By Lincoln Tan
4:00 AM Saturday Jan 16, 2010
International students from China want New Zealand residency and passports not only for ease of travel, but also as a way to get into a good university back home and attract the opposite sex.
To get Kiwi passports, some are even prepared to marry New Zealand citizens who may be total strangers, several students from the Chinese mainland told the Weekend Herald.
China's top university sets higher admission standards for domestic candidates, but enrolment requirements are much lower for foreign students as many universities want more foreigners to foster an international environment on campuses, according to a Chinese news report.
"I don't want a New Zealand passport to stay here. I don't think there is a future for me here," said an 18-year-old language student from Shanghai, who spoke on condition she was not named.
"But when I get a Kiwi passport, it means I would almost certainly get into a good university back in China because of the lower standard for foreigners, and also be able to travel around the world more easily."
Last week, the Global Times in China reported that students there were paying around $40,000 to buy fake foreign passports to gain entry into these universities, but the Education Ministry is now demanding proof from foreign students that they have lived in their purported countries of origin for at least four years.
One 15-year-old Auckland high school student from China, who did not want to be named, said reading the Chinese report online had made him more determined to work towards residency.
"Of course, my first choice will be to get a New Zealand degree, but if I cannot, then at least the passport will give me a second chance to get a degree from a top China university."
Another teenager from China, Amy, 19, who is studying graphic design, said: "Hooking up with a Kiwi partner is still the easiest way to get residency, which is the first step towards getting a New Zealand passport."
A language student, Luke Liu, 18, said becoming a New Zealand resident was also a way for young Chinese males to "attract" Chinese girls.
"Let's face it, Kiwi girls don't fancy Asian guys, and Chinese girls here are spoiled for choice because Kiwi guys want to date them," said Luke. "These girls come from rich families, so money means nothing to them. But being able to offer them the chance of becoming a Kiwi is another thing."
The editor of the Mandarin Pages Chinese newspaper in Auckland, David Soh, says the practice of "marriage for convenience" is not new, nor is it exclusive to the Chinese community. "It also happens with the Russians, the Filipinos ... It is impossible to stop."
The Herald on Sunday reported in 2005 that Mandarin Pages carried an advertisement from a Chinese man with New Zealand residency advertising for a wife. When contacted, the advertiser demanded $10,000 up front, more after one year of marriage and a final $10,000 after two years when the buyer would have permanent residency in New Zealand, and the couple could divorce.
But Mr Soh says such ads no longer appear in his paper, which still carries an average of 10 personal advertisements daily from New Zealanders seeking Chinese wives.
"It would be impossible for us to say how many of these marriages are for immigration purposes."
By Lincoln Tan | Email Lincoln http://www.nzherald.co.nz/chinese-in-nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=147&objectid=10620509