Foreigners coming to China should be scrutinized to find out whether they have sufficient cash funds, a property or a job, said 94.4 percent of voters in a survey on Sina Weibo.
The survey was started by Beijing writer Zheng Yuanjie, often referred to as "King of fairy tales." It did not differentiate between different types of foreign visitors, such as students, tourists or those employed in China.
Over 7,411 Web users had joined in the voting as of print time yesterday evening. The survey opened on Monday, and will last a week, according to Zheng's microblog, although he was unavailable for comment yesterday.
Comments following the survey included one asking why China exported wealthy citizens abroad, but has received bad foreigners. Web user "Commander Chen" wanted to know why Chinese people have to provide property certificates or proof of employment for overseas travel but foreigners do not. Many other comments in the thread exhibited stronger opinions.
Anti-foreign tensions online are running high, following two recent high-profile incidents in which foreigners behaved badly.
Russian cellist Oleg Vedernikov lost his job at the Beijing Symphony Orchestra on Monday following an incident on a train, and the British man, arrested for indecency two weeks ago in Beijing, is still in police detention.
Last week saw the onset of a 100-day campaign targeting the "three illegal foreigners," illegal immigrants, visa overstayers, and those working without an appropriate visa.
Wang Xiaodong, a Beijing scholar, agrees that China should prevent foreigners who cannot support themselves from entering the country.
"The situation has changed, and we will have to make a choice [stopping some illegal foreigners]," Wang said.
"Foreigners have enjoyed superior treatment than Chinese for a long time, and the Chinese public are dissatisfied with this," he remarked.
"We do provide some superior treatment to foreigners in law and management rules, especially in economic terms," Xiang Dang, a professor at Chinese People's Public Security University told host Bai Yansong, during a China Central Television (CCTV) current affairs talk show on Saturday.
Xiang claimed that other nations would often "clear out" illegal aliens when increasing numbers became a problem, including Japan, South Korea, the US and some European countries.
Bai commented that foreigners should be treated equally.
"We should deal with foreigners according to Chinese law, and we should neither look up to, nor down on foreigners. Equality is the biggest respect," he said during the show.
CCTV host Yang Rui also weighed into the debate last week, saying on his microblog: "The police should clean out foreign trash, protecting ignorant young women. Catch foreign hooligans, especially in Wudaokou and Sanlitun."
Yesterday, in a comment in the Global Times, he said that the majority of expats obeyed and respected Chinese culture and society, and he was reacting to online videos he had seen.
Around 600,000 foreigners have resided in China longer than six months, said People's Daily Online on Monday, and there are thought to be around 200,000 living in Beijing. Around 20,000 illegal foreigners were caught in China in 2011, the report said.
"Not all foreigners who legally come to China should face extra conditions," said Qiao Xinsheng, a law professor with Zhongnan University of Economics and Law in Hubei Province, adding that other countries may use tit-for-tat measures on Chinese visitors.
"Opening up means internationalization, and more foreigners coming to China," Qiao said, adding that people should not exhibit nationalistic emotions. But some of the laws do need updating, as they have been in place for a long time, he noted.
American Darren Sarkin, 24, has worked in Beijing for a year, and said that only a minority of foreigners behave badly.
"I feel foreigners are treated the same as Chinese, and I don't think there should be any changes to the visa system," he said.