By now, you've probably heard of the "100-Day Campaign," announced yesterday across China by the PSB. Essentially, it's a quest to root out "illegal foreigners," meaning people who have either overstayed their visas or are working without a work permit.
Expats are talking about it in hushed whispers, like a city-wide game of telephone full of urban visa legends. Before you panic and run for the border, here's an overview of what we know.
This campaign is scheduled to run from now until August, although it is likely that it will happen in waves. If you lived in Beijing before the Olympics, you're probably familiar with what "crackdown" means in China terms. While it may sound scary, it essentially just means that the police are going to be checking documents on a wider scale rather than their typical sporadic enforcement.
So, what documents are they looking for? They'll want to see your passport, current visa and police registration form. It is possible that the police will come to your home to check, or you may be asked on the street by police to provide these documents. Technically, you are meant to carry your passport and police registration with you at all times, so if you don't do so already, it's important that you start.
The police have announced that they will focus their efforts on areas with a large concentration of foreigners, namely Sanlitun and Haidian. If you live in these areas or plan or going out in these areas, expect that you will likely be stopped at some point and asked to provide documents.
If you are not currently registered with the police, this article explains step-by-step how to do so. The article is a few years old, but as far as we know the regulations are the same. If you don't speak Chinese, or are worried about misunderstanding, it's a good idea to bring a Chinese person with you to the PSB, ideally your landlord. Just know that if you go to register after having been in China for a while, you run the risk of being fined.
While visa crackdowns are not altogether uncommon in China, they usually coincide with a major event rather than being so seemingly random. The current one is likely the result of a British tourist's assault on a Chinese woman that was posted to Youku (warning: graphic) last week. The online backlash has been pretty severe, you can read a sampling of it on China Smack.
We'll keep you updated as we learn more. If you have specific questions please leave them in the comments below and we'll do our best to answer them.