Police in Beijing recently ran a fake casting call for models in the city, which turned out to be a sting operation to catch foreigners living on illegal visas and led to more than 60 arrests. More than 60 hot, perfectly proportioned arrests.
The Beijinger reports that the faux casting call was held at the M3 agency in Jianwai SOHO, and that 60 people were held in custody while four more were jailed (although there seems to be some confusion about the terms “in custody” and “jailed”). The Beijinger goes on to say:
The models face fines and possible deportation, in line with treatment of other visa policy violators. The reports did not indicate if the detained models were male, female, or both. M3 representatives could not be reached for comment.
Models are required to work on entertainment visas, which are more difficult to obtain than tourist visas. A similar crackdown appears to be going on in Guangzhou.
According to one Malaysian model who spoke to the New York Times, Russia and Ukraine were heavily represented among the mostly European models detained, and nobody knows when they will be released.
An online petition by an industry group, Managers Agents Models Association, calls on the Chinese government to rethink the crackdown:
This situation is a serious blow to the reputation of the International modeling community and to the whole Chinese fashion market.It is a traumatic blow to the concerned family and friends in many countries who have spent days worried about their loved ones.
Our community has promoted China as the “next fashion capital” on a par with New York, Paris, London and Milan.This current situation is seriously undermining that “next fashion capital” reputation.
Unless we can restore the trust and reputation of the Chinese market by securing proper visas and work permits, while monitoring local agencies to ensure the safety of our young models, our united Worldwide community will be unable to support sending models to China.This will be damaging to the Chinese fashion industry, designers, local brands, international brands, local modeling agencies and supporting businesses, such as photographers, hair stylists, makeup artists and creative companies.
In other words, RED ALERT to all of the models living in Shanghai at the moment: if your visa doesn’t check out, probably not a good idea to respond to cold-call castings.