Why Over 60 Foreign Models Are Under Arrest in Beijing Right Now

Last Thursday, police in Beijing, China arrested more than 60 foreign models for working illegally under fake tourist visas. Most of the models are western, from places like the United States and various European nations, with Russia and the Ukraine highly represented.

According to Fashionista, the Beijing police force set up a fake casting call at a Chinese agency "in order to find models who were working illegally. Those who showed up were taken into custody and had their passports and cell phones confiscated." The Business Model has gleaned from various sources that four models are in jail, while the remaining 60 are being held in custody. Most will likely be deported.

Officials are even stopping pedestrians who look like models and demanding to see their papers. Why are so many models working illegally? A source at Model Alliance told Fashionista that an entertainment visa, which is required to work legally as a model in China, is much harder to obtain than a tourist visa, sometimes taking up to two months of the model's (and the agency's) time.

Advocates for models' rights already warn their colleagues to steer clear of China, where the working conditions for models are often poor and accompanied by low pay and sexual harassment, in large part because so many models are there illegally. But if working illegally in China is such a poorly kept secret, then why is the crackdown happening now? Natalia Zurowski, a models' rights advocate, wrote:

There is no word on how long the models will be held in custody, but Fashionista reports that the earliest release date will likely be May 23rd.