A Travellerspoint blog

Extending a Chinese Tourist Visa

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This past weekend I discovered that my tourist visa was only for 30 days. Our stay in Shanghai will be 35 days, which means I have to apply for an extension. I went online and combed through the guide books for instructions on how to accomplish this task and found little information on the subject.

Passportsandvisas.com was perhaps the most helpful in terms of addressing Frequently Asked Questions...

After the fact I found the Lonely Planet forums to be a good place to look for a wide range of visa scenarios.

While the visa extension process reportedly varies from place to place, the procedure below is based on my experience in Shanghai (July 2007).

Where to go...
The Public Security Bureau (PSB) handles visa, passport and other registration issues. The Shanghai PSB is in Pudong, very close to the Science and Technology Museum which conveniently has a Metro stop along Line 2.

When to go...

Early. The PSB is open from 9:00 – 17:00, but most workers take a lunch between 11:30 and 13:30. I arrived at 11:00 and had to wait for over an hour – this turned out to be a good thing, because I needed to get a passport photo, fill out the visa form and make copies of my paperwork.

What to take...
1) Valid Passport and Visa
2) Original and copy of the certificate of check-in in Shanghai (this could be from your hotel or the police substation for the area in which you are staying)
3) Passport photo (available on the 1st floor of the PSB building)
4) Travel itinerary showing when you plan to leave China

What to do when you arrive...
Visa applications are handled on the third floor. On the first floor you can get a sheet of six (6) passport photos for $30 RMB. There are copy stations on each floor. One photo copy was $1 RMB. All signs inside the building are in English and Chinese, so it is not difficult to find your way around.

1) Take a Number
At the top of the escalator to the third floor is an attendant who will hand you a printed ticket showing your number in the queue.

2) Get an information sheet for your visa type
To the right of the ascending escalator is a counter with informational sheets describing the application process for each visa type. The sheets are printed in Chinese on the front and English on the back. (see below)


3) Fill out a Visa and Residence Permit Application Form
To the left of the ascending escalator is a waiting area and a counter to fill out forms. Fill in as much information as you can on the front. Sign, date and fill in your phone number on the back. For a visa extension, I did not have to complete items 6 through 10 on the back side of the form (see blank form below).


4) Attach your passport photo to the form

Glue is provided at the form counter to affix your passport picture to the visa form.

5) Wait
Keep an eye on the reader boards above the waiting area that show which desk to go to when it is your turn. If you miss your turn, you have to start at the end of the queue. Double check that you have filled out the form correctly.

6) It’s your turn...

Give your paperwork to the attendant. Assuming everything is in order, he/she will take your passport and paperwork and give you a receipt. The processing time for my visa extension was one (1) week. For more money I probably could have had it expedited.

7) Pick up your passport
Return to the PSB, take a number and pick up your passport (I haven’t done this part yet). My receipt indicates that I will have to pay $160 RMB for the extension.

Other Notes
Don’t let your visa expire. It is much more difficult to get a new visa than to get an extension of an existing one. There are usually fees involved for those who over-stay their visa.

Many suggest avoiding large cities, like Shanghai or Beijing, and small cities when dealing with the PSB. Mid sized cities tend to be much for friendly and helpful.

Another common warning is to not apply for an extension until the end of your current visa. Your extension begins from the date of application. Any remaining days on your original visa are lost. see lonely planet forum thread

For students, here is the Visa Instructions sheet...

