Travel to China – Political Issues
Foreign nationals travelling to China should register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) no later than thirty days prior to travel. Entry into the People’s Republic of China has been suspended since March 26th. You should avoid Non-General entry by non-Chinese nationals. General entry is available at thekokoros border crossing point between China and the Republic of Thailand. Identification requires a visa.
Travel to China via Thailand via another country may be difficult during the Chinese New Year. There will be additional security measures in place around airports and other points of entry to the country. Travel to China via Australia is not affected. However, travellers should check with their respective airports to confirm if they are allowed to enter or are subject to further screening. Travel to China via Mexico is still possible through January twenty-first.
Travel to China via South Korea remains unrestricted. There have been no reports of restriction of movement across the DMZ. Travel to China via Japan is not currently controlled due to the earthquake and nuclear incidents of the last twenty years. Travel to China via Hong Kong is also unenforced, but tourists are advised to be cautious due to the Chinese community’s dislike of foreigners.
Travel to China via the former communist block is not easy without a visa. This is because the PRC imposes extremely stringent controls on travel from outside the country. All Chinese citizens are required by law to obtain a visa before travelling abroad. These visa requirements have remained unchanged for twenty years, despite the fact that there have been twenty economic reforms in this period.
Unlawful police conduct, harassment and arbitrary arrests of citizens continue to cause tension with the Chinese Diaspora. Several hundred thousand Chinese citizens who either cannot leave China or do not know how to obtain exit visas have been arbitrarily detained by police in border areas in the past few months. Many of these people were arrested on suspicion of being abroad on work permits and some were detained simply for crossing the border into China. Official censorship and tightened border controls prevent many from travelling out of China.
Travel to China via Taiwan is possible but not advisable. Taiwanese authorities severely restrict travel to China and all activities related to Taiwan are strictly limited. Travelers arriving in China via Taiwan must obtain a visa in advance of travelling on to Taiwan. Traveling without a visa for several days prior to leaving China can result in detention by the Taiwanese authorities.
In spite of visa restrictions and the challenges associated with travel to China, the Chinese government continues to uphold its one-party state system and does not recognize the rights of travelers originating in other countries to freely travel and move around the country. The Chinese government considers all political issues in China to be internal affairs. There are no special pan laws for foreign travelers to China. Nevertheless, the Chinese government does take criticism of foreign citizens’ treatment while abroad, including the ill-treatment of Chinese citizens abroad, their property rights while abroad, and access to the freedoms of speech and press in China.
Some Chinese citizens abroad are not happy with the way China is conducting its foreign policy. Some criticize China’s human rights record in Tibet, where thousands of Tibetans face imprisonment and arbitrary punishment. There is also widespread disenchantment with China’s handling of the economy, especially the handling of its exchange trade with the western world. Travel to China can be difficult. One should be prepared to face the restrictions China places on travel and see that they are worth taking.