China To Resume Issuing Tourist Passports, Visas

On Tuesday, China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) said it would resume issuing tourist passports for Chinese mainland residents and renewing and extending visas for foreigners starting on Jan. 8, following Monday's removal of COVID from its list of illnesses requiring quarantine.

China To Resume Issuing Tourist Passports, Visas
Image credit: EPA-EFE [via South China Morning Post]

Facts

  • On Tuesday, China's National Immigration Administration (NIA) said it would resume issuing tourist passports for Chinese mainland residents and renewing and extending visas for foreigners starting on Jan. 8, following Monday's removal of COVID from its list of illnesses requiring quarantine.
  • The NIA will also resume the processing of endorsements for Chinese mainland residents to visit Hong Kong for tourism and business purposes, the issuance of port visas, the implementation of the 24/72/144-hour visa-free transit policy, and the issuance of temporary entry permits per the law.
  • The latest policy changes mean the PRC is reopening to the rest of the world, almost three years after it stopped issuing visas to foreigners and passports to its own people at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
  • Beijing's announcement comes ahead of next month's Lunar New Year Holiday, implying that millions of Chinese could go abroad despite concerns that they could spread COVID internationally as cases surge in the country.
  • Leading global travel service provider Trip.com Group reported a massive spike in searches for international flights departing from mainland China and visa information following the news, with Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, and Thailand being the top five destinations.
  • Meanwhile, the US – which mandates international travelers show proof of vaccination status before entering the country – on Wednesday became the latest nation to require a negative COVID test from Chinese tourists. Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan and India have also introduced tighter restrictions recently.

Sources: Associated Press, Nia, China-Briefing, Sky News, Finance, and BBC News.

Narratives

  • Anti-China narrative, as provided by New York Times. China's zero-COVID policy did little to quell the virus but a great deal to disrupt the normal lives of its vulnerable residents and cause irreversible damage to its economy. The PRC's hermit strategy has now seemingly been thrown out as the country moves to the other extreme, which will allow the virus to run rampant, strain the health system, and leave its population on its own. The absence of a coherent fallback strategy threatens a fresh set of nightmares for the whole world.
  • Pro-China narrative, as provided by Global Times. Three years ago, China managed the pandemic under Category A disease protocols as it was still novel and had strong pathogenicity and fatality rate. With its zero-COVID measures, the PRC could halt the spread of infection that caused millions of deaths worldwide. The shift of policy doesn't mean reduced responsibility but rather a change of focus. It's time to move forward. Beijing's current strategic easing will safeguard both health and the economy.

Predictions