China's Foreign Employees Scrutinized As Two Cases Of International Teachers Discovered With Criminal Past [PHOTO]

 

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A transatlantic manhunt for Neil Robinson, a native of Britain living in China, concluded in his arrest last Friday when authorities discovered him in Beijing and found him to be overstaying his visa.

Robinson's infractions are much more serious than that, however. A posting on the BBC's Crimewatch Wanted List listed 46-year-old Robinson as "wanted in connection with the distribution of indecent images of children and the rape of a child."

He was in China working as a teacher at an international school, the Beijing World Youth Academy, a grade 4-12 institution geared toward the children of Beijing-based expatriates. According to the South China Morning Post, Robinson taught at that school for four years without anyone knowing he was wanted by British police, until his sudden resignation last school year. 

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In another case, an unnamed 63-year-old American who was convicted of child pornography offenses in Illinois was found to have worked as an English teacher in Nanjing at various schools from 2007 to earlier this year.

The reported and confirmed crimes of both men have stirred up paranoia among the community in China, who are left to wonder how the backgrounds of employees working at schools were not looked into without more consideration.  

The China Daily reported that there has been a call for greater employee scrutiny, particular for expats who are rumored to be able to get jobs with little qua,qualifications. 

"We should be on guard and use the recent negative case [sic] to scare off those who want to come to our country with bad motives," Xia Bing, the director of the Department of Cultural and Educational Experts under the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, said in the China Daily. 

"Police departments in their home countries should offers such proof [that they have no criminal record] but we cannot make their governments provide it. We can only see to it that foreigners fill in a form stating their criminal history before they enter China," he added. 

Michael Thai, who has taught at a language-training school in Beijing, says that he was never asked for documents proving he did not have a criminal record. 

"All they asked for was my résumé… and in some cases, employers even don't ask for a résumé as long as you look like a Westerner and speak English," Thai told the South China Morning Post. "Most foreign teachers in Beijing I know don't expect a background check."

Still, getting a job at Beijing's more prestigious -- and expensive -- schools as a teacher is not as relaxed as some of the language-focused training schools. 

The Beijing World Youth Academy, the institution in which Robinson taught, does insist that applicants must have a bachelor's degree with an accredited teacher certification, successful full-time teaching experience and two references, among other things. The website, however, did not explicitly state background checks or criminal records were required. 

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