China allows visa-free entry to French, German, Italian travelers to boost tourism
China has announced a temporary visa exemption for citizens of France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Malaysia. Effective from December 1st to November 30th of the following year, citizens from these countries can enter China for business, tourism, visiting relatives and friends, or transiting for up to 15 days without the need for a visa, according to a statement from the foreign ministry.
China has been actively taking measures in recent months to revive its tourism industry, which suffered significantly during the strict COVID-19 measures of the past three years. The country has been gradually restoring international flight routes as part of its efforts to open up to the world.
This move also aligns with China’s broader strategy to reshape its global image after facing tensions with several Western nations on issues ranging from COVID-19 and human rights to Taiwan and trade. A recent Pew Research Center survey across 24 countries indicated widespread negative views of China, with 67% of adults expressing unfavorable opinions. Over half of the respondents believed that China interfered in the affairs of other countries without considering their interests.
The visa exemption has been welcomed by diplomats, with Germany’s ambassador to China, Patricia Flor, expressing optimism about the impact on German citizens’ travel to China. She emphasized the potential unprecedented facilitation of travel for many German citizens and expressed hope for the extension of such measures to all European Union member states.
While China has been progressively easing travel restrictions, including scrapping COVID test requirements for inbound travelers in August, the recent visa exemption signals a more extensive effort to attract international visitors. In August, China also resumed 15-day visa-free entry for citizens of Singapore and Brunei, and this month, the country expanded its visa-free transit policy to 54 countries, including Norway.
Despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, China’s aviation sector is showing signs of recovery. In October, the country’s aviation authority projected 16,680 weekly flights over the following five months, with passenger flights expected to reach 71% of the total from four years ago. This move aims to stimulate tourism, economic activity, and international engagement as China continues on the path to post-pandemic recovery.