Traveling to China – Travel Ban From Micronesia
Effective January the Chinese government notified all travellers that unless they obtain express written permission from the Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) no non-Chinese travel will be lawful. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a travel advisory stating that Chinese nationals travelling to China will require written visa approval before travelling, or express permission from their chosen airline carrier. The MPS stated that all travellers intending to enter China must have their documents in place and ready for inspection at the customs checkpoint. Foreign nationals who arrive in China without proper documentation will face immigration problems upon arrival. This has sparked a large increase in tourism as tourists unable to acquire the required visa or travel documents are now unable to leave China to travel abroad.
The MFA further explained that Chinese authorities are strictly implementing measures to implement visa restrictions with immediate effect from January 1st, to prevent foreigners from travelling to and within the country. These measures are a direct result of the recent incidents of overseas tourists who obtained visas but were unable to stay in China legally. This is part of the ongoing clampdown on illegal migration to China by the Chinese Government. The MFA stated that it has consistently instructed travellers to obtain visa requirements prior to travelling, during the validity of their visa. It has also reminded tourists that they will need to depart from their originating point and proceed through China to reach the port of departure for the duration of their visa.
The MFA further advised all travellers that they should not enter or exit China via any indirect or unauthorised entry routes. The most common routes of entry for Chinese citizens are over Thailand, Vietnam and into the Gulf of Thailand. All other methods of entry have been halted by the Chinese Government with immediate effect from January 1st. Only a limited number of commercial flights to and from China have been permitted to continue throughout the month, with all other commercial flights being cancelled.
A similar restriction has been placed on citizens of south Korea. In July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it was implementing a similar entry ban to China. Similar measures have been implemented in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United States. These countries are deemed to be among the countries that have been designated as “partner nations” in China’s Silk Road Economic Belt project, with the US having imposed its own version of the ban earlier this year.
The announcement of the implementation of the an entry ban by the MFA comes just days after the MFA released its own travel advisory. In its advisory, the MFA described its actions as part of China’s commitment to the global community. The move came in response to continued violations of the maritime territorial waters and activities in disputed areas in the South China Sea. Specifically, the advisory refers to two incidents which took place last month. The first incident saw Chinese dredging for rare rock known as baquiao taking place in disputed areas in the Pacific Ocean.
The second incident saw Chinese fishing boats block a South Korean fishing boat and detain the crew, after which the fishing craft sped off into the Yellow Sea. The Chinese refused to disclose details of the incident, but the Seoul government expressed its disappointment at the “ineffective” response from China. On August 5, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) announced that it has banned all Chinese flights that originate from Seoul. A day later, the Ministry of Transport in China issued a similar announcement regarding all flights originating from Shanghai. This is currently in effect, although some flights to China have already been cancelled by airlines such as Hainan Airlines.
On August 8th, the RBA published revised Travel Warning for all citizens of China. The new Travel Warning issued by the RBA states that the People’s Republic of China within 14 days prior to the imposition of the ban, or before travel to any destination in China is advised against. This new Travel Warning is effective only for passengers travelling to China from either Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan. It did not mention Taipei or any other Taiwanese location.
On August 13th, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed cases of citizens traveling to China from Micronesia. However, there are no confirmed cases of citizens traveling from Micronesia to China. Taiwan remains one of the only viable locations from where Chinese citizens can travel to China without the need for a visa. The recent incidents of individuals traveling to China from Micronesia raise questions about the safety of travel to China from this region. Given the recent developments regarding travel to China from Micronesia, the tourism industry in Micronesia is in disarray and the possibility of a stampede during a travel from Micronesia to China looms large.