In spite of the quarantine and the coronavirus, the Ukrainians in China end up behind bars due to working illegally.

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The Chinese authorities have strengthened controls over illegal employees and those who help them get employed.

They are threatened by harsh punishments – from multi-thousand RMB fines and up to real prison terms.

In recent years, Ukrainians come to China seeking jobs as English teachers in the kindergartens and schools, as well as models and dancers, for the sake of a 2,000-3,000 dollar salary.

But according to the data of a foreign employment agency representative Igor Slin’ko, around 80% of the “zarobitchane” (migrant workers) in China work illegally, i.e. without a work visa.

A 26-year old graduate, Alexey Dubovik, has already spent more than half a year in the prison in Wenzhou on the southeast of China, 500 km south of Shanghai.

He was accused of illegal employment of Ukrainians in China.

Two years ago Alexey arrived in China to teach English in a kindergarten. At first, like many, he was working illegally, on a tourist visa.

Afterward, he filed for a work visa and then began to charge money to consult and help others find work. Most of those whom he assisted with work in China had actually been working on the tourist visa, – Alexey’s uncle, Ivan Cherevko

Before the borders were closed, his relatives traveled to China, but they weren’t allowed to meet with him.

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the case is stalled, as the investigation is being delayed.

According to his uncle, Dubovik did not know that acting as a middle man to assist job searches in China is illegal from the Chinese legislature’s point of view.

The Ukrainian embassy in PRC stated that the case is under their control.

Manhunts for teachers and dancers

Such cases with the Ukrainians in China are not isolated.

China and the police manhunts have been more frequent during recent times, they can easily stop people on the streets and demand their documents.

Finding a spot as an English teacher in a kindergarten or a school is easy in China, you do not even need to have the ideal command of it, the most important thing is the European appearance, as it is considered very prestigious.

After an online interview, pretty much everyone who can connect two English words together is hired. The same goes for the [female] dancers.

It doesn’t really matter how well you dance, the most important thing – is that it is a “white person” and in a good [physical] form. – Elena Suytnik, a Ukrainian living in Guanzhou.

The Ukrainian embassy in China is also warning about the PRC authorities strengthening controls over the law enforcement related to foreigners’ employment.

“Nowhere to sit, nor to talk”

Dubovik’s fellow Dnepropetrovsk residents, 20-year old Alina Ivanova, and Anzhela Sedletskaya have also gotten in a tight spot, ending up behind the bars and being forced to pay a fine and return home.

The young women spent nearly 7 months in prison.

In Wenzhou, we were arrested for working illegally as dancers.

First, we were held in prison for an administrative violation, and afterward, we were suspected of illegal border crossing and were placed into jail with very severe conditions.

We were not allowed to communicate, there were 16 people per room, at times we were forbidden from standing up, speaking was only allowed for an hour a day and only on the street outside, it was forbidden to keep hands in pockets or to fold them across the chest.

The only food they gave us was rice, the rest must be bought.

Then, there was a trial, which sentenced us to half a year in prison and
a fine of RMB 2000,
and then we were deported — Ivanova (Wenzhou)

Waiting for a new wave to arrive

Lawyers have confirmed that illegal foreigners in China are getting caught and punished more often than before, with the trend beginning even before the coronavirus epidemic.

According to the defense lawyer Dan Harris, 4-5 people a day had contacted his international law firm in 2019 due to fines, imprisonments, and deportations, whereas earlier such requests were at around 2-3 times a month.

According to Harris’ data, foreigners’ visas are getting checked by the police frequently, and foreigners are now getting turned in by the locals, who are being paid for such vigilance.

The experts have predicted a new wave of illegally employed foreigners to be arriving in China soon.

Source: Judy Luk via EnglishTeacher

WeChat Official Account: ExpatRights

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