Travel to China Within 14 Days Prior to the Imposition of an Entry Ban
When did the Travel Restriction to China begin? Well, the U.S. State Department first released a Level 4: Don’t Travel to China advisory for travel to the Hubei Province where the ancient city of Wuhan lies. You may remember that Wuhan was the origination point of the deadly pandemic coronavirus.
Then the State Department released a Level 3: Travel advisory for several other Chinese areas. And now we have Level 4: Don’t Travel to China. At this point in time there are eleven levels of Travel Warning, and the numbers are only going to go up from here. Will this be enough to curb the number of travelers attempting to enter China? Not likely, but it does represent a step in the right direction by the international community to show China that it has problems too.
There are three major areas of concern with the new Travel Warning for China. The first is the issue of illegal Chinese entries. Illegal Chinese entries mean there are people who obtained a Chinese visa but then tried to reach North Korea or other destinations in China. These people would then be considered inadmissible entries for visa purposes. This is just one of the issues with the current Visa Waiver Program for China, but the fact remains that illegal entries do happen, so the travel advisory is aimed at this sector specifically.
The second area of concern is exit bans and quarantine. The State Department does impose exit and quarantine restrictions for several reasons, most notably the fear of contagious illnesses. However, the recent outbreak of SARS in China serves as a good example of why this measure is needed. It’s not that the authorities don’t want to prevent the spread of any diseases, but that they want to use the best preventative measures available, which are travel and entry restrictions and quarantine.
The third area is somewhat of a mixed bag. While China has some pretty heavy-handed control over its domestic population, especially in the wake of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government has allowed, and in some cases, encouraged, travel throughout the country. As such, there are a variety of routes you can take to enter China, including via Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and even through Russia.
To illustrate these three different categories, consider the following situations. You have a connecting flight in Hong Kong and decide to visit China. Two of the airlines you’re dealing with offer either direct flights or business class flights that are very inexpensive. One company also offers budget flights to Beijing that cost under $200. You arrive in Beijing, find an available seat, and decide you’d like to travel by train instead of using the taxi, since the taxis are overpriced and inefficient.
It is illegal for citizens of Hong Kong to be in China without a visa. On the other hand, citizens of China who plan on traveling to Hong Kong will need to have a visa in order to enter the mainland. If you arrived in Hong Kong by land and then went onto the train to Beijing, you would have to follow the same entry requirements as for Hong Kong, unless you were travelling from the Hong Kong airport.
All in all, it appears that the new Chinese administration is fairly reasonable when it comes to issues of tourism. They want to make sure that people who visit their country can enjoy their culture, and the modern amenities, but that they do not compromise on the safety of their people. As such, there is no effective January for tourists wishing to travel to China. However, for those people who plan to travel to China within 14 days prior to the imposition of an entry ban on any foreign nationals, you can now apply for a special one-time tourist visa.