Beijing – November 25, 2023
In a significant move to revive post-pandemic tourism, China has announced a temporary visa exemption for citizens of Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Malaysia, and Spain. Starting from December 1 and extending until November 30 next year, individuals from these countries can enter China to visit relatives and friends, tourism, transit for up to 15 days without the need for a visa, and business, as confirmed by a foreign ministry spokesperson on Friday.
China’s latest initiative is part of a broader strategy to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which has been grappling with the aftermath of three years of stringent COVID-19 measures that restricted international travel. Recent efforts, such as the restoration of international flight routes, underscore China’s commitment to reopening its borders and welcoming global travelers.
The introduction of the visa waiver comes as China aims to enhance its global reputation, addressing strained relationships with Western nations across various issues such as COVID-19, human rights, Taiwan, and trade. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center spanning 24 countries, there is widespread negativity towards China, with 67% of adults expressing unfavorable opinions. More than half of the survey respondents believed that China interfered in the affairs of other nations without taking their interests into account.
Patricia Flor, Germany’s ambassador to China, shared her optimism about the decision on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), stating, “This move will significantly simplify travel to China for many German citizens.” Flor also expressed her hope for the extension of these measures to encompass all member states of the European Union.
Volker Treier, who serves as the Director of Foreign Trade at the “German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK),” commended the temporary visa exemption, considering it a significant signal that has the potential to positively influence tourism and economic interactions. He emphasized its potential benefits for maintaining German machinery, ensuring quality ‘Made in Germany,’ fostering entrepreneurial exchange, and cultivating interpersonal contacts.
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, currently in Beijing, welcomed the announcement, stating on X, “An excellent new announcement on the occasion of my visit from my counterpart Wang Yi!”
This decision comes after China recently broadened its visa-free transit initiative to encompass 54 nations, including individuals from Norway. In August, China removed all COVID testing prerequisites for incoming travelers, and in July, it reinstated a “15-day visa-free entry” for citizens of Brunei and Singapore.
Despite the gradual recovery of international flights compared to the domestic sector, China’s aviation authority anticipates “a total of 16,680 weekly flights from November to March,” achieving 71% of the volume observed four years ago. The European Chamber of Commerce in China views this initiative as a positive step that will boost business confidence and facilitate people-to-people exchanges.