China reopens to tourists and reinstates all visas


FILE – An airline employee asks travelers to disclose health information after check-in at the international flight counter at Beijing Capital International Airport on Aug. 24, 2022 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

HONG KONG (AP) — China will reopen its borders to tourists on Wednesday and reissue all categories of visas in an effort to boost its economy and tourism industry after a three-year shutdown amid the pandemic.

China is one of the last major countries to reopen to tourists. The announcement came on Tuesday after the government declared a “decisive victory” over COVID-19 in February.

All visa processing will resume from Wednesday. Destinations such as Hainan Island and Shanghai will also be allowed visa-free entry for cruise ships that did not require visas prior to COVID-19.

Foreigners with valid visas until March 28, 2020 are allowed to enter China. Foreigners from Hong Kong and Macau are allowed visa-free entry to the southern Chinese city of Guangdong. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday that China had “optimized remote testing measures for people arriving in China from relevant countries,” but the statement did not specify whether vaccination certificates or negative COVID-19 tests were required. preregistration with antigen tests instead of nucleic acid tests.

“All this has been done well and the overall epidemic risk is under control,” Wang said at a daily news conference.

According to a notice on the websites of various Chinese embassies and diplomatic missions, the decision will “further facilitate the transfer of Chinese and foreign persons.”

China has adopted a strict “zero COVID” policy that includes sudden lockdowns and daily COVID-19 testing to contain the virus. Most of these provisions were dropped in December amid growing opposition.

Visa regulations have been eased for groups of Chinese nationals after initial approval to leave. The results of these tests have been positive, and the pandemic situation has generally improved, Wang said.

“China will continue to make better arrangements for the safe, healthy and orderly movement of Chinese and foreigners based on scientific assessments and taking into account the situation,” he said. “We also believe that all parties will join China to create favorable conditions for cross-border exchanges.”

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