Posted by towangle 21:47 Archived in China Comments (0)

Hangzhou Trip

Tea Farm, Pagodas, lake walks and more

sunny 37 °C

I've just arrived at school for my second to last day of class! I can't believe how quickly time has gone by and I will miss my walks in the park. My recent favorite phenomenon is the systematic power washing of trees there and on campus. I'm not sure if there's more to this or if it just create jobs, but it sure stirs up a lot of dirt. We've been lucky to be here during a bit of a rainy season. Generally it is very hot and humid, but about once a week we get great thunder and rain storms. They bless us by cooling it down a little and dragging some of the moisture out of the air for a half day or so. It also agitates the cicadas into a lovely crescendo which I never get tired of listening to. Though they seem ever present, I still have yet to see a live one. One of our professors referred to this time of year as "Yellow Plum" season because all of the rain ripens the plums to a beautiful color and taste. She warned us this is only recognized in this small, coastal region, where the north and south winds meet the ocean breezes.

We were all able to get away this weekend for three days on a field trip to Hangzhou ("han - jo"), where the beautiful West Lake is located. This is where President Nixon met Mao Zedong in 1972 in a monumental trip which began the first bilateral discussions of friendship and cooperation between modern China and the U.S. At least President Clinton has also since visited Hangzhou since. Perhaps a Chinese retreat or Camp David of sorts.


On Friday we visited a tea farm and ate some fresh green tea.


The Chinese “eat a cup of tea” because they do not filter it and you end up eating a lot of leaves.


While that might sound bitter, the tea we tasted was head and shoulders above any green tea I had ever tasted and chewing the leaves was pleasant. Of course then they offered to sell us teas- including different levels of quality. The highest was the Emperor's Tea, the next highest (the one that we tasted) was Daughter tea. The third quality was called Daughter-in-Law and the lowest quality was called Mother-in-Law. Joe and I agreed the lower qualities were poorly named, but nonetheless we did not buy any in-law tea.

There were also a lot of temples and pagodas to be seen Saturday. And there were mountains and clear skies! We weren't sure they really existed after spending all this time where it is so flat it seems like you could see forever if it weren't for the smog.


The clear skies made way for a strong sun and incredible heat - the lows were about 35 degrees celcius (95 F) for all three days. Saturday night, about fourteen of us went out for tremendous Indian food (a buffet with a mango focus), followed by a river walk to where else but Haagen Dazs and Starbucks.


Sunday, after visiting the "elevator pagoda" (which had been rebuilt in the past several years so you did not have to walk to the top), we got back in the bus to come home. It was about a 3 hour bus ride, but the savvier Shanghainese take the hour and a half train to get to and from the city. It really did feel like a rest from the bustle, so it was ironic to discover that Hangzhou itself is home to 6 1/2 million people.

Many more pictures from our Hangzhou trip are posted in web albums.

All Albums

Individual Hangzhou albums
People and Places
Tea Farm
Leifang Pagoda
Liuhe Pagoda
Lingyin Temple

Posted by stacyacy 17:59 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Jade Buddha Temple

rain 21 °C
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Yesterday we played tourist at the Jade Buddha Temple. Jade is a popular carving medium in China. There is a whole section dedicated to jade in the Shanghai Museum. The actual temple with its yellow walls and pagoda style eaves is encroached on all sides by modern buildings and streets.

Inside the temple is a courtyard with a shrine housing several large Buddha statues. The structure surrounding the courtyard contained several smaller Buddha figures as well as tourist shops and a vegetarian restaurant.


Despite a steady rain and flocks of tourists we saw several people take time to pray in the courtyard and inside the temple. Outside worshipers lit bundles of incense and proceeded to bow in the four directions of the compass. Inside, pads on the floor allowed the devout to kneel and pray to Buddha.


Small red globes were draped across the courtyard and underneath the awnings over walkways.


At one point I was invited up to the second floor of the gift shop where a nice Chinese man made a carefully scripted sales pitch for some incredibly beautiful (not to mention expensive) items carved from wood and jade. Though I didn’t see a price tag, one of the most spectacular pieces was a monastic scene carved out of a mahogany stump depicting at least 18 different Buddhist monks doing daily activities. Additionally there were animals, buildings, and even a dragon or two. Supposedly it took two monks three years to carve scene. Unfortunately they did not allow pictures in the gift shop.

