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Radio Free Asia

Shanghai Starts Collecting Details of Visitors, Temporary Residents in City

2021-04-02 -- Authorities in Shanghai have begun collecting mandatory personal details from anyone entering the city for longer than 24 hours, with fines for those who fail to comply, RFA has learned.

Order No. 43 from the Shanghai municipal government, which took effect on April 1, requires government departments, police, residential, education and other authorities to collect information on anyone remaining in the city for longer than 24 hours.

"People who come to Shanghai should present their identity documents, residence certificates or other relevant certificates," the directive says.

They can also make use of a one-stop government web portal to enter their details.

"Persons coming to Shanghai who live in this city should apply for residence registration," it said.

Those who meet the relevant requirements of the state and this city may apply for the Shanghai Residence Permit after six months from the date of their registration.

Employers, real estate and leasing agents, recruitment agencies, markets and supermarkets should all provide facilities enabling people to register, it said.

Hotels, inns, guest houses, apartment-style hotels and accommodation providers must also comply with the new rules, preferably via the government's one-stop web portal.

Fines of up to 5,000 yuan

The Shanghai Residence Permit entitles the user to "enjoy basic public services" in the city, the notice said.

"Those who come to Shanghai without a residence permit or whose residence permit has expired shall be urged to handle the matter in a timely manner according to the law," it said.

The rules apply to people staying in the city for any purpose, including tourism, medical treatment and education.

Only day-trippers are exempt, state news agency Xinhua reported.

Individuals and organizations who fail to comply will be liable to fines of up to 5,000 yuan (US$ 760), it said.

Kim Sun, a South Korean businesswoman based in the city, said the new rules had caught people off guard.

"Our company received a notice yesterday saying that it could get fined up to 5,000 yuan if someone comes to visit and fails to register in accordance with the new rules," Jin said.

"It's awful. It's like they are turning [Shanghai] into Xinjiang," she said in a reference to the blanket surveillance technology used by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to keep tabs of civilians in that region.

"It seems as if it's only Shanghai that is doing this; not even Beijing has implemented it," she said.

'A perfect panopticon prison'

The topic was trending on the Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo on Thursday, with around 160 million views and countless comments.

"It seems that Shanghai is moving back in time," user @jiweidu commented on one post. "But real-name registration is already required to rent accommodation, and your data is already submitted instantly to the relevant government portal."

"Social management is now networked, and there are regulations in many places," the user wrote.

User @jiangzhenxiang wrote: "It's going to mean a lot more work for communities and employers ... but personally I don't think it's much more than that."

"Shanghai is turning into a perfect panopticon prison ... I think the place is getting less and less rather than more and more creative, though," another comment said.

Kim said the move has generated plenty of anger in the city.

"Even some of my lawyer friends who are very [pro-government] were questioning this and saying they couldn't understand it," she said. "I think this time Shanghai has gone a bit far, as far as outsiders are concerned."

A legal professional who gave only the surname Xu said he and his colleagues had been shocked by the move.

"We were really shocked by this, that they should regard such controls on people's movement as inevitable," Xu said. "They are taking every opportunity to perfect their control over the movement of people."

"They are going to know everything about people's movements," he said.

"Another aspect to this is that it's probably being trialed in Shanghai, before being expanded to Beijing, Guangzhou, and other major cities," Xu said.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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