Travel to China – Visa Ban or Deportation?

The implementation of a travel to China policy in northeast Asia has been effectively halted by the entrance ban imposed by the Chinese government. The northeast Asian countries have been negotiating with the Chinese government over trade and visa issues, which have resulted in the Chinese authorities imposing a comprehensive travel to China policy. This travel to China policy is very similar to the United States one, which is effective March 1996. The Chinese government announced that it would impose a total travel ban to the six nations involved – Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, India, and Vietnam. These six nations were not in compliance with the Sino-Chinese agreement regarding economic zones.

Travel to China

There were reports that as early as February the Chinese authorities may reintroduce a visa requirement for citizens travelling to China. The new visa requirement will only apply to citizens travelling to China and will not apply to citizens travelling to any of the other countries included in the revised Free Trade Area. Some US observers reported that this might be designed to target American tourists who had previously traveled to China, but were required to return to the United States. The Chinese government has not released a statement on the matter.

The United States Department of State notified all foreign nationals traveling to China that they will face visa restrictions if they do not comply with the July 1996 agreement. In addition, all travelers originating in the six countries are banned from travelling to Hong Kong. This ban goes into effect on October 1st and will remain in place until the government takes measures to alleviate the pressure on Hong Kong’s economy caused by the influx of tourists and workers. US officials confirmed to the media that all American citizens currently traveling to China will be required to apply for and receive a visa before leaving the country. The American Consulate General in Beijing was advised by the State Department to advise citizens traveling to China that their visa applications would no longer be accepted if they fail to apply during the current period. The State Department further advised Chinese citizens travelling abroad to be patient and follow the normal procedures for obtaining a visa.

The Chinese government has released multiple measures to enforce the July 1996 quarantine agreement. These measures come into force with the closure of all cities with a large number of foreign nationals or with the closure of the airports providing air travel to China. Simultaneously, there will be a five day period in which foreign nationals can travel out of Shanghai after the Shanghai customs office closes on October 7th. Foreign nationals can also travel to and within China, but must do so via a special bridge, which is only accessible via boat. There are also fly by day and fly by night restrictions in force.

The Chinese government has implemented an exit-strategy to deal with the threat of tourism due to the prevalence of AIDS and HIV. Prior to implementing its exit strategy, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs implemented a three-month suspension to all travel from the six countries mentioned in the quarantine memorandum. This suspension was intended to reduce the risk of illness in China by reducing the access that persons travelling from these six countries had to enter China. This suspension has now been extended to the end of the calendar year. At this time the focus of the Chinese government has been on implementing stronger healthcare standards and infection control, in response to increasing risks of illness among Chinese citizens travelling abroad.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that it will enforce a four month period from the date of last departure from China for travellers travelling from Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia. The four month period is now set to end on march 31st. This new policy on immigration related issues comes into force at a time when there has been an increase in the number of European travelers travelling to China. The increase in the number of European travellers to China has been caused by the exigencies of the mass influx of over one million illegal immigrants from central and eastern Europe into China. These illegal immigrants have brought with them disease and malnutrition. At the same time there has been a steady increase in the number of British tourists travelling to China.

It has also been reported that there are more American citizens travelling to China than there are Chinese citizens travelling abroad to the U.S. For both European and American citizens a trip to China is a chance to experience another language besides English. For Chinese speakers learning English is important as the need for Chinese speaking people to work and live in non-English speaking nations is growing. The lack of understanding of the Chinese culture among some non-Chinese speakers in the U.S. has led to a gap in job opportunities and wages for many native speakers of English in non-English speaking countries.

There is a possibility that the four-month visa ban which restricts the travel abroad of certain foreigners could be extended to all Chinese citizens. The State department did not announce any extension to the current ban. The current bans on travel to China were implemented after the outbreak of the September 11th Terrorist attacks in 2021. The new visa ban may be implemented at any time. However, if it is not extended to all Chinese citizens, the ban on traveling to China would probably affect American businessmen as well as American tourists.