Effective February 1st, China’s new president took office. The transition has been smooth so far, but with trade relations potentially changing, travelers are being encouraged to visit before the big day. It is important to note that while China welcomes foreign investors, it does not intend to devalue the currency or put restrictions on U.S. companies that do business in China. In fact, the Chinese government and the central bank have been extremely flexible in allowing for foreign investment.
Beginning in November of 2021, China implemented some tough travel restrictions against citizens of certain countries that had acted in an irresponsible manner, violating Chinese law. For example, in China, people that purchased properties at below market value or bought or resold properties within a year of the purchase were banned from traveling to China. Although the reasons for this were unclear, the practice of circumventing the foreign ownership laws in order to secure a higher price or resale was mentioned by the current Chinese President Hu Jintao during his speech to the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2021.
Another interesting measure was implemented in January 2021 that bans all citizens of Hong Kong from coming to China. According to the Chinese foreign ministry, this measure was intended to prevent “unauthorized people” from accessing the Chinese territory. The only way to get into China through Hong Kong is by taking a special fast lane immigration clearance course provided by the Chinese government. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that it will monitor entries and exits of citizens of Hong Kong and China to determine whether they are valid Chinese citizens according to the law. However, foreigners can still enter China via the regular port of exit and enter via the fast lane as long as they are not considered “unofficial” by the Chinese authorities.
Citizens of India and many South Asian nations have also been affected by the new Chinese policy. According to a May 24th column in the Global Times, there is still no new visa policy for citizens of India traveling to China. The main reason for this is that the Indian government has yet to finalize the guidelines on granting visas to people from India. The two countries have been dealing with a disputed border since the early 1950s and till now there has been a freeze on trade between the two countries. The dispute over the border was one of the main reasons for the bloody Chinese revolution in October last year.
In mid-2021, travellers moving to China from the United Kingdom will need to acquire an EEC or E visa according to the latest Chinese regulations. This is a compulsory requirement for all foreign nationals moving to China for work or study purposes. The directive was communicated in a circular sent by the ministry of foreign affairs. The circular states that all EEC itineraries must include a visit to the Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
When travelling to China, all travellers, non-citizens and tourists are required to apply for a Chinese residence permit. To apply for the residence permit, travellers are required to visit the foreign ministry of China either through the consulate or via the China International Migration Office. Once the application form is submitted, applicants need to pay the necessary fees and also submit their passport photos. After submission of the application, the applicant is required to wait for at least three months while the processing of their documents take place.
After the processing of the documents, applicants can expect to receive their Chinese residence permit upon receipt of the approved application. The main purpose of the permit is to facilitate travel between China and foreign nationals or tourists who are visiting China. The document also enables authorised travellers to enter China. A typical document contains a photo of the applicant, his photograph and personal particulars. There are various types of documents available, depending on the purpose of the travel advice about China issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The two primary types of entry into China are by travelling by sea and by air. Travelling by sea requires the traveller to have a passport and an international crossing visa (ITES). China has open oceans so all international journeys require passengers to have one. Air-entry permits passengers to fly to China, regardless of whether they arrive by landing in China or by taking a flight to Beijing or other Chinese cities. The last method of entry into China is by taking a road or rail journey from Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. Chinese authorities strictly monitor the travel of all passengers arriving in and out of China.