According to Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Administration of the Entry and Exit of Foreigners, foreigners staying in China can be classified according to three categories - those in the country for a short stay, those here for a long stay, and permanent residents.
A short stay concerns foreigners who come to China to travel, visit relatives or conduct business in the country. Foreigners staying in China for a short stay usually get a visa for less than one year.
A long stay mainly refers to foreigners who study, work or invest in China. These foreigners are granted a 1-5 year multiple entry visa and residence document.