China has announced that it will start issuing various visas to foreign travellers starting on March 15, 2023. The decision comes as the country gradually relaxes its strict Covid containment policies, departing from the zero-Covid strategy that had defined its pandemic response until recently.
The move is expected to significantly ease travel restrictions that have been in place since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Visas Issued Before March 28, 2020, Will be Valid
According to a notice issued by the Chinese embassy in Washington, visas issued prior to March 28, 2020, and still valid will be accepted for entry into China.
Furthermore, the revised policy will allow visa-free travel for cruise ship passengers arriving in Shanghai, as well as certain tourist groups from Hong Kong, Macau, and ASEAN member countries.
Also Read: China to Resume Group Tour to 40 More Countries Starting March 15
China Begins to Reopen to the Outside World
This is the latest step taken by Chinese authorities to reopen the country to the rest of the world. Before the coronavirus pandemic forced the country to close its borders to the rest of the world, China welcomed 65.7 million international visitors in 2019.
While many countries began to welcome international visitors and reopen their economies earlier, China began to emerge from its Covid containment policies in late 2022, following rare protests against President Xi Jinping’s signature zero-Covid strategy.
China ended mass testing, lifted lockdowns, and lifted long quarantines in December. However, the abrupt lifting of strict Covid restrictions resulted in an increase in Covid cases.
In late December, Beijing announced that inbound travellers to the country would not be required to quarantine. However, visa restrictions on foreigners remained in place.
Adjustments of Visa Policy to be Made in a Scientific and Dynamic Manner
According to Beijing, it will “continue to adjust its visa policy for foreign visitors visiting China in a scientific and dynamic manner in accordance with… the epidemic situation.”
China hopes that the new visa policy will stimulate its economy by attracting foreign tourists and investors. The move is also expected to strengthen China’s relations with other countries.
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