Travel to China – New Restrictions On Foreign Travel
China has been an increasingly popular destination for tourism in recent years with more people choosing to travel from the UK for business and leisure purposes. This has resulted in a large increase in the number of entry and exitbanes that are being imposed. These include a five day exiting ban on all goods coming in or leaving China and a three-day entry ban for all goods leaving the country. The latest travel advisory from China does not offer any hints as to what the government plans to do to enforce the three-day ban, although there are hints that they may be taking measures to implement an effective January. If you plan to travel to China in the coming year it is essential that you check out the current situation well in advance of your trip and ensure that you are able to leave and enter the country without any problems.
There are currently three different entry permits that can be obtained when travelling to China. These are for tourists who are travelling to the Chinese mainland (the mainland of Beijing and Shanghai) or for foreigners who are travelling to China and are specifically visiting Hong Kong and Macau. The exit and entry permits are available for tourists of any nationality or economic class who have the correct documentation and comply with the entry and exit requirements set out by the Chinese authorities. The three categories of permits are the standard entry permit, the special entry permit and the extended range entry/exit permit.
The special category permit is granted for a period of up to one month. You will need to provide proof of citizenship and a valid passport in order to apply for this type of entry permit. Once you are approved, you will then only be permitted to visit China for fourteen days as you will then be on a restricted person’s list. The three-day restricted person’s list will prevent you from travelling to the mainland of Hong Kong or Macau. You will however be able to travel to other parts of the country. Traveling outside of the country will require a mainland or foreign passport.
On 1st January 2021, the Chinese government announced a series of new measures that would severely curtail the number of foreign nationals that can enter China. The new regulation introduced was formulated as part of efforts to combat fraud related to the purchase of property in China. The regulation states that any person who does not have the right of entry into China is banned from leaving the country for fourteen days. The ban is applicable to any property purchase abroad, including real estate purchases.
There was a flurry of reports from foreign travelers regarding this ban. Many reported that they had been detained and had their bags and belongings confiscated by Chinese local authorities while attempting to leave the country. There were also reports of harassment and violence experienced by foreign citizens. Travel advisories advising travelers to avoid traveling to the areas outlined above were issued in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A travel advisory was issued by the British High Commission in China advising travelers to contact the British High Commission directly.
On 6th January 2021, the Chinese government revised the Foreign Investor Facilitation Law to add a requirement that all foreigners wishing to purchase commercial or residential real estate in China have to register with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs no less than fourteen days prior to purchasing property or commercial rights in China. For foreigners purchasing shares in China’s stock market, this registration requirement is no less than three days prior. The revision to the Foreign Investor Facilitation Law is part of China’s efforts to crack down on overseas investment and assert its control over the domestic economy. The amendment states that any individual who fails to register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before purchasing commercial rights in China will be liable for a penalty of up to two thousand U.S. dollars or a prison sentence of not more than five years. The punishment is in addition to the penalties already included in China’s Control of Domestic Finances Law that punishes anyone who fails to file personal information or public records related to financial affairs for up to five years. Individuals who are caught exceeding these punishments will be punished even more severely.
The third area that the new laws affect is those of travel to and within the Chinese autonomous region. The new regulations prohibit all travelers, tourists, citizens of certain specific Chinese Nationalities, and other individuals from entering the autonomous region without the necessary authorization from the Chinese Ministry of Finance. These restrictions directly effect foreigners from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. Although there are no reported instances of foreign travelers being arbitrarily detained by Chinese authorities during these inspections, the likelihood of this happening is said to be minimal.
The fourth area affected by these amendments is that of travel to and within the special economic zones of China. These zones are located in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou and are only accessible by foreigners with Chinese government permission. According to the regulations of the PRC, foreigners cannot enter the special economic zones unless they are traveling to China on business. This restriction has been in place since July 2021 and was one of the reasons for the cancellation of a number of conferences and exhibitions organized by foreigners in the region. There were also reports that in some instances, foreign tourists who had entered the zone without the necessary permit have been detained and returned to their country without any valid explanation.