China will open its borders to tourists for the first time in 3 years

China will reopen its borders to tourists and resume issuing all visas on Wednesday as it tries to revive tourism and its economy after a three-year shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

All types of visas will resume from Wednesday. Visa-free entry will also resume for destinations such as Hainan Island, as well as for cruise ships entering Shanghai that did not have a visa requirement before COVID-19.

Foreigners with valid visas issued before March 28, 2020 will be allowed to enter China. Visa-free entry will resume for foreigners entering Guangdong in southern China from Hong Kong and Macau.

Vaccine, COVID rules are unclear

The notice did not specify whether vaccination certificates or negative COVID-19 tests would be required, but Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters on Tuesday that China had “optimized measures for remote testing of people arriving in China from relevant countries,” allowing it in advance. – boarding antigen testing instead of nucleic acid testing.

“All of these have been well implemented and the epidemic risk is generally under control,” Wang said at a daily briefing.

An ambulance with its lights on faces away from the camera on a damp, asphalt street.  Street lights, the Great Red Barrier and Chinese architecture can be seen in the distance.
An ambulance drives along an empty street near a closed tourist spot in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province on January 6, 2022. (Chinatopix/The Associated Press)

The move will “further facilitate the exchange of Chinese and foreign personnel,” according to a notice posted on the websites of multiple Chinese missions and embassies.

China had stuck to a tough “zero-COVID” strategy, which includes sudden lockdowns and daily COVID-19 testing to try to contain the virus, before abandoning many aspects of the policy amid growing opposition in December.

The easing of visa rules follows China’s approval of outbound group tours for Chinese nationals, with positive results, and a general improvement in the epidemic situation, Wang said.

“China will continue to take better measures for the safe, healthy and orderly movement of Chinese and foreign personnel based on scientific assessments and in light of the situation,” he said. “We also hope that all parties will join China in creating favorable conditions for cross-border exchanges.”

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