China grants Visa-Free entry to Five European Nations and Malaysia
China revealed plans to implement visa-free entry for citizens from five European nations and Malaysia, aiming to boost tourism and business visits. Effective from December 1, individuals from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia can access China without a visa for up to 15 days as part of a year-long trial program. The initiative aims to streamline exchanges between Chinese and foreign personnel while enhancing openness to the global community, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning during a routine briefing.
China's stringent pandemic protocols, such as mandatory quarantines upon arrival, dissuaded visitors for nearly three years. Although restrictions eased earlier this year, international travel remains below pre-pandemic levels. Initially, China allowed visa-free entry for citizens from Brunei, Japan, and Singapore, but suspended this privilege during the COVID-19 outbreak. While visa-free entry resumed for Brunei and Singapore in July, it has not yet been reinstated for Japan.
Immigration statistics for the initial half of the year recorded 8.4 million foreign entries and exits in China, contrasting sharply with the 977 million recorded for the entire 2019, the year preceding the pandemic. To stimulate its sluggish economy, the government has sought foreign investment. Some business figures, like Tesla's Elon Musk and Apple's Tim Cook, have visited for trade fairs and meetings. However, compared to pre-pandemic times, the presence of foreign tourists remains notably scarce in the country.