate illegal residents, and as long as one is here legally and abides by the laws, there is nothing to worry about," he said.