Effective January 1st, China suspends all flights to and from Hong Kong. This new policy is the result of the demonstrations that took place across the Chinese border. Protests were sparked in Hong Kong against a decision by the Chinese government to grant free rein to pro-Maoist groups which had staged an illegal parade through the streets of Hong Kong. The number of people killed or injured in the situation was huge, and the number of nations that cut off ties with China became steadily larger.
As the governments in both China and the western world released statements describing the situation, there was little the average foreigner could do to see local laws in action. Even those who had previously planned to visit China on business could not get a glimpse of how Chinese citizens lived. The most popular modes of travel for foreigners visiting China are now the train and plane. While these methods can bring a visitor into contact with the real China, they rarely allow them to see the Chinese government or local residents. If a foreign traveler wants to experience China up close and personal, it is important to follow some basic rules.
The first thing that any traveler considering traveling to China needs to know is the current immigration and visa restrictions. In particular, there are currently three areas of China where travelers originating in other countries may be affected. These include Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. The most common form of identification for Chinese nationals is the Chinese Cross, which is a separate document than the series of ID cards known as the PRC issued by the Chinese government. There are no airports in mainland China that serve flights from the western world into the Chinese territory, so if a traveler is unable to arrive by air, he or she will need to rely on another means to travel to China.
There are now only a handful of commercial airlines operating from the main Chinese cities, and all of these are either state-owned or highly restricted in their service to and from these cities. These flights have become extremely hard to find, and prices have risen dramatically in the last few years. On the plus side, however, many of the state-owned flights are now ultra-modern, well-stocked with amenities and fully staffed by competent staff. The frequent flyer miles that you accumulate on your business class flights to China can be utilized to purchase a business or first class tickets for your return flight home! For frequent flyers, this is excellent news-the more that you fly, the more free business class tickets you’ll receive!
Some of the other areas in which foreigners are banned entry into China are the Tibetan regions, including the troubled region of Tibet. These regions face severe restrictions that include a ban on all foreign travel to the country, a ban on the importation of Tibetan Buddhist religious items, and a ban on the provision of travel tickets to Tibetan monasteries. As well, all travel between China and Hong Kong must now pass through the Chinese diplomatic and economic facilities of the People’s Republic of China. This has been imposed as a measure in response to the Tibetans’ request for political rights and independence.
Whether you are traveling to China for business or pleasure, or even if you are just passing through the country, it is important to know and understand the customs and traditions of the country in which you are leaving. It is also important to know and understand the basic Chinese legal regulations that govern foreigners who wish to leave China and traveling back to China. Even though most Chinese people speak English, it is still beneficial to familiarize yourself with the basic Chinese legal system so that you will not be accused of attempting to bribe Chinese officials in order to secure a release of your visa upon exiting the country.
One of the more interesting areas of foreign travel to China that requires exit visas are the four Chinese member states imposing travel restrictions to foreigners. These four nations, following the United States’ lead, have made it a point to severely restrict the movement of people into and out of their territories. For example, China’s Neighboring States of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau all have been found to have extremely restrictive entry requirements.
On a positive note, these restrictions are usually only temporary. The governments in these nations, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, are only taking measures to implement a control over the influx of foreign nationals, in an attempt to prevent infiltration of hostile elements from outside the Chinese territory. On a negative note, the death rate of Chinese citizens attempting to flee to other countries has been found to be extremely high, due to poor standards of living and poor health care available. This in turn has resulted in an increased inflow of tourists to these foreign territories who do not follow Chinese etiquette. In short, before traveling to China, be sure to read up on your foreign country’s laws and get the proper travel advice for your own protection.