With a significant loosening of travel restrictions put in place since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak, China will reopen its borders to foreigners as of Wednesday, the nation’s foreign ministry announced.
Beijing abandons the rigorous zero-Covid stance that governed its pandemic response until a few months ago, marking the latest step toward closing China to the outside world.
A message published on a social media account connected to the foreign ministry’s consular affairs office on Tuesday stated that in addition to new visas being evaluated and accepted, those issued before March 28, 2020 that are still valid will once again permit admission to China.
Similar announcements could be found on the websites of a number of Chinese diplomatic missions abroad, including those in France and the United States.
The revised policy will also permit the resume of visa-free travel for individuals arriving in Shanghai on cruise ships as well as for specific tourist groups from Hong Kong, Macau, and nations in the ASEAN regional grouping, according to the notice.
The move would “further facilitate the exchange of Chinese and foreign personnel”, it added.
China received 65.7 million international visitors in 2019, according to data from the UN World Tourism Organisation, before sealing itself off from the rest of the world during the pandemic.
The majority of nations had already begun to fully reopen their borders and welcome tourists from abroad, but China didn’t do either until late 2022, when nationwide protests against President Xi Jinping’s signature policy finally gained traction.
Late November protests turned into demands for greater political freedoms, with some even calling for Xi to step down. This marked the broadest rejection of communist rule since the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989.
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