China: Country and Foreign Investment
Entry and Residence
Almost invariably, visas must be obtained before arriving in the country; they can be for single entry or multiple entry. The most common types of visa are as follows:
- F Visa: for short-term business visits (but in practice this type of visa has been used by many longer-stay residents due to the ease of issue and relatively laid-back attitude of the authorities, at least until the Beijing Olympics led to some tightening-up);
- L Visa: for short-term personal visits;
- X Visa: for students with courses longer then six months;
- Z Visa: for people taking up employment, and their family members;
- D Visa: for long-term foreign residents.
Although there are concentrations of foreigners in some major cities, notably of course Beijing and Shanghai, which has 300,000 expats, where you can expect to find a parallel 'Western' life-style and facilities, in most parts of China that is not the case. Few people will speak English, you will have no choice but to adopt Chinese eating and cooking habits, and you won't get very far without at least an elementary knowledge of Chinese. Of course, if you are employed at a facility operated by a Western company, even in a remote region, you may well find a nucleus of other foreigners and Westernized facilities which may dull the shock of a transition to China. Some people, however, may prefer to take on the change in a full frontal way!
'Face' is the key to understanding how to behave socially in China. In countless ways, it is necessary to be sensitive to the nuances of social and family position, in terms of conducting a conversation, your bodily behaviour, and in such matters as paying for things. Chinese people are not rich, with rare exceptions (more and more of these, of course), and Chinese salaries are still so low by Westerrn standards that it may seem impossible for people to live on them. But they manage, and by some miracle will turn themselves out impeccably for social occasions. Don't be fooled: unless you are sure of the financial position of the people you are with, you should assume that you are the richest person present, and therefore expected to pay the bill, although other members of the party may make a show of offering to pay. Females, by the way, never, ever pay in China, unless they are in a hen party.