China to reopen borders to foreigners for First time since 2020

China to reopen borders to foreigners for first time since 2020

China is set to restart the issuance of all categories of visas to foreigners from Wednesday, ending a final cross-border control measure that was implemented three years ago to contain the spread of COVID-19. This move is expected to aid the country’s $17 trillion economy, which suffered from one of its slowest growth rates in nearly 50 years in 2020.


According to the foreign ministry, areas in China that were visa-free before the pandemic, such as Hainan Island and cruise ships passing through Shanghai port, will revert to visa-free entry. Furthermore, visa-free entry to the southern manufacturing hub of Guangdong will resume for foreigners from Hong Kong and Macau.


Foreigners holding visas that were issued before March 28, 2020, and still valid, will also be able to enter China. In January, China withdrew its advisory against foreign travel and added 40 more countries to its list of countries for which group tours are permitted, bringing the total number of countries to 60. However, the list still excludes Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the United States.


In 2022, only 4.5 million of the 115.7 million cross-border trips made in and out of China were by foreigners. Before the pandemic in 2019, China logged 670 million overall trips, with foreigners accounting for 97.7 million.


China abandoned its draconian zero-COVID policies in December and in January cancelled quarantine requirements for incoming travellers.


On Monday, Premier Li Qiang stated that China took less than two months to achieve a “smooth transition” in its response to COVID-19, and that the country’s strategies and measures had been completely correct.


The reopening of borders for foreigners in China is expected to boost the country’s economy and lead to a surge in tourism.

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