Well, At Least My J-visa Was Approved!

Li Tianyiby Dave Dubrowski

Dave Dubrowski is a writer and copy editor for the Global Times.

It’s no surprise that professional journalists like me are on edge these days.

What with Bloomberg and New York Times reporters—big love, guys—unsure if they will have their visas renewed, it’s easy to get the jitters when the time comes to rummage through your drawer and fish out that old residency registration form.

So it was with a pounding heart that I handed my documentation to Merry, our delightful HR rep at Global Times, who took my passport, a recent photo and a blank application form to that scary building where the futures of me and my other foreign colleagues are decided by a rubber stamp.

As they say, “Another year, another trip to the Entry-Exit Administration of the Public Security Bureau.”

In fact, I was so worried about how Merry was getting on that I could barely concentrate during my three hours in the office on Monday. I didn’t even finish my rundown of Beijing’s best pizza places that refuse to serve Japanese people.

I mean, if Bloomberg and the Times are on the government hit list, it’s only a matter of time before a firebrand periodical like the Global Times attracts the wrong kind of attention.

It’s only a matter of time before a firebrand periodical like the Global Times attracts the wrong kind of attention.

I’ll never forget how hairy things got back in June when we published that tell-all interview with the woman Li Keqiang saved from a burning car. Or last year when we launched a nationwide investigation into how foreigners defraud China’s healthcare system by deliberately getting murdered by the wives of Chinese politicians.

When you’re a foreigner tasked with spell-checking groundbreaking reportage like that, you can be forgiven for looking over your shoulder when the time comes to renew your right to work in China.

Like other journos, I’ve had my share of visa problems. My first year here, I had to fill out a two-page application and get a stamped letter from my employer. As I only found out about the letter the day before Merry was supposed to submit my application, she had to go into the office super early, but then found the person in charge of the official stamps wasn’t in yet. Talk about a nightmare!

Then, worst of all, when Merry went to the Entry-Exit Bureau, the filing clerk was totally rude to her.

Yes siree, things were tough for scribes like me back in the bad old days. Still, I’ve got my visa now—thank you Merry!—and not a moment too soon. I’m putting the finishing touches on a marathon expose about the government’s amazing improvements to sanitation on the Beijing subway.

I want to reassure the folks at the Times and Bloomberg—don’t worry guys, we at the Global Times will continue to push the envelope and keep the wheels of investigative journalism turning for you, for as long as it takes to resolve your inexplicable visa delays. I’m sure the government is keen to have you back as soon as possible.

Until then, you can rest easy knowing that folks like me are still informing public opinion.

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