Chinese New Year is approaching fast, and it’s time for Chinese travel throughout the country. The popular phrase “Chinese New Year is in April” is therefore most accurate as the Chinese New Year falls in late February/early March. There are many travel packages available to tourists who wish to enjoy the festivities this Chinese New Year. For a comprehensive listing of the best times of year to visit China, check out our fares from Hong Kong and Macau to Beijing, Shanghai, and other major Chinese cities. Some of these fares are only valid for entry into China, others let you travel around China itself.
Chinese authorities are very strict about Chinese New Year parades and other related events. They impose a series of officially approved activities on China’s public transportation system to help Chinese citizens commemorate the coming of the New Year. These activities, organized by the Ministry of Transport, are widespread across China, but especially in Beijing, Shanghai, and other major Chinese cities. While many of these parades are peaceful and recreational, others are marked with massive street demonstrations by Chinese supporters of the national government. The authorities severely curtail any and all activities that may promote dissent or promote unapproved cultural references.
In January, authorities in China will likely begin welcoming foreign nationals from across the world. This is particularly true of those who have valid work permits from their home countries. The Chinese government does not impose any restriction on the amount of foreign travel that takes place between January and March, but it is highly recommended that all travellers to apply for a visa prior to travelling. Some countries offer discounted or free Chinese visas for visitors who can present proof of having obtained a work permit from their home country. Visitors may also apply to the Chinese embassy for a non-immigrant visa (mainly for tourist visits).
Foreign nationals who are travelling to China for the first time may be surprised to learn that the number of customs checks and inspection upon entry is quite high. The reason for this is that many countries in South Korea have been recently added to the list of countries with restricted entry into China. At present, there is an exit visa requirement for tourists who travel to China. The authorities in south Korea have implemented a similar exit visa policy for travellers wishing to travel to China.
The authorities in China have become increasingly strict in implementing visa policies. Between 2021, the number of foreign tourists who were rejected for a Chinese visa has increased by over fifty percent. Authorities now routinely check foreign passports and deny entry to people who do not appear to be Chinese nationals or are not Chinese citizens by birth. There is also a separate entry restrictions law for citizens of the PRC who are travelling outside of the special administrative region of Beijing (the mainland) to visit relatives. The reason for this is that most foreigners are not aware of the existence of this separate law.
In July 2021, the South Korean government notified its nationals that they would be denied entry into China if they did not have a Chinese visa. The announcement came as a surprise to the foreigners as it was not known that such a policy existed before the notification. In fact, no one was informed and most foreign nationals travelling to China assumed that their visas would not be refused. On July 10, the government clarified that it was implementing a policy of non-visit from China for certain categories of foreign visitors, which included those who are not Chinese citizens by birth. Although some media sources have reported that the introduction of a ban on all visa applications by Chinese nationals was part of China’s efforts to bolster its relationship with the USA, no foreigners have been denied entry since then.
There are many reasons as to why the Chinese authorities have introduced a ban on people travelling to China. Many speculate that it is a response to the recent developments in the Chinese economy. On July 3rd, the People’s Republic of China notified the UN that it was putting sanctions on the disputed islands in the South Pacific in what it claimed were its own waters. On July 7th, the RCPP [the PRC’s official name] also announced that it was expelling all citizens of Taiwan it deemed as Taiwanese nationals from the occupied areas and would re-designate the island as the Chinoan Island. These actions come at a time when relations between the two nations have soured to a severe degree, with the USA having labelled the Chinese government as a “shirtfrontier” and the US Coast Guard cutting down Chinese fishing nets near the islands. For their part, the Chinese government has neither confirmed nor denied carrying out the expulsions.
Another possible explanation as to why the Chinese government announced a ban on visas for foreigners may be related to the growing number of foreigners travelling to China. In the period leading up to the implementation of this measure, the number of foreign tourists to China has increased by over twenty percent. The sudden rise in visitors has caused a backlog in processing tourist visas, and has led to a drastic increase in the processing of non-immigrant visas. This may be related to the fact that China has seen a slump in the value of its currency, which has had a detrimental effect on the value of Chinese imports and exports. However, this ban is effective only for Chinese citizens travelling to China; for non-Chinese visitors, travelling to China will not be affected.