The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ), located in Shanghai, is considering rule changes that will allow foreign nationals to get Chinese permanent residence much faster and easier than is possible at present. This is a major policy shift aimed at attracting foreign investment and global talent into the zone. Last week, Premier Li Keqiang visited the FTZ, which will make its one-year anniversary on September 29, 2014, and addressed the shortcomings of the current Chinese permanent residence process, stating “complicated procedures for green card applications have impeded the FTZ in attracting global talent. The zone can submit a reform plan to the central government with improvement suggestions for the convenient entry and stay of foreign talent, especially those with outstanding competitiveness.” A stark statistic of how difficult it is to get Chinese permanent residence for foreign workers is the number of applications authorities have approved: 5,000 since the program’s inception in 2003 – equating to about 500 per year. The Premier’s support is the clearest indication yet that easier access to Chinese permanent residence will be a reality, particularly as the FTZ is used as a test ground for bold economic and social initiatives that differ from China. Should the FTZ be permitted to reform the rules associated with obtaining Chinese permanent residence, the hope is that the benefits of such reform for the FTZ will lead to adoption of the modified rules throughout China’s provinces. Adoption at a national level will be highly challenging because of the highly bureaucratic nature and conflicts of interest among China’s governmental agencies. In the meantime, employers and foreign workers in the FTZ can realistically look forward to easier access to permanent residence, which will in turn make investment in the zone by companies and relocation to the zone by foreign workers and their families eminently more attractive than it is today.