China announces to resume issuing various categories of visas for foreigners

After three years of travel ban, China today announced that it will resume issuing various categories of visas for foreigners starting on March 15, latest step in the country’s emergence from strict zero-Covid controls which have weighed on the country’s economic growth. Chinese state TV quoting the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry reported this today. China had already done away with quarantine rules for inbound travellers on January 8, a major step toward reopening its borders after nearly three years of restrictions. The world’s second-largest economy abruptly moved away from its zero-Covid policy in December amid unprecedented protests about the severity of the restrictions. China cancelled all the visas in March 2020 after COVID-19 pandemic ripped Chinese cities and spread across the globe.

AIR Correspondent reports that the announcement comes as the new Chinese leadership led by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang ushered into a fresh five-year term after concluding the annual parliamentary session on Monday. It says, foreigners with valid visas issued before March 28, 2020 will be allowed to enter China. The country will also resume visa-free entry for several places, including Hainan Island, Guangdong, Guilin and for cruise ships that stop in Shanghai. Many Chinese embassies have started issuing notifications to this effect. This is expected to boost the arrival of international tourists and increase the demand in the economy which has declined substantially during last three years of Zero COVID policy. China has also withdrawn the mandate to wear masks at the schools and universities.

At his first annual press conference after the closing of the national legislature on Monday, China’s new Premier Li Qiang said achieving China’s target of around 5 per cent GDP growth this year will not be an easy task. Stressing on the importance of economic stability this year, Li said, a slew of policy “combinations” will be introduced for the macro economy, to stimulate demand and investment.

Chinese airlines have ramped up to meet demand since the reopening, adding international routes after the government allowed the resumption of overseas group trips. Authorities also loosened Covid test requirements for travellers from a handful of countries including New Zealand, Russia and Malaysia from March. China still requires a negative COVID-19 test result done within 48 hours of travel from the travellers from India.

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