Paper ID cards will soon be a thing of the past in China, as the Chinese Ministry of Public Security announced this week a program to upgrade to smart cards. The new national smart ID card will be issued by the end of this year. Currently, ID cards in China, which are issued by each province and valid for 20 years, consists of a laminated paper card showing a person’s name, photo, birthday and ID number. The Chinese government says the new plastic smart cards will most likely contain a photo too. The State Council, which approved the plan, will begin pilot programs in large Chinese cities by year’s end. College students may also be one of the first groups to receive the new cards. The Chinese smart card project will take five years to make the changeover to smart cards. The switch to smart cards is fueled by the surge in counterfeit ID cards easily obtainable throughout China.