The Chinese government has introduced a new class of visa to help attract foreign workers to China and make it easier for their families to join them.
As of the 1st September the new R visa is option is now available to expats. This is aimed at high-skilled workers who have 5 or more years worth of experience, highly-skilled expats are in short supply in China so this should prove helpful for expatriates looking to move there.
The new R visa are valid for between 180 days and 5 years and should only take one-and-a-half months to process. Alongside the R visa S1 and S2 visa categories have been added to help family members of highly-skilled professionals visit China. The different classes depend on whether the family members are visiting a family member who has a R visa or Z visa with the S1 visa allowing stays of longer than 6 months whilst the S2 visa tends to be for shorter visits.
As with all recent visa rule changes there are still a few points that need to be clarified and further guidance may be required before processing starts rolling smoothly.
You can find out more on the China Consular Service website http://cs.mfa.gov.cn/wgrzh/lhqz/sblhqz/t1070373.htm, you need to scroll about half-way down the page to find the English text.
The TravelChinaGuide website also has details as to how to apply for the R http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/talent.htm and S http://www.travelchinaguide.com/embassy/visa/private-visit.htm visas.