China is Going to Start Fingerprinting Foreign Visitors Entering the Country

China is set to start collecting the fingerprints of millions of foreigners who visit the country beginning at the Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport in Guangdong Province on Friday.

After the trial stage in Shenzhen, the city in southern China that borders Hong Kong, the new system will be introduced across the country by the end of 2017, China’s Ministry of Public Security said.

Travelers aged between 14 and 70 will be required to leave their fingerprints before being permitted to enter China, according to Shanghaiist.

Those outside of that age range, as well as people with diplomatic passports and visas, will be exempt from the procedure.

Storing biological identification information of people entering and leaving borders is an important border control measure, and many countries have started to implement the regulation,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that the border control authority would improve efficiency after the new system takes effect, so that it doesn’t cause delays.

Other countries that have already implemented biometric screening for foreigners include the United States, Britain, France, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

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

Following the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, the U.S. began collecting electronic fingerprints from foreign nationals in 2004, according to the South China Morning Post.

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

The U.S. gathers information only from travelers aged between 14 and 79, and also exempts people using diplomatic and official visas or with medical emergencies.

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