Travel to China – Frequently Asked Questions

The exit and entry ban for China was a major development in US-ASEAN relations. China is the largest country in the world, with one quarter of the world’s population. With US-ASEAN cooperation, China plays an increasingly important regional role, supporting UN peace keeping efforts and regional stabilization, and standing for principles on issues such as global warming and the protection of human rights. At the same time, China has been pursuing its own interests at the regional and global levels, and has often acted in ways that run counter to the US-ASEAN vision of regional economic integration. Accordingly, this ban by the Chinese government is likely to have a broad impact not only on the US-ASEAN relationship but also on China-ASEAN relations and cooperation.

Travel to China

The implementation of these restrictions is likely to affect both foreign nationals visiting China and US citizens who wish to travel to China. The new regulations require all foreigners who wish to enter China to have a Chinese visa no earlier than July 1st, 2021. This will effectively ban foreign nationals from travelling to and within China until July 2021, when all visas will be suspended completely. While the implementation of these provisions may reduce the number of foreign visitors to China during the 2021 summer months, the restrictions themselves are likely to have a long term effect on the Chinese economy.

In early July, the US Embassy in Beijing received a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the Travel to China ban. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all travelers to China from the US will be required to obtain a visa prior to travel. Foreign nationals who wish to travel to China are required to apply for a visa online via the State Department’s website, and then wait for approval.

The Chinese government reserves the right to request that individuals applying for a Chinese visa be required to make additional travel arrangements if they cannot meet the July 1st entry requirements. Individuals who are eligible for immediate entry into the country will not be required to obtain exit or arrival visas. For citizens of certain states that are not signatories to the US-Hong Kong Agreement, or the Customs Convention with China, there are no entry requirements. For citizens of Taiwan, Canada, or anybody else traveling to China who does not fall under one of these categories, the requirement to apply for a visa is likely to be waived.

For those Chinese nationals who have already obtained exit or entry visas-on-arrival, they can now proceed to register at the Chinese consulate. At the Chinese consulate, all applicable visa information should be collected and processed. Upon receipt of all visa documents, the consul shall forward them to the applicant. If the applicant is unable to attend the consulate, they can make arrangements for delivery of the documents by mail to their home address. If an applicant is unable to complete this step, the applicant should contact the nearest US consulate to arrange for a pickup.

While some observers believe that the Chinese government may impose an exit ban to retaliate for criticism of China’s trade policies toward its neighbors, no official information has been released about this matter. Some citizens travelling to China may face difficulties in obtaining non-immigrant visas. This is because some Chinese nationals who do obtain exit or entry visas may also face criminal penalties for engaging in activities that are deemed to be in violation of the gag laws imposed by the PRC. The gag laws were implemented after the signing of the United States-HTK Agreement.

Although the United States and China do not have an opt-out clause in the Friendship Act, US officials have suggested that they may decide to impose visa restrictions on individuals travelling to China if they do not receive the exit or entry license from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the course of their travels. Such a policy would be consistent with the practice implemented by the US government in dealing with persons travelling to or leaving from China. In addition, the authorities could also take steps to prevent any person entering or leaving China who has acquired any monetary assets from relatives who are banned from entering the country. Financial assets include foreign currency owned by the individual.

The authorities may also prevent travellers from boarding flights to and from China if the person is believed to be acting against the interests of the Chinese government. The authorities may detain travellers for up to 30 days without trial and for a further period of up to three years if the reasons for the detention do not arise. The penalties for offences under the Criminal Code are prescribed by the Code.