In one of the side galleries next to a reclining Buddha was a booth selling Chinese Paper Cuts.

Not to be confused with the dreaded office war wound, Chinese paper cuts are elaborate images cut from a single piece of tissue paper. In the picture above, the red image on the left depicts the Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai. An image like that may take one to two days to create.

Stacy and I visited the temple with several of her classmates. We finished off our tour with a meal at the vegetarian restaurant. The university cafeteria has a buffet meal three times a day for the law students, but after a while the same sweet, oil heavy, Chinese dishes start to wear on the palate. We enjoyed a wonderful meal that included herb encrusted cashews, a ramen noodle soup with imitation pork, taro (a root vegetable) with broccoli and cheese sauce, sweet and sour tofu, and a few others.

After our meal we were talked into a picture in the court yard.


You can read more about the Jade Buddha Temple on Wikipedia.

Posted by towangle 14:55 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

One Child Policy

What to do with a growing unregistered population?

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On Tuesday Stacy suggested I might enjoy attending her class. The topic was family law in China, taught by Professor Warren Binford http://www.willamette.edu/wucl/faculty/binford.htm
from Willamette University. Stacy promised it would be interesting and I was not disappointed.

Over the years I have picked up bits and pieces about China’s One Child Policy (OCP), but until this week really didn't know much about it. While there are still many unknowns, Professor Binfords classes opened a window into Chinese society.

First promulgated around 1980, the goal of the OCP was to achieve zero population growth by the year 2000 and government statistics declare it a success. The policy stemmed the traditionally high birth rates (5.81 births/woman in 1970) encouraged in the 1960’s and 70’s by Mao Zedong, and brought China to near zero population growth.

While addressing overpopulation was viewed by many as a positive step for China, the country has been criticized for how the OCP has been and continues to be implemented. Local governments are responsibile for ensuring compliance with the OCP. The result has been inconsistent enforcement and abusive tactics due to national pressure on local officials.

To understand the means of enforcement as well as consequences of the OCP, it is important to grasp the nature of China’s registration system. As a Chinese citizen you are required to register at birth, marriage and death. A person must be registered to attend school, receive social welfare benefits, get married, attain legal employment, and to have a child. Registration also costs money, frequently more than many rural families can afford.

Registered married couples in cities are allowed one child. Rural and minority families may have two if the first is a girl. There are a few exceptions to these rules, but the permits cost money. In one province a person who qualifies to have second child must pay $500 for the permit. This is half the average annual income in China and 10 times the average annual income in rural areas.

For families desiring multiple children and for those that cannot afford the registration process or permits, the only option is to have a child “out of plan.” Violations of the OCP are punished harshly. The offending couple are usually strongly “encouraged” to have the pregnancy aborted. Methods of encouragement may include disqualification of social welfare benefits, administrative demotion, deprivation of farmland, withholding of family food rations, beatings, forced late-term abortions, and forced sterilization. One village razed the homes of six pregnant women with out of plan children and forbade local residents from sheltering the now homeless women.

While such treatment is egregious, perhaps more devastating in the long term repercussions for children born out of plan. Such children are ineligible to register with the government. This is the equivalent in the U.S. of being denied the ability to ever have a birth certificate or social security number. Out of plan child are disqualified from all state subsidized services including education and health care. In the eyes of the government, they do not exist.

But the unregistered do exist and in large numbers. Studies suggest that well over half the rural population of China is unregistered. A statistical analysis indicated a 40% error for a census conducted in a rural province due to the exclusion of the unregistered. It is unknown how many of the unregistered are children, but some estimates are in the 100’s of millions.

While the Chinese government has acknowledged that there are problems with the policy, there is little indication that there will be a significant shift in tactics any time soon. One problem is that the country’s weak social welfare system is struggling just to support its registered population, let alone handle the millions of unregistered. Additionally, the frenetic growth in the last 20+ years has only been possible with China’s abundant supply of cheap labor.

Since the late 1970’s the Chinese economy has been shifting away from state run work units responsible for providing employment, housing, food and health care for its workers, to a market driven economy that allows an increasing number of private enterprises who are only responsible for providing employment. Given the pace of the shift, the transition has been remarkably smooth, though not without cost. To avoid punishment by the government millions of unregistered workers must settle for low paying and often dangerous jobs. Shanghai is nearly finished constructing the world’s tallest building. The 24/7 construction schedules for this and other projects often rely on the cheap labor available from unregistered workers who have illegally migrated to Shanghai so they can eek out $1/day working 12 hours a day 7 days a week.

The unregistered population issue in China has more than a few parallels with the United States’ struggle to address illegal immigration. In the political sphere, there are those who argue that the unregistered/illegal immigrants should be given an opportunity to be full members of society. Since the vast majority of non-citizens are hard working and would chose to be lawful participants in society, why not give them that opportunity. Others maintain that non-citizens chose to disobey establish rules and should not be rewarded for doing so.

A significant difference between China’s and U.S.’s scenarios is that children born in the U.S. have a right to a birth certificate, whereas out of plan children in China are forever relegated to the status of unregistered. As such they are more susceptible to trafficking and enslavement for work and/or more licentious purposes.

This Washington Post article is a good follow-up read if you are interested.

In response to some foreign critics, China has published an interview discussing its general strategy for population control. http://www.china.org.cn/english/2002/Oct/46138.htm

Wikipedia provides a fairly comprehensive overview as well.

Posted by towangle 21:10 Archived in China Comments (0)

Chinese Pottery

Shanghai Museum

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The Shanghai Museum is a wonderful archive of art and culture with items dating back to 6000 BC and perhaps earlier.


I found the pottery exhibit especially interesting given the many parallels with dad's work.

China potters are proud that in English we call fine porcelain china. Doing so is a recognition of the impressive abilities of ancient potters in this part of the world. The Shanghai Museum has many examples of fine porcelain, as well as other types of pottery created in the different regions of this vast country.

When I was young, dad experimented with the blending of different colored clays that when rolled together formed agate like patterns. Mom would do the same when making beads out of femo. Rolled out snakes of different colors would be combined a larger roll. The roll would then be sliced like a refrigerator cookie and applied to a pot or bead.

The Chinese used a similar method to create ceramic pots that resembled carved wood. The example below is about the size of a small sugar bowl. What appears to be wood grains are actually thin layers of brown and tan colored clays.


I always assumed celadon only referred to the light green color dad uses on some of his pots, but it applies to a range of pale greens and yellows as seen in the picture below.


Ge Ware is characterized by crazing (glaze cracking). The jinsitienxian (gold thread, iron wire) style of Ge Ware has wider black cracks and thinner yellow cracks.


The oil drop glaze is very similar to a black glaze dad refers to as Ten-moku. If I recall correctly, the key ingredient for dad’s Ten-moku glaze was obsidian. I wonder if the Chinese had a similar methodology.


One of the most difficult high fire glazes to achieve is the copper red. In China they call it Jiangdouhong, which literally means “cow-pea red”. Here are a few examples of some reds made during the Qing dynasty.


Similar reds can be found earlier during the Ming dynasty, though these have a slight pinkish hue to them.



Equally striking was this yellow glaze, also from the Ming dynasty.


Towards the end of the exhibit there was a blue platter that reminded me a lot of the dark blue glaze dad uses for many of his pots. If you look closely you can make out the intricate designs, including a ferocious dragon.


Finally there were a few unusual pieces of note. These four vases melded together are odd in shape though the blue and white glaze is typical of china porcelain.


In addition to utilitarian pieces some interesting figures. This old man smoking a pipe caught my attention.


The entire exhibit was a treasure trove following the history of pottery in china through the ages. For an album view of these and other pictures check out the link below.


Posted by towangle 21:13 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (1)

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