China to begin finger printing foreigners on arrival

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Starting Friday, February 10, foreigners entering China through Shenzhen's Bao'an International Airport will be required to leave their fingerprints as part of new border security measures.

Travelers with diplomatic passports and visas are exempt from providing their fingerprints.

The regulation will be introduced at Shenzhen airport in the south from today, and will be gradually rolled out at other entry points around the country, the ministry said in a statement.

"To collect the biometric information is an important measure to enhance border control that has been adopted by several countries", said the ministry (link in Chinese).

China's exit-entry departments will strive to improve the efficiency of entry clearance, it said.

Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the USA began collecting electronic fingerprints from foreigner nationals in 2004, according to the South China Morning Post. The Ministry didn't reveal whether they will be collected other forms of biometric data.

Collecting and storing the fingerprints of arriving foreigners is already an global practice in many other countries, including the United States and Japan. "Authorities will ensure that the new system is efficient and does not result in unnecessary delays", MPS said.

In 2005, it was required that all 10 fingerprints be submitted instead of only two when foreigners apply for US visas at consulates.

Fingerprinting visiting foreigners at the border is often used as a way to counter terrorism.