Travel to China is often subject to much stricter entrance requirements than other countries. You must have a valid passport to travel to China. Chinese visa application centres are now fully open across the country. On 4 October the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs released revised Chinese immigration law. The new law states that all foreign nationals who apply for either a Chinese visa or one of the Chinese national passports must be present in China on the day of the application.
In light of these changes, it may be advisable to review your plans and travel to China now. There have been reports of significant improvements in visa processing for Chinese travelers originating from the UK. However, as always, travellers should confirm this with their respective embassies prior to departure. In addition, there are still some other areas of the world that experience heightened security and tighter visa requirements for tourists originating from the UK.
There has been a recent string of reports in China of companies offering air travel to China for cheap but ineffectual prices. Some of these companies are now facing bankruptcy after their flights were cancelled due to low demand. There have also been reports of companies suspending flights to and from the UK due to strikes by Chinese labor unions. These strikes are believed to affect mainly British citizens working in the state-owned airline industry in China.
The current travel ban comes as a response to efforts by the Chinese government to curb the growth of organized crime within its country. On February 12th, the State Council for Tourism issued a document that provides detailed measures on how to implement an effective hospitality inspection program in China. The document also indicates that the current tourism inspection rules will be revised immediately. The measures included a ban on all passengers boarding flights to China from abroad with debit and credit cards. This means that travellers will only be permitted to leave China with cash.
The document indicates that this measure is being imposed in line with previous tightening measures implemented by the State Council on Tourism. It is therefore expected that over the next few weeks, more air routes will be affected by this revised ban. There has been some speculation that the ban is related to Hong Kong and Taiwan, where both airlines have been conducting direct flights to China in recent months. However, a spokesperson for the State Council has dismissed this notion, stating that the latest move is not related to these flights.
Travel to China via Hong Kong was previously restricted only to people travelling to China on business. However, in January this rule was extended to passengers travelling between the mainland and the regions in Hong Kong. The new entry ban is the first official implementation of this rule, with officials yet to announce a timetable for its lifting. A spokesperson for the airline industry in China told the South Korean news agency Korea Times that no flights to China from Hong Kong had been cancelled as of yet. The spokesperson did however confirm that all flights to Beijing from Hong Kong were being suspended. Travel to China via Hong Kong has become difficult over the past year, with the Chinese authorities announcing several times that flights would be suspended and some places entirely banned from entering the Chinese territory.
The new regulations introduced on July 10th, limit the number of foreign nationals that can be entered into China every year. Previously, authorities only accepted limited entries from Chinese citizens and businessmen. The new rules are believed to be in reaction to the damaging effects that excessive immigration had on China’s development and open economy.
As of now, there is no known information on the number of foreign nationals who overstayed in China over the past twenty years. But the ban itself has already started to take effect. Chinese officials have begun to implement the new rules that come into effect on July 10th. The restrictions levied on foreigners coming to China are not likely to affect Hong Kong property buyers, who do not intend to stay in China, but are only passing through on their trip to China. It was not immediately clear if the new an entry ban on any foreign nationals will extend to Hong Kong property purchasers.