China relaxes visa requirements, offers visa-free entry for citizens of France, Germany, Italy from December
Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday announced that it will allow visa-free travel for citizens from six nations from this December. The move is set to bolster the tourism sector in China which has seen gradual decline since the onset of COVID-19.
China has begun experimenting with visa-free travel policy in order to revive its tourism sector which has suffered since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Asian powerhouse nation imposed strict visa restrictions on all countries in March 2020 and has since been on a similar path to curb international passengers inflow into its country.
However, China began opening up in March and has been since relaxing visa requirements for International travelers. Restoration of flights from different prior restricted routes was the first step it took in March this year signaling a change in its tourism policy. In early November, China began transit-free visa services to 54 nations.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry on Friday revealed that it will allow international travelers from six countries without any visa requirements for up to 15 days from 1st December 2023 to 30th November 2024. These nations include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia. The move is set to bolster the people-to-people ties with a view on business ties as well.
The move has also been welcomed by France and Germany who have released statements reacting to the development. Germany's ambassador to China, Patricia Flor said, “This decision will facilitate travel to China for many German citizens to an unprecedented extent. We hope that the Chinese government will implement the measures announced today for all EU member states.”
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said, “An excellent new announcement on the occasion of my visit from my counterpart Wang Yi!”. China's global image has taken a hit, especially in the Western nations due to COVID-19, Taiwan, trade issues, and its human rights record. Beijing now wants to soften its image among its adversaries to portray itself as a responsible global power.