China implemented a unilateral visa-free policy for ordinary passport holders from France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Malaysia on a trial basis starting from Dec. 1, to further boost people-to-people exchanges, high-quality development and high-level opening up.
According to the National Immigration Administration, the number of people entering China from the six countries has been continuously increasing. A total of 59,600 entries from the six countries were recorded in the first 10 days after the visa-free policy took effect, with the daily average increasing 42.07 percent compared with that of Nov. 30. Among them, 26,300 entries were visa-free, accounting for approximately 44.14 percent of the total.
The visa-free policy has brought tangible benefits to facilitate economic and trade cooperation, promote tourism and enhance people-to-people exchanges, said people from the six countries.
“This is really good news,” said Schmidt, a sports goods distributor from Bavaria, Germany, at the recently held ISPO Munich, the leading international sports trade fair.
Schmidt often travels to China to attend trade fairs. In the past, applying for a visa would take some time and effort.
“With China’s implementation of the new visa-free policy, it has become much more convenient for us to participate in exhibitions and visit clients in China,” Schmidt told People’s Daily.
What Schmidt feels is quite typical in the European business community. Mario Boselli, President of the Italy China Council Foundation, who recently attended the sixth China International Import Expo in Shanghai, noted that the new visa-free policy indicates that China’s door is opening wider. He stressed that both Italian and Chinese entrepreneurs should seize the opportunity, enhance communication and dialogue, and achieve win-win cooperation.
“This is obviously a beneficial measure that provides great convenience for individuals from relevant countries to engage in business, tourism, and family visits in China. It demonstrates China’s determination and confidence in upholding reform and opening up,” said Huang Yue, president of the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful National Reunification in the Netherlands.
According to Huang, China’s visa-free policy has attracted widespread attention in the Netherlands and quickly became a hot topic on social media platforms.
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malaysia. Following China’s announcement of an expansion of its visa-free transit policy, Malaysia also granted visa-free travel to Chinese citizens.
On Dec. 1, 1,113 visa-free entries to China were made by Malaysian nationals, the largest number among the six countries on that day.
Ronald Gan Yong Hoe, president of Persatuan Peranakan Baba Nyonya Malaysia, said that this policy greatly benefits Malaysian small- and medium-sized enterprises by reducing the economic and time costs of visa application. The policy will also promote business exchanges and trade cooperation, he added.
According to a report by the Swiss newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung, China’s unilateral visa-free policy for the six countries demonstrates China’s open attitude, which deserves appreciation. Italian newspaper La Repubblica said that European business operators widely welcome this new policy.
European countries are important sources of inbound tourists for China. According to statistics released by China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Germany, France, and Italy all ranked among the top 20 major sources of international tourists for China in 2019.
Liu Guosheng, general manager of a well-known travel agency in Germany that operates the tour business to China, told People’s Daily that China’s announcement of the visa-free policy has sparked strong attention in the German tourism industry.
It is widely believed that this policy is unprecedented and will effectively boost the enthusiasm of German citizens to travel to China, Liu said. Currently, there has been a significant increase in relevant inquiries and bookings, with multiple tour groups planning to visit China.
Qi Xiaoyu, deputy head of the Association Chinoise des Agences de Voyages en France, noted that since the announcement of the visa-free policy, travel agencies in France have seen a significant increase in inquiries. Many people immediately booked flights to China for spur-of-the-moment trips.
French netizens commented and shared this good news on social media platforms. Some said that they would visit the Great Wall soon.
Spanish writer and investment consultant Julio Ceballos, who has lived and worked in China for 17 years, said the new policy, which has been warmly welcomed by business people and those in the tourism industry, will promote tourism to China, facilitate people-to-people exchanges, enhance business cooperation, and expand cultural exchanges.
“The reciprocal visa exemption is a precious gift celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China, and it will bring substantial convenience to the people of both countries,” said Ronald Gan Yong Hoe.
He further stated that this policy would provide a more convenient and extensive pathway for cultural and people-to-people exchanges, help strengthen trust and understanding between the two peoples, and build a closer Malaysia-China relationship.
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