tourists at forbidden temple

China to Resume Issuing Visas and Allow Entry of Foreign Tourists

China is set to resume issuing visas to foreign tourists as it prepares to reopen its borders after years of stringent COVID-19 containment measures. According to a statement by the Chinese embassy in the United States, the new policy will take effect on March 15.

In addition, China will allow foreigners from Hong Kong and Macau to enter Guangdong as a group without a visa. It will also grant free visas to foreigners on cruise ships that stop in Shanghai.

This move marks an important symbolic shift away from China’s strict zero COVID policy, which included frequent lockdowns, wide-spectrum detection, and border closures that have negatively impacted the country’s economy.

China ended quarantine measures for incoming travelers on January 8, signaling the first major step in reopening the country’s borders after a nearly three-year closure to contain the COVID-19 virus.

Since then, the Chinese government has relaxed COVID-19 testing measures for travelers from a few countries such as New Zealand, Russia, and Malaysia, requiring only an antigen negative test result before boarding a plane to China, with airlines not required to check the test results before boarding.

The decision to reopen borders and allow foreign tourists marks a shift in the Chinese Communist Party’s priorities toward economic recovery. Chinese Premier Li Qiang urged all sectors to make more efforts to achieve the country’s economic growth target of 5% in 2023 during a session of the National Legislative Assembly this week.

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