Who knew we would live in a world where we would see individuals getting arrested for teaching English. Gone are the days when only thugs and drug dealers were classified real criminals. Today if you are an English teacher you might just be a criminal.

WeChat Official Accounts: ExpatRights

China has enough scammers as per foreigner, it has become a known custom to “cheat the foreigner”. The streets are plastered with evidence of this, even while a foreigner shop. Employers of English training centers and Employment agencies for these centers are notorious for scamming foreigners. In fact, they are one of China’s greatest scammers as many of them are often not penalized when the employee reports them to the relevant authorities.

It is true that many foreigners ‘Will’ themselves to China for work and in so doing choose to enter the country on the wrong visa putting themselves in jeopardy, but it is equally true that many are seduced by Chinese employers and employment agencies, this is the group I wish to address in this article.

It has however been the trend over the years for many of these foreigners to enter China only to be a part of a human trafficking scheme. Mass numbers of foreigners are being lured here each day by these Employers and Employee recruitment agencies, over an oral contract promising attractive employee packages. Many of these foreigners leave their countries under the guise of a well-paid English teaching job sometimes accompanying a single bedroom accommodation, an air ticket that the foreigner is to purchase but will be reimbursed by the company after one year’s contract, and a legal work visa and work permit valid for one year.

Upon arrival, however, foreigners find nothing that was promised to them was received, others find that only a part of what was promised was actually received and a few are lucky to have received everything promised but are then expected to complete additional tasks outside of their written job description. After being placed in such a position, a foreigner can only but do three things; remain working for this employer if he so chooses, return home if he has the finances, or find another job providing he meets the work visa requirements. Some employers knowing this and also knowing the government requirements for a work visa, advertises their job post anyway, highlighting that the job is open to everyone, whether they meet the work visa requirements or not, an ad perfect for a foreigner who wishes to remain in the country but does not meet the visa requirements or one who does not have the money nor the will to return home.

In addition, private English centers, often the smaller ones whose primary aim is to make a profit whether it’s at the cost of the student or the teacher, will specify on such an ad, details of the foreigner that will surely make him the most profit; their skin tone, their accent, their size, their country of origin. After attracting the best money-making foreigner, will find a way for this foreigner to remain in the country; often times it involves the incorrect visa for this foreigner if he/she does not meet the work visa requirements. In addition, some employers intending to keep cost low, will higher Africans without a degree, a degree is one of the government’s work visa requirements, but an African without a degree to the company means low salaries and a business visa which he funds himself.

From recent news updates, foreigners are being arrested more now than before, many of these news updates zoom in to the life of a foreigner who has been a victim of this unfortunate event. Some of them spend nights in the Chinese prison, not being able to contact their families and labelled criminals until their name is cleared. But who is to be blamed for this Chinese nightmare? The naïve foreigner? the employer who plots to cheat the foreigner or the authorities for not penalizing these scamming employers and employment agencies harsh enough.

Each arrest case is different, but regardless, as more and more foreigners come to China in hopes of a better work opportunity, the reality is, we still find foreigners being arrested for teaching English. Has teaching English become one of China’s high-end crimes? Officers commonly unexpectantly visit English training centers, they check the passport of foreigners, and round up all the illegally working teachers from these centers. Scam victims are also a part of this round up unfortunately.

As big a problem as, illegal English teachers so too are the existence of these scamming employers and employment agencies. They take advantage of the intent of government, to welcome foreigners into the China, for the sake of work. Their actions are only to profit their own self gain. In the process foreigners are arrested, charged and sent home having with a criminal record they before never had, a criminal record they acquired for “teaching English”.